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Jonathan D. W. Kahl

The Atmospheric Science program at the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee regularly offers the general education course Survey of Meteorology, serving over 400 students each year. This article describes a systematic inquiry into the teaching and learning goals of the course and the adequacy of current methods used to assess student performance. Following a survey of the six faculty members with teaching responsibilities for the course, common student learning goals of meteorological content and the application of meteorological concepts to observations were identified. Student surveys, designed to assess both the extent to which these learning goals were being met as well as the depth of learning, were administered to 241 students during the 2005–06 academic year. Results indicate that 80% of students surveyed met the content learning goal, while the application learning goal was met by only 66% of students. A deeper level of application learning, involving pattern recognition and the separation of concepts into component parts, was achieved by only 45% of the students. A comparison of student survey results with course grade distributions indicates that current grading practices are adequate for assessing the content learning goal but are inadequate for assessing the application learning goal.

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Jonathan D. W. Kahl and Julia G. Cerón

For several years the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee's Atmospheric Science group has offered the faculty-led study abroad program Mexico: Air Pollution and Ancient Cultures. In this course, open to both atmospheric science majors and nonmajors as well as to students attending other colleges and universities, participating students learn about the corrosive effects of acid deposition on the limestone surfaces of Mesoamerican archaeological sites. The course content includes not only the science aspects of acid rain and environmental corrosion, but also aspects of Mesoamerican history and anthropology, as well as personal reflection on a variety of social science topics via journaling. The academic content is delivered via lectures and laboratories, guided tours of museums and archaeological sites, visits to Mexican universities, and hands-on measurements and analysis. Postprogram surveys indicate that participating students consider the program to be quite valuable in terms of both academic and personal growth.

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Jonathan D. W. Kahl, Brandon R. Selbig, and Austin R. Harris


Wind gusts are common to everyday life and affect a wide range of interests including wind energy, structural design, forestry, and fire danger. Strong gusts are a common environmental hazard that can damage buildings, bridges, aircraft, and trains, and interrupt electric power distribution, air traffic, waterways transport, and port operations. Despite representing the component of wind most likely to be associated with serious and costly hazards, reliable forecasts of peak wind gusts have remained elusive. A project at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee is addressing the need for improved peak gust forecasts with the development of the meteorologically stratified gust factor (MSGF) model. The MSGF model combines gust factors (the ratio of peak wind gust to average wind speed) with wind speed and direction forecasts to predict hourly peak wind gusts. The MSGF method thus represents a simple, viable option for the operational prediction of peak wind gusts. Here we describe the results of a project designed to provide the site-specific gust factors necessary for operational use of the MSGF model at a large number of locations across the United States. Gust web diagrams depicting the wind speed– and wind direction–stratified gust factors, as well as peak gust climatologies, are presented for all sites analyzed.

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Jonathan D. Kahl, Mark C. Serreze, Spencer Shiotani, Suzanne M. Skony, and Russell C. Schnell

Two new databases containing Arctic in situ meteorological soundings have been constructed and are now available for distribution to interested researchers. The Historical Arctic Rawinsonde Archive is a comprehensive collection of over 1.2 million rawinsonde soundings north of 65°N. For most stations the record begins in 1958 and extends to 1987; however, for some stations the record begins as early as 1948. The Ptarmigan Dropsonde Archive contains more than 10 000 lower-tropospheric soundings over the Beaufort Sea and western Arctic Ocean during the period 1950–1961.

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Jonathan D. W. Kahl, Nina A. Zaitseva, V. Khattatov, R. C. Schnell, Dina M. Bacon, Jason Bacon, V. Radionov, and M. C. Serreze

An historical archive of over 25 000 radiosonde observations from the former Soviet “North Pole” series of drifting ice stations has been compiled and made available to interested researchers. This archive is the only long-term set of meteorological sounding data over the Arctic Ocean. The digital archive is a result of the multiyear, collaborative efforts of a group of United States and Russian scientists and keypunch operators working under the auspices of Working Group VIII, an area of study within the United States–Russian Federation Agreement for Protection of the Environment and Natural Resources. The archive contains soundings from 21 drifting stations over the period 1954–90 and is being distributed by the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.

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