Hurricane Andrew heads toward Louisianna, 1992.
Synoptic meteorology has traditionally been concerned with the analysis and prediction of large-scale weather systems, such as extratropical cyclones and their associated fronts and jet streams. An important aim of synoptic training is to acquaint the student with the structure and behavior of the real atmosphere. This is accomplished formally through coursework and informally through the maintenance of a facility for display of weather information including station reports, satellite pictures, and a wide variety of weather maps and prognostic charts. An expanding interactive computer system allows convenient display and manipulation of meteorological data. The department maintains an extensive archive of weather maps, satellite imagery, and station reports.
Recent synoptic research in the department has dealt with such diverse subjects as the large-scale tropical and subtropical disturbances, extratropical cyclones, polar lows, the interactions between tropical and extratropical systems, and the large-scale effects of volcanic eruptions. Modeling and observational analyses are combined in an integrated approach to synoptic meteorology.
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