EAS-A 474 Topics in Atmospheric Science

Spring 2023: Mesoscale Meteorology

General Details

Instructor: Dr. Cody Kirkpatrick (my email address)

Meetings: MWF 11:30-12:20, Geology 2033. All meetings are in person -- no "Zoom" is planned. Sorry about the Friday meetings, I don't get a vote when it comes to the schedule.

Graduate section (574) meets at the same time and place.


  • At least one atmospheric science course, so that you are already familiar with some of the vocabulary we will use in this senior-level science course.
  • At least Calculus I or Brief Survey. We'll use derivatives and a few integrals, so this is important.

What is the mesoscale?

Much of the "sensible weather" we experience is produced by mesoscale phenomena. Broadly speaking, the mesoscale includes atmospheric flows that are larger than those dominated by turbulence (we don't study dust devils) and smaller than those that are essentially in geostrophic balance (we don't study midlatitude cyclones). To be precise, Orlanski (1975) defined the mesoscale as motions on spatial scales from 2 to 2000 km. Very few simplifications to the equations of motion are permitted at the mesoscale; hence it is often one of the most challenging -- and most rewarding -- study study areas for scientists and students.


  • Energy conservation of air parcels; review of importance of water vapor
  • Buoyancy and vertical motion of air parcels; instability in the atmosphere
  • Thunderstorm morphology and evolution: single cell, multicell, supercell
  • Formation of cold pools and gust fronts; Bernoulli's equation
  • Drylines; the Great Plains Low Level Jet
  • As time permits: tornadogenesis, hurricane formation and movement, forecasting
  • Radar meteorology, including polarimetric variables


There is nothing to buy. The book, "Mesoscale Meteorology" by Markowski and Richardson, is available for download through the IU library at no cost.

To learn more:

Just email me, I'm happy to talk more about the course.


Page updated on November 8, 2022.