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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.
- 1 Event Rotation
- 2 Basic Types of Clouds
- 3 Basic Meteorological Information
- 4 Event Information
- 5 Links
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.
Basic Types of 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 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 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 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.
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:
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.
The event allows four double-sided sheets of paper with notes (written/typed etc.) and two non-programmable, non-graphing calculators.
Personal resources for studying prior to the competition are not restricted. Participants should have some sort of Meteorology textbook that has information about all three topics, so it can be used 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.
Making Your Note Sheet
For information about making a note sheet, please see here.
Participants can make their note sheet using OneNote (which can fit a lot of information on one page) or similar programs. They should have some diagrams on the Coriolis Effect, the layers of the atmosphere, the types of clouds, classification systems, and other things they find useful.
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, this can be used to the competitors' advantage. As long as students are able to answer all of the questions in an educated fashion, their prospects are pretty bright.