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Courses : Syllabi : 509

Geography 509 Regional Climatology


Dr. John O’Leary

Course Description

To gain a regional understanding of the earth's climates. In order to do so, we will develop basic principles governing atmospheric processes that will make the global distribution of climate meaningful. Different climatic classification systems, both empirical and genetic, will be examined with special emphasis being placed upon Trewartha's classification.

Expected Student Learning Outcomes:

Students taking this course should be able to:

  1. appreciate the importance of spatial and temporal heat budget variation
  2. explain the processes that produce winds and the global atmospheric circulation
  3. understand and appreciate spatial and temporal patterns in atmospheric moisture, air masses, and fronts
  4. comprehend and predict the spatial and temporal occurrence of Earth's weather systems
  5. recognize and contrast the global distribution of climates, and understand the atmospheric processes that govern climatic characteristics


The Climate of the Earth, P.E. Lydolph, 1985 (required)


Two midterm exams (each 100 points) and a final exam (140 points) will be given. These exams will be a mixture of multiple choice, short answer, and essay questions. The final exam will be partially cumulative, although most of it will cover material presented after the 2nd midterm exam. Grade cutoffs on individual exams and for the course will be determined by a grading curve.

Use of Electronic Devices

Laptop computers may be used for note taking, but all other electronic devices must be turned off during class time.

Weekly Topics

Week Topic
Week One Introduction, Chemical and Physical Structure of theAtmosphere
Week Two Global Heat Exchange; Spatial and Temporal Heat Budget Variation
Week Three Atmospheric Pressure and Motion; Observed Atmospheric and Oceanic Circulation Patterns
Week Four Atmospheric Moisture; Adiabatic Processes and Atmospheric Stability; Air Masses and Fronts
Week Five Flow Perturbations in Middle and Lower Latitudes
Week Six Midterm One
Wind; Forms and Distributions of Condensation and Precipitation
Week Seven Temperature: Controls, Expressions, and Distributions
Week Eight Climatic Classification and Distribution: Considerations and Various Class Classifications
Week Nine Climatic Classification and Distribution: Trewartha's Classifications
Week Ten Climate of North America
Week Eleven Midterm Two
Climate of North America
Week Thirteen Climate of Eurasia
Week Fourteen Climate of Eurasia (cont.); Climate of Africa
Week Fifteen Climate of Africa (cont.); South and Central America
Week Sixteen South and Central America (cont.); Australia
Week Seventeen Australia (cont.); New Zealand

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