What you will study
The weather arises from physical processes within the atmosphere as it responds to the rotation of the earth and the heating effect of the sun. In this course you will discover how these processes determine the weather, how they vary depending on location and time of the year and the extent to which they can be forecast. You will also consider some of the ways in which typical variations in the weather and extreme weather events affect a wide range of human activities.
Scientific concepts relating to temperature, humidity, air pressure, air density, clouds, precipitation and wind will be explained, and you will see how many factors operate together in the atmosphere to produce various types of weather system. This in turn will give you a better understanding of the information conveyed by weather maps. You will also learn about the ways in which meteorological data, including surface and upper-air measurements as well as satellite information, are collected and fed into the computer models that underlie weather forecasting. This will enable you to understand how the professional weather forecasts for your area have been made and how reliable they are likely to be. You will be able to apply this knowledge in making your own short-term predictions of your local weather. There will be plenty of opportunity to consolidate your understanding of the scientific concepts by investigating different weather systems in a variety of climatic zones across the world.
By the end of the course you will have developed a range of study skills associated with retrieving and interpreting information in the form of tables, charts, maps and graphs. You will have the opportunity to undertake some small projects in which you will develop your ability to observe your local weather in a systematic way and to interpret forecasts.
The specially written study materials include a website with online activities using images, videos and other material and links to particular weather stations.
The course is produced in partnership with the Royal Meteorological Society.
By the end of this course you should be able to:
Demonstrate general knowledge and understanding of some of the basic facts, concepts, scientific principles and language relating to meteorology and weather forecasting. In particular you should be able to demonstrate an understanding of:
- the main weather elements, relationships between them and the importance of the weather for human society
- patterns of circulation within the atmosphere and weather at different scales
- formation and evolution of high and low-pressure areas, and of frontal systems
- computer models of the atmosphere and weather forecasts and interpretation of surface pressure charts
- techniques used to gather meteorological data
- how to make, record and interpret observations and simple measurements relating to the weather.
The course features the distinctive strengths of The Open University (OU) from its years of expertise in distance learning:
- The convenience of accessing its clearly presented and sequenced materials, activities and support whenever suits you and wherever you have access to the protected course website – if you prefer, you can print key materials to work on them offline.
- The support of an expert learning adviser who can clarify study materials, answer questions and help you relate the course to your specific needs.
- An online interactive quiz that you can attempt as many times as you wish to help you test your own learning.
- A statement of participation from the OU which you can use to demonstrate your engagement with the course. (N.B. The course does not carry academic credit points.)
Some of the pages within the course contain links to external sites. Accessing these sites is part of the allocated study time for the course. You may also wish to undertake additional background study or reading if some of the concepts introduced are completely unfamiliar to you.
Expert, confidential learner support is available when you need it from a learning adviser, who will respond to you directly. Other support is available via the course forum, dedicated website and computing helpdesk.
This course will require around 100 hours to complete.