Urban and Topographic Meteorology

Module summary

Module code: ENVI1175
Level: 5
Credits: 15
School: Engineering and Science
Department: Natural Resources Institute
Module Coordinator(s): Peter Burt



Building on the introductory material presented in the L4 course Earth’s Dynamic Systems, this course introduces students to the relationship between topography and weather processes and their role in dispersal and concentration of atmospheric material. In this context, ‘topography’ is taken to mean natural structures (mountains, valleys, water bodies) and also human-created or modified environments (primarily cities).

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course a student will be able to:

1 Explain the methods of formation and operation of topographically-influenced weather systems.
2 Analyse and present data relating to airborne dispersal of biological and non-biological material in the atmosphere.
3 Appreciate and discuss the roles played by different land forms and surfaces in influencing the behaviour of the lower atmosphere.
4 Present combined weather and topographic data, identifying any relationships between them.

Indicative content

The nature of natural topographic airflows (mountain and valley winds, sea/lake breezes), urban meteorology and the boundary layer; the role of weather systems in influencing airborne dispersal of biological and non-biological material; air pollution monitoring - pollen and particulates; synoptic-scale processes (mid-latitude depressions, tropical storms).

Teaching and learning activity

Theories and concepts will be introduced through formal lectures. These will be supported by case study elements where the emphasis will be on student centred learning. The experience of collecting and using data will be important experience prior to the final year dissertation.


Method of SUMMATIVE assessment: Practical exercise
Outcomes assessed:1,2,4
Grading Mode (e.g. pass/ fail; %): %
Weighting % :50%
Passmark: 40%
Word Length: n/a
Outline Details: Analysis and written presentation of airborne pollution behaviour in relation to the weather.

Method of SUMMATIVE assessment: Seminar
Outcomes assessed:1,3,4
Grading Mode (e.g. pass/ fail; %): %
Weighting % :50%
Passmark: 40%
Word Length: n/a
Outline Details: Presentation of a case study relating to an aspect of a topographically-influenced weather process or system.

Nature of FORMATIVE assessment supporting student learning:
In-class discussion and worked examples. Prior experience and feedback from delivering seminars.