Meteorology

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Meteorology
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Meteorology is a weather and climate based event designed to test students' basic understanding of the meteorological principles and ability to interpret and analyze meteorological data. It has a main focus topic each year, which rotates between Climate, Everyday Weather, and Severe Storms. A basic knowledge of fronts and air systems, among other common Meteorology topics, is suggested for every year, although the topic rotates every year between three topics. It is currently only an event in Division B, and no equivalent exists for Division C.

The event is designed for up to 2 people. In 2018, each team is allowed to bring four front-back note sheets to the competition.

Event Rotation

The focus of Meteorology rotates between three topics (everyday weather, severe storms, and climate), each of which spends one year as the focus before being replaced by the next topic in the rotation.

Season Topic Supplementary Pages
2018 Climate Climate Notes, EpicFailOlympian's Climate Notes
2017 Severe Storms Thunderstorms, Hurricanes, Winter Storms, Mid-Latitude Cyclones, Atmospheric Rivers
2016 Everyday Weather Everyday Weather Notes, EpicFailOlympian's Everyday Weather Notes
2015 Climate
2014 Severe Storms
2013 Everyday Weather
2012 Climate

Basic Types of Clouds

Low-level Clouds

Low-level clouds are found at altitudes lower than 6,500 feet. There is no prefix for a low-level cloud. They are usually composed of water droplets (sometimes supercooled), but can be composed of ice crystals during the winter.

  • (Fair Weather) Cumulus: puffy, light clouds with plenty of space between each other; usually signifies good weather, usually brings little to no precipitation, but can turn into storm clouds like cumulonimbus clouds; name means "heaped" in Latin; low altitude cloud
  • Stratus: horizontally-layered grey kinds of clouds; may bring small amounts of precipitation; name means "layered" in Latin; low altitude cloud
  • Stratocumulus: dark, rounded masses of clouds that are usually in groups/layers, occasionally there will be a break in clouds; generally little to no precipitation; low altitude cloud

Middle-level Clouds

Middle-level clouds are found at altitudes between 6,500 and 20,000 feet. They are given the prefix alto-, which means "high". They are composed of water droplets (sometimes supercooled) and/or ice crystals.

  • Altostratus: layer clouds thinner than stratus, but thicker than cirrostratus, sun and moon are somewhat visible; light precipitation, but little of it reaches ground; middle altitude cloud
  • Altocumulus: globular clouds in layers/patches, may signify a thunderstorm to happen later in the day; middle altitude cloud

High-level Clouds

High-level clouds are found at altitudes above 20,000 feet. They are given the prefix cirro-, which means "curl". They are composed mostly of ice crystals.

  • Cirrus: thin, feathery wisps of clouds; also known as "mares' tails," and while the precipitation it releases evaporates before it reaches the ground, it may signify the arrival of precipitation; high altitude cloud
  • Cirrostratus: thin, sheet-like, high-level clouds, quite transparent (sun/moon easily seen), halos very common around sun and moon; high altitude cloud
  • Cirrocumulus: light, puffy, short-lived clouds; high altitude cloud

Multi-level Clouds

Multi-level clouds exhibit large vertical extent, covering multiple altitudes (high, medium, low) at a time.

  • Cumulonimbus: huge, anvil-shaped vertical cloud, can produce thunderstorms, tornadoes, and other dangerous storms, may form along squall lines, often brings a lot of heavy precipitation; bottom of cloud is at low altitudes and extends upwards to high altitudes
  • Nimbostratus: dark layer clouds; produce light to moderate precipitation over a wide area; low to middle altitude cloud

Basic Meteorological Information

Although the topic for Meteorology changes from year to year, one should know certain information that serves as a basis for understanding the specifics of each topic.

The Atmosphere

For more information about the Atmosphere, such as its origins and its relation to local wind patterns, please see Meteorology/Everyday Weather#The Atmosphere and Meteorology/Climate#Earth's Atmosphere.

The Layers of the Atmosphere

The layers of the atmosphere from bottom to top are as follows:

Troposphere
Stratosphere
Mesosphere
Thermosphere
Exosphere

The troposphere is where most weather patterns occur.

Instruments and Diagrams

For more information about meteorological instruments and diagrams, see Meteorology/Everyday Weather#Weather Technology.

Event Information

Resources

The event does not allow any resources during competition, except for a single sheet of paper with notes (written/typed/double-sided etc.) and a non graphing calculator.

Personal resources for studying prior to the competition are not restricted. You should have some sort of Meteorology textbook that has information about all three topics, so you can use it even after the topic changes. Other, more specific and advanced textbooks can also be useful to experienced participants. A useful tactic for studying is looking up topics on Google to get familiar with some subjects before going more specific. Wikipedia is also useful for this purpose.

You should make your note sheet using One Note, since in One Note you can fit a lot on one page. You should have some diagrams on the Coriolis Effect, the layers of the atmosphere, the types of clouds, classification systems, and other things you find useful.

Making Your Note Sheet

For information about making a note sheet, please see here.

Test Format

A Meteorology test usually is in the form of a written test or a PowerPoint with slides on it. Occasionally, a test may come in the form of stations that each team rotates between. In the written test, it is generally a good idea to split it if possible, so each person has less work to do, and time can be spent reviewing later on. Also, if time is a tiebreaker, that can be used to your advantage. Unfortunately, in the other formats, this cannot be done, but all other teams have the same disadvantage. As long as you are able to answer all of the questions in an educated fashion, your prospects are pretty bright.

Links

University of Illinois Meteorology Guide
NOAA Weather Education
JetStream Online School for Meteorology