Introduction to Tropical Meteorology



This distance learning course provides students and operational meteorologists with a better understanding of the meteorological processes in the tropics. It also aims to stimulate future research focused on forecasting problems in the tropics. The course uses COMET's Introduction to Tropical Meteorology, 2nd Edition online textbook which provides an introduction to the atmospheric processes in the tropics and recent developments in the field of tropical meteorology. Optional, special topics lessons are included and will be added to as new lessons are published. 

For instructors interested in offering a tropical synoptic meteorology course, a syllabus and resources are available for reuse here: Tropical Synoptic Meteorology Curriculum Package

Goals and Objectives

Course Goal

The goal of this course is to introduce forecasters and other learners to the following:

  • Atmospheric circulation in the tropics
  • Tropical weather features such as tropical cyclones, monsoons, easterly waves etc.
  • Major cycles dominating intraseasonal and interannual tropical variability

Course Objectives

The instructional objectives for this course provide a review of the following core concepts:

  • Overview of energy balance and the global climate system
  • Remote sensing of weather and climate across the global tropics
  • Overview of general principles of atmospheric motion and global circlulation
  • Tropical variability with an overview of cyclical patterns and intraseasonal and interannual variability
  • Distribution of moisture and precipitation across the tropics
  • Vertical transport of heat, moisture, momentum and diurnal and seasonal variations in surface fluxes and boundary depth
  • Synpotic and mesoscale systems
  • Tropical cyclone development, intensity, and extratropical transition
  • Challenges in tropical weather observation, analysis, and prediction

Target Audience

The target audience includes undergraduate students and meteorologists who have completed introductory meteorology and who know basic thermodynamic and dynamic meteorology. 

Prerequisite Knowledge

The online textbook assumes that learners have a familiarity with the basic theories of meteorology. Accordingly, the textbook will assume exposure to and some familiarity with the following concepts:

  • Structure of the atmosphere, ranges of surface pressure and temperature
  • Basic understanding of energy and radiation
  • The basics of atmospheric thermodynamics
  • The laws of motion
  • The general circulation of the atmosphere and oceans
  • Weather analysis and forecasting
  • Basic knowledge of remote sensing using satellites and radar

For students wishing to explore theoretical derivations, familiarity with differential calculus is recommended.


Course Outline

Additional Resources

Course Outline