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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.
Meteorology: An Introduction to the Wonders of the Weather is rated 4.1 out of 5 by 215.
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Rated 1 out of 5 by from Meteorology Did not enjoy this course because it was way too technical. You need a degree in meteorology to understand it.
Date published: 2023-09-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from disapointing very interesting subject, but the way to convey the knowledge could be highly improved.
Date published: 2023-09-04
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Fails chemistry and physics I'm sorry to ding this course severely, but there are too many unforced errors here. Density is not the reason that oil and vinegar don't mix: the reason is hydrogen bonding among the vinegar molecules that doesn't occur in oil. The gas constant is really a constant, it doesn't change when you add water vapor to dry air; see Dalton's law of partial pressures. This course brings to mind a certain Charlie Brown character explaining solar eclipses. I'm sure the instructor knows things about meteorology, but his seat-of-the-pants explanations of physical phenomena will leave students knowing less than they did at the beginning. This course needs substantial revision before it is made accessible to the public. But I'm afraid it's much too late for that. Please take it down before it does further harm.
Date published: 2023-08-22
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Very boring, I'd rather just watch the weather change.
Date published: 2023-07-21
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Dry but scienced based presentation A text would probably work better since reading provides more time for thought and look at visual exaples. This felt more like an audio book even though there are many visuals each one imo deserves more time to view (yes we can pause). Would definitely take his course if it were a live presentation and am quite sure his classes are highly rated.
Date published: 2023-07-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from PAY ATTENTION!!! This is an absolutely brilliant course, taught old school. Fovell’s tone may be monotone but his hand and facial gestures enliven. Most importantly, each sentence builds on the next…so PAY ATTENTION! His multitude of visuals helps you with weather’s counterintuitive principles. Unless you are familiar with weather science, the 85-page Guidebook is inadequate. The best way would be to re-do the course at least once after drawing diagrams of the visuals you need in the margins. PROS: 1.) At the end of each lecture, Fovell nicely summarizes his main points. At the beginning of the next lecture, he re-summarizes the prior lecture. During lectures, he frequently reviews how the prior information fits into the current lecture. 2.) Although many weather concepts are mentioned in other Great Courses, Fovell is much more methodical and detailed. Early examples include thermal inertia and his precise discussions of terms commonly used in weather parlance. Another is the lecture 6 (=L6) explanation of air circulation: rising air cools, and sinking air warms up at the rate of 10°C per kilometer. These vertical motions work to decrease the temperature difference that drove the circulation to begin with. 3.) He divides the US into various weather regions, and one begins to get a clearer picture of why things happen in each region. Favorites here include his L6 explanation of the Santa Anna winds; L8 on relative humidity and the wet bulb (where the temperature and dew point meet); and the Ohio Valley cyclone of L14. Though the Froude Number of downslope windstorms and their hydraulic jump on recovery is a bit nerdy, it is necessary to understand supercritical flow – a concept you need to at least superficially understand. 4.) L22 on lightening was extremely well done. 5.) L24 “The Imperfect Forecast” is built upon the astute admissions of imprecision within prior lectures. It is well summed up in Fovell’s sentence: “Microphysics parameterization affects…all (contribute) to forecast uncertainty.” I’d say it differently: Human science is and always will have limited accuracy since Complexity Theory comes into play for any “microphysics parameterization”. If in doubt about this, see the Great Course: “Chaos by Strogatz” - and give both Fovell and the Weather Service enormous credit for their marvelous (though occasionally wrong) forecasts. CONS: 1.) NO HOMEWORK is a CON! Much of the course depends on your retention of terms and counterintuitive concepts that you don’t use every day. To retain this stuff, you need to challenge yourself with homework. Although each lecture ends with very good Questions, NO ANSWERS ARE PROVIDED…thus you can’t check your concept understandings. 2.) In some lectures (ex: L16, L18), he pulls in terms/concepts defined from many lectures and rapidly adds more. It is easy to "get swamped" with abbreviations from MALR, LCL, horizontal vorticity, LFC, CAPE, Td, mC to ELR, dBZ, hodographs and son on. Sometimes “accepting” a concept helps, but “understanding it” may require a second course run-though. SUMMARY: This course is a treasure though its rapid acceleration across chapters can be daunting. Other Great Courses can be helpful if a lecture overwhelms. For instance, L20 of Fovell is more specific regarding the wind/Coriolis nature of “Eckman transport" and deep-water thermohaline circulation over 3 Guidebook pages but harder to grasp than Tobin’s Great Course "Oceanography” by Tobin (L32) where covers Eckman transport is discussed less mathematically over 6 illustrated Guidebook pages. Regarding climate change: though L4 on atmospheric water and CO2 heat absorption and L20 on oceanic wind/convective changes are quite helpful, see also the Great Course “How the Earth Works” by Wysessions L38-L44 (especially L39) to better fit oceanic changes within the climate change "big picture”. Don’t miss Wysessions’ stunning climate comments about worms!
Date published: 2023-06-21
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Good for reinforcing pre-existing knowledge I would not recommend this to the average person, unless you just want to see a sleight-of-hand artist sliding shells around while talking rapidly to distract you. On the other hand, if you have already studied basic physics and chemistry, and you have purchased a thick introductory meteorology text book, and before every lecture, you study the chapters in that book that pertain to the lecture, and have correctly answered all the questions and solved all the problems at the end of the those chapters, and you have mastered all the jargon and phenomena, doing all this before viewing each lecture, then you might enjoy watching and seeing your knowledge confirmed by Prof. Lovell. I have read some of the five star reviews, and frankly, I think that they just enjoy his style; I don’t believe that many of them could pass a simple test on the subject, or give a meaningful explanation of any of the material to a friend.
Date published: 2023-06-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My 14-year-old just completed this course & The Science of Extreme Weather. He loved both of them. They were a fantastic part of his meteorology course.
Date published: 2023-02-28
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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

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