GEOG310-17S2 (C) Semester Two 2017

Weather Systems

15 points, 0.1250 EFTS
17 Jul 2017 - 19 Nov 2017


This course examines the processes responsible for day to day weather variations, and the operational techniques used in their analysis and forecasting. This includes both research and operational approaches to the study of synoptic scale weather systems and their impact. The processes studied include those that have an influence on the generation and decay of weather systems, but also those that affect the weather experienced in a local area, such as Canterbury. The emphasis is on factors important in short term weather changes, including stability/instability and atmospheric motion. These factors are studied in relation to air mass changes, as well as the effects of topography. Links between the general and synoptic scale atmospheric circulation are also studied, along with the effects of longer term change, such as the ENSO cycles.

GEOG310 is one of four 15-point thematic courses in physical geography at 300 level. These four courses are complementary and will provide you with a good insight into the range of physical geography approaches that is a hallmark of UC Geography (Coastal studies, Glacial processes, Weather systems and Field-based geomorphic applications). Take all of these courses or combine two or more of them with the Environmental hazards, GIS and/or Remote sensing papers to make up the 60 points (in one subject) needed if you wish to major in physical geography.

GEOG310 involves both acquisition of specific knowledge about weather processes and development of transferable skills, including:

• Understanding the processes behind the weather systems that affect us every day
• Knowledge of the approaches and techniques used to study and forecast the weather
• Practical experience in using weather data analysis tools and products to forecast day-to-day weather
• Development of basic skills in the analysis and assimilation of data, and preparation of technical reports

Learning Outcomes

1. To develop a good understanding of the synoptic-scale atmospheric processes responsible for day-to-day weather changes
2. To investigate the ways in which surface topography can interact with larger scale weather systems to create locally unique weather
3. To acquire practical weather forecasting skills using similar tools and data typically available to professional forecasters

Lab work and project

Three laboratory classes provide an introduction to specialized weather analysis and forecasting techniques, as well as meteorological data available on the internet. These techniques allow analysis of the three-dimensional structure of the atmosphere, including atmospheric stability, air motion, and cloud and precipitation development. The weather analysis project builds on both the skills developed in the labs and the knowledge gained through the lectures, and involves an in-depth analysis of one week’s weather.


30 points of 200-level Geography, including GEOG201, or in special cases with approval of the Head of Department.

Timetable 2017

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 16:00 - 17:00 F1 Lectorial 17 Jul - 27 Aug
11 Sep - 22 Oct
Lecture B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 10:00 - 11:00 A4 Lecture Theatre 24 Jul - 30 Jul
7 Aug - 13 Aug
21 Aug - 27 Aug
18 Sep - 24 Sep
2 Oct - 8 Oct
16 Oct - 22 Oct
Computer Lab A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 11:00 - 14:00 Erskine 248 Computer Lab 7 Aug - 20 Aug
25 Sep - 1 Oct
02 Friday 11:00 - 14:00 Erskine 248 Computer Lab 7 Aug - 20 Aug
25 Sep - 1 Oct

Course Coordinator

Andrew Sturman

Anyone in GEOG310 who is interested in further study in meteorology and climatology should consider joining the Meteorological Society of New Zealand , as it provides a good opportunity to network with potential employers and other weather enthusiasts. Membership of the Society comprises professionals from the MetService and crown research organisations such as NIWA and Landcare, as well as university academics, students and weather enthusiasts. The society holds an annual conference in different parts of New Zealand normally towards the end of the year, which is often attended by a large group of graduate students and staff from Canterbury. The conference is often held jointly with the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, sometimes in Australia. Sources of funding are available within the society and the University to help students attend the annual conference (usually held in mid November) and present papers.
 Prizes are also awarded to the best student papers, with several Canterbury students winning them over recent years. Anyone interested in the society’s activities should contact Andy (a founding member of the society and holder of the society’s Kidson medal) for further information.


Recommended Reading

Sturman, A. P. , Spronken-Smith, Rachel; The physical environment : a New Zealand perspective; Oxford University Press, 2001.

Sturman, Andrew. , Tapper, Nigel; The weather and climate of Australia and New Zealand; 2nd ed; Oxford University Press, 2006 (This is the course text).

Most of the lecture material is based on the course text, with a few examples from other sources (often on the internet) provided during the lectures. The supplementary reading is now out of print, but is freely available from UC Research Repository on the University Library web site.


Domestic fee $817.00

International fee $3,525.00

For further information see Geography.

All GEOG310 Occurrences

  • GEOG310-17S2 (C) Semester Two 2017