Meteorology: An Introduction to the Wonders of the Weather

Gain new insight into the remarkable meteorological phenomena that surround us with this eye-opening course that probes these mysterious forces of nature.
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Embark on a fascinating foray into the complex and enthralling field of meteorology: the study of the weather. In the 24 engaging lectures of Meteorology: An Introduction to the Wonders of the Weather, learn about the often surprising, always intriguing interactions that make up our world's climate. Bringing together geography, chemistry, physics, and other scientific disciplines, Professor Robert G. Fovell offers you fresh and illuminating insights into weather of your everyday life.


Robert G. Fovell
Robert G. Fovell

The English poet John Keats complained that by explaining how it worked, Sir Isaac Newton had 'unweaved the rainbow.' I could not disagree more. Our appreciation for Nature is enhanced by understanding her design.


University of California, Los Angeles

Dr. Robert G. Fovell is Professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he serves as cofounder and cochair of the Interdepartmental Program in Mathematics/Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. He earned his Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A committed classroom teacher, Professor Fovell teaches courses on topics including atmospheric dynamics, thermodynamics, weather prediction and forecasting, and cloud dynamics. In 2005, he was awarded a UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award (the Harvey L. Eby Award for the Art of Teaching). He has also taken his insights to a broader audience while serving as a commentator for programs on the National Geographic Channel and the Discovery Channel. Outside the classroom, Professor Fovell is an active researcher. He is affiliated with UCLA's Institute of the Environment and the Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering and is a member of the American Meteorological Society, the Royal Meteorological Society, and the American Geophysical Union. He has published extensively, particularly on the subjects of squall lines and storm dynamics, and has served as an associate editor of the Monthly Weather Review.

By This Professor

Meteorology: An Introduction to the Wonders of the Weather
Meteorology: An Introduction to the Wonders of the Weather


Nature Abhors Extremes

01: Nature Abhors Extremes

From thunderstorms to typhoons to driving winds, the world's weather is often tumultuous, destructive, and surprising. And yet, all these phenomena represent Nature's attempt to mitigate extreme conditions. In this introduction, begin to explore some of these extremes as you examine the great complexity of the world weather system.

32 min
Temperature, Pressure, and Density

02: Temperature, Pressure, and Density

Why do cold and warm fronts exist? Can you dig a well so deep you cannot pump water from it? Find the answer to these and other questions as you explore three key concepts of weather-temperature, pressure, and density-and the equation that sums up their relationship: the ideal gas law.

28 min
Atmosphere-Composition and Origin

03: Atmosphere-Composition and Origin

What is air made of? Is it always true that hot air rises and cold air sinks? Learn more about the air that surrounds us and cushions us from the outer reaches of space, and examine the various layers that make up the earth's atmosphere.

29 min
Radiation and the Greenhouse Effect

04: Radiation and the Greenhouse Effect

Energy radiates all around us, streaming in from sunbeams and emanating from every object on Earth. Investigate the various kinds of radiation represented on the electromagnetic spectrum, and see how these forms of energy-assisted by the greenhouse effect-make life possible on our planet.

30 min
Sphericity, Conduction, and Convection

05: Sphericity, Conduction, and Convection

If all the Earth receives energy from the sun, why are there such wide temperature differences across the planet? Why do we have seasons? Answer these questions while learning about how heat moves through the atmosphere via two basic processes: conduction and convection.

31 min
Sea Breezes and Santa Anas

06: Sea Breezes and Santa Anas

Gain an understanding of how wind works as you explore the way temperature and pressure drive sea breezes during the day and land breezes at night. Then apply these findings to a dramatic wind condition, the famous Santa Ana winds of California.

28 min
An Introduction to Atmospheric Moisture

07: An Introduction to Atmospheric Moisture

Add a new element to your understanding of the atmosphere-water-and learn some basic facts about air's capacity to hold water vapor, including the impact of temperature on atmospheric moisture and the implications for weather.

31 min
Bringing Air to Saturation

08: Bringing Air to Saturation

Why does dew form on some mornings? Why does it take longer to cook food at higher elevations? Discover the answer to these questions as you learn about saturation: the point where air holds the highest amount of water vapor that it can contain.

32 min
Clouds, Stability, and Buoyancy, Part 1

09: Clouds, Stability, and Buoyancy, Part 1

One of the most familiar and beautiful features of weather is the cloud. In this lecture, examine different kinds of clouds, learn how clouds are born, why and how they take their distinctive shapes, and what kinds of conditions are likely to produce clouds.

32 min
Clouds, Stability, and Buoyancy, Part 2

10: Clouds, Stability, and Buoyancy, Part 2

Continue your discussion of clouds as you take a closer look at the climates and precipitation relating to this weather phenomenon. Discover why some clouds produce rain while others do not and see why deserts are often found on the lee side of mountains.

33 min
Whence and Whither the Wind, Part 1

11: Whence and Whither the Wind, Part 1

Move from clouds to wind as you begin to explore how and why air is transported around the globe. Examine how conditions, including differences in air pressure and temperature as well as the rotation of the Earth, determine where winds arise and the direction in which they blow.

31 min
Whence and Whither the Wind, Part 2

12: Whence and Whither the Wind, Part 2

In addition to pressure differences and the Earth's rotational movement, two other forces help to determine the winds' strength and direction: friction and centripetal force. Learn about these two forces and examine how they shape the winds the world over.

29 min
The Global Atmospheric Circulation

13: The Global Atmospheric Circulation

After mastering the four forces that affect wind, step back to view their patterns of flow across the Earth's hemispheres. Examine the two models of air circulation that help account for large-scale air-circulation patterns and variations in temperature from the poles to the equator.

31 min
Fronts and Extratropical Cyclones

14: Fronts and Extratropical Cyclones

In this lecture, you encounter some of the most dramatic air-flow patterns found in nature, the swift, turning winds of the cyclone. Trace the lifecycle of the extratropical cyclone, which draws its power from the huge energy generated when different air masses meet.

30 min
Middle Troposphere-Troughs and Ridges

15: Middle Troposphere-Troughs and Ridges

Shift your eyes to the sky and examine what happens in a higher level of the atmosphere called the middle troposphere. With this examination, you discover two new features in large weather systems-troughs and ridges that occur in areas of very low and very high pressure-and see how these features affect the weather.

31 min
Wind Shear-Horizontal and Vertical

16: Wind Shear-Horizontal and Vertical

Expand your understanding of how air moves by taking a three-dimensional view of atmospheric circulation. Discover what happens when winds change direction and what conditions cause these changes in wind shear.

28 min
Mountain Influences on the Atmosphere

17: Mountain Influences on the Atmosphere

In this lecture, investigate how mountains can disturb the atmosphere into which they intrude from below. Also, learn how these disturbances can be felt far and wide.

31 min
Thunderstorms, Squall Lines, and Radar

18: Thunderstorms, Squall Lines, and Radar

That familiar crash of thunder and the torrential rains that often accompany it are common weather during the warm season. Learn how these noisy storms can form near cold fronts associated with extratropical cyclones and see how scientists use radar to study these storms.

31 min
Supercells, Tornadoes, and Dry Lines

19: Supercells, Tornadoes, and Dry Lines

Delve deeper into tumultuous weather as you learn about the formation of towering supercell storms. You also take a detailed look at how the conditions that produce these storms can lead to deadly tornadoes.

29 min
Ocean Influences on Weather and Climate

20: Ocean Influences on Weather and Climate

With their massive volume and constantly moving currents, oceans provide a vast reservoir of energy. Explore how the winds help generate movement in the ocean and, in turn, how the oceans affect weather all over the world, creating a huge feedback loop that helps create our climate.

33 min
Tropical Cyclones

21: Tropical Cyclones

Building on your understanding of how the ocean affects weather, turn your attention to the tropical cyclone, generally known as the hurricane or typhoon. Examine the typical structures of the tropical cyclone, and investigate the conditions needed to unleash these dangerous storms.

33 min
Light and Lightning

22: Light and Lightning

Here, you bring together all you've learned in earlier lectures about the composition of air, the electromagnetic spectrum, the condensation of liquid, and the role of oceans in our climate, and use that information to explore two dazzling phenomena: light and lightning.

32 min
Prediction and Predictability

23: Prediction and Predictability

Scientists have learned a lot about how weather works and have developed sophisticated tools to predict what may happen in our weather. You learn about the sophisticated numerical models these experts use, as well as the inevitable limitations of those models.

31 min
The Imperfect Forecast

24: The Imperfect Forecast

Despite all their knowledge and tools, scientists cannot make perfect predictions. Find out why, using the example of Hurricane Rita in 2005, and explore the deep complexity of weather and climate that makes the subject of meteorology one that continues to fascinate.

33 min