EAS-A 474 Topics in Atmospheric Science

Spring 2021: Mesoscale Meteorology

General Details

Instructor: Dr. Cody Kirkpatrick (my email address)

Dates and times to be determined. I won't find out until the schedule is published, unfortunately. I don't know yet if we will meet 2 x 75 minutes or 3 x 50 minutes.

A graduate section (574) is scheduled to be arranged.

Our Class and COVID-19

I hope we can have at least one in-person meeting each week, and at least one Zoom meeting each week. Either way, the course will be "synchronous" meaning live -- we won't have pre-recorded sessions for you to watch.


  • Ideally you've taken at least one atmospheric science course, so that you are already familiar with some of the vocabulary we will use in this senior-level science course.
  • At least Calculus I or Brief Survey. We'll use derivatives and a few integrals, so this is important.

What is the mesoscale?

Much of the "sensible weather" we experience is produced by mesoscale phenomena. Broadly speaking, the mesoscale includes atmospheric flows that are larger than those dominated by turbulence (we don't study dust devils) and smaller than those that are essentially in geostrophic balance (we don't study midlatitude cyclones). To be precise, Orlanski (1975) defined the mesoscale as motions on spatial scales from 2 to 2000 km. Very few simplifications to the equations of motion are permitted at the mesoscale; hence it is often one of the most challenging -- and most rewarding -- study study areas for scientists and students.


  • Energy conservation of air parcels; review of importance of water vapor
  • Buoyancy and vertical motion of air parcels; instability in the atmosphere
  • Thunderstorm morphology and evolution: single cell, multicell, supercell
  • Formation of cold pools and gust fronts; Bernoulli's equation
  • Drylines; the Great Plains Low Level Jet
  • As time permits: tornadogenesis, hurricane formation and movement, forecasting
  • Radar meteorology, including polarimetric variables


There is nothing to buy. The book, "Mesoscale Meteorology" by Markowski and Richardson, is available for download through the IU library at no cost.

To learn more:

Just email me, I'm happy to talk more about the course.


Page updated on October 5th, 2020