MSU Denver

Course Descriptions

Please note that the semesters each course is offered is subject to change due to demand.  

MTR 1400 – Weather and Climate

Credits: 3

Prerequisite(s): None

Description: This course introduces the fundamental physical processes in the atmosphereheat and energy, temperature, pressure, wind, clouds, precipitation, and stability. These concepts provide the basis for understanding weather systems, such as thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes. These processes are also applied to climatic patterns and the impacts of human activity on weather and climate, such as air pollution and climate change. An optional 1-credit lab course, MTR2020 Weather and Climate Lab for Scientists, is available for students interested in additional experience in the measurement and analysis of atmospheric data, and is required for some science programs.

General Studies: Natural and Physical Sciences

Guaranteed Transfer: GT-SC2

Instructors:  Ng, Glancy, Spears, Chapman, Wagner, Schuenemann

Semesters Taught:  fall, spring, summer.  Online available.

Required for MTR Majors, MTR Minors, Climate Change Minor


MTR 1600 – Global Climate Change

Credits: 3

Prerequisite(s): None

Description: This course presents the science behind global climate change from an Earth systems and atmospheric science perspective.  These concepts then provide the basis to explore the effect of global warming on regions throughout the world.  This leads to the analysis of the observed and predicted impacts of climate change on these regions; the effect of these changes on each region’s society, culture, and economy; and the efforts of these regions to mitigate or adapt to climate change.  The interdependence of all nations will be discussed in regards to fossil fuel-rich regions, regions responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, and regions most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

General Studies: Natural and Physical Sciences, Global Diversity

Instructors:  Schuenemann, Wagner, Chapman, Gifford, and others

Semesters Taught:  fall, spring, summer.  Online available.

Elective for MTR minors, Required for Climate Change Minor


MTR 2020 – Weather and Climate Lab for Scientists

Credits: 1

Prerequisite(s): Algebra or higher preferred.

Prerequisite(s) or Corequisite(s): MTR 1400

Description: Students are introduced to the basic measurements, calculations and analysis made in the study of atmospheric science. Meteorological lab work in the course includes surface and upper-air charts, thermodynamic diagrams, weather codes, and weather imagery. Students analyze and display weather data in multiple formats, using both traditional hand analysis and using computer analysis and display software. Skills developed include basic UNIX commands and programming logic.

Instructors:  Ng, Schuenemann, Wagner, Landolt

Semesters Taught:  usually fall

Required for MTR Majors, MTR Minors


MTR 2040 – Computer Applications for Meteorology

Credits: 1

Prerequisite(s): MTR 1400

Description: The field of meteorology uses a range of data analysis, visualization software, and programming languages to display and analyze weather data. This course introduces students to basic programming and software to create a foundation in using computers for meteorology or any field that uses meteorological data.

Instructor:  Becker

Semesters Taught: springs beginning spring 2023

Required for MTR major, elective for MTR minor


MTR 2410 – Weather Observing Systems

Credits: 3

Prerequisite(s): MTR 2020

Description: This course provides a survey of the instruments and instrument systems used in operational and research meteorology. The theory of instrument measurement and error, operating principles, and method of operation of surface- and upper-air sensors, as well as radar and satellites, will be presented. The lab component of the course will involve the theory, use, calibration, and maintenance of instruments and the analysis and interpretation of the observations.

Instructors:  Landolt

Semesters Taught: S22, F23, S25

Required for MTR major, elective for MTR minor


MTR/ENV 3100 – Air Pollution

Credits: 3

Prerequisite(s): ENV 1200 or MTR 2020

Description: This course examines the causes and control of air pollution. Topics include pollutant sources and sinks, regional and global-scale pollution problems, monitoring and sampling techniques, regulatory control, meteorological influences, and indoor air quality.

Cross Listed Course(s): ENV 3100

Instructors:  Wagner

Semesters Taught:  some falls

Elective for MTR major, MTR minor, environmental science elective


MTR 3330 – Climatology

Credits: 3

Prerequisite(s): MTR 1400 or GEG 1100, and completion of quantitative literacy requirement

Description: Climatology examines the characteristics, distribution, and causes of global and regional climate. Physical and dynamic mechanisms of climate are emphasized. The course also explores the spatial and temporal distributions of the main climate elements. Climate change topics include paleoclimatology, observed shifts in climate, climate model projections, and potential impacts of global warming.

Instructors:  Wagner

Semesters Taught: F23, S25

Required for MTR Major, elective for MTR Minor, Climate Change Minor, elective for some geography programs


MTR/ENV 3340 – Climate Change Science

Credits: 3

Prerequisite(s): MTR 1600 or GEG 1100 or ENV 1200 or GEL 1010 or GEL 1150 or MTR 1400

Description: This course examines the physical mechanisms of climate change through an integrative earth systems science lens. These processes explain many of the observed changes within the atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, biosphere, and lithosphere of the planet. Aspects of dynamic climate change include movement of energy through the Earth system, atmospheric and oceanic circulation, and hydrologic and carbon cycles. This understanding is applied to interpreting climate model projections, with keen attention to climate sensitivity, time scales of changes, and sources of uncertainty in climate prediction. An understanding of the physical processes driving climate models facilitates an examination of climate change impacts on natural and societal systems.

Instructors:  Schuenemann, Wagner

Semesters Taught: S23, F23, F24, S26

Required for Climate Change Minor, elective for MTR Major and Minor, elective for some other programs


MTR 3400 – Synoptic Meteorology

Credits: 3

Prerequisite(s): MTR 2020

Description: This course presents a descriptive approach to the structure and behavior of mid-latitude, synoptic-scale weather systems. Primary topics include the physics of synoptic-scale air motion, the role of synoptic weather systems in the general circulation, jet streams, airmasses, fronts, and the application of these to cyclones and anticyclones. Elementary quasi-geostrophic theory and weather forecasting are introduced.

Instructors:  Ng

Semesters Taught:  fall

Required for MTR Major, MTR minor


MTR 3410 – Weather Analysis Techniques

Credits: 3

Prerequisite(s): MTR 3400

Description: This is a course in interpretation, understanding, and analysis of weather data, focusing on conventional surface and upper-air data and use of these data in current weather diagnostics. Topics include traditional hand analysis of surface and upper-air weather maps, spatial and temporal cross-sections, thermodynamic diagrams, meso-analyses, and prognostic charts. These topics form the foundation for correct and efficient use of modern computer analysis. This is an essential course for operational and applied research meteorologists.

Instructors:  Ng

Semesters Taught:  spring

Required for MTR major, elective for MTR minor


MTR 3420 – Radar and Satellite Meteorology

Credits: 3

Prerequisite(s): MTR 2020 and MTH 1110 College Algebra or higher

Description: This course provides a physics-based study of the uses of radar and satellites and their application to various meteorological problems. Basic theories of radar and satellites will be applied to the interpretation and analysis of various radar and satellite products. The lab component focuses on the interpretation of radar and satellite imagery using computer display software.

Instructors:  Ng

Semesters Taught:  F24, F26

Required for MTR major 2021 and onward, elective for MTR minor


MTR 3430 – Atmospheric Thermodynamics

Credits: 3

Prerequisite(s): MTH 1410 (calc 1), PHY 2010 or PHY 2311 (college or general physics), MTR 2020 (intro lab)

Description: This course covers classical thermodynamics and its application to atmospheric processes.  Main topics include the equation of state, first and second laws of thermodynamics, adiabatic processes of dry and moist air, stability, thermodynamic diagrams, thermodynamic variables, and convection.

Instructors:  Wagner

Semesters Taught:  S24, F25

Required for MTR major, elective for MTR minor


MTR 3440 – Physical Meteorology

Credits: 3

Prerequisite(s): MTH 2410, PHY 2311, PHY 2321, and MTR 2020

Description: This course is an application of classical physics to common processes in the atmosphere. Main topics include cloud and precipitation physics, atmospheric radiation, radiative transfer, lightning, optical phenomena and weather modification.

Instructors:  Wagner

Semesters Taught: S23, F24, S26

Required for old MTR major, required for professional concentration, elective for applied concentration, elective for MTR minor


MTR 3450 – Dynamic Meteorology

Credits: 3

Prerequisite(s): MTR 2020, MTH 2410, PHY 2311

Description: This course covers the fundamentals of fluid dynamics necessary for understanding large-scale atmospheric motions. The focus of the course is the development, derivation, and analysis of the laws of conservation of mass, momentum, and energy, as they apply to middle latitude, synoptic scale weather systems.

Instructors:  Schuenemann

Semesters Taught: F23, S25

Required for old MTR major, required for professional concentration, elective for applied concentration, elective for MTR minor


MTR 3500 – Hazardous Weather

Credits: 3

Prerequisite(s): MTR 1400 or AES 1400; and completion of General Studies requirements in Written Communication

Description: This course considers the nature and causes of hazardous weather, the predictability of hazardous weather events, and the economic and societal impacts of these events. The strategies for the protection of life and property from hazardous weather are also considered.

Instructors:  Landolt, Wagner

Semesters Taught:  S24, S26

Elective for old MTR major, required for applied concentration, elective for professional concentration, elective for MTR minor


MTR 3710 – Meteorology Internship

Credits: 3-6

Prerequisite(s): Registration with the Applied Learning Center Internship Program.

Description: This course provides an on-the-job internship experience with a meteorology-related company or agency. The experience must be done under qualified supervision and the auspices of an Earth and Atmospheric Sciences faculty member.

Note: This course may be repeated for up to 12 credits; the first enrollment must be a minimum of 3 credits.

Instructors:  usually the current department chair

Semesters Taught:  fall, spring, summer

Elective for MTR major, elective for MTR minor


MTR 3777 – Field Observations of Severe Weather

Credits: 3

Prerequisite(s): MTR 2410 and MTR 3410

Description: This field-based course is intended to combine classroom theories with actual field observations. Students are required to meet for an one-hour course on safety and expectations before the start of the class. The course will concentrate severe weather field observations across Central and High-Plains. Overnight stay will be necessary due to the ever-changing nature of weather patterns. Additional course fee is required. Students are responsible to pay for the outside incidentals, such as food and drinks.

Instructors:  Ng, Landolt

Semesters Taught:  some Maymesters

Elective for MTR major, elective for MTR minor


MTR 4210 – Forecasting Laboratory

Credits: 1

Prerequisite(s): MTR 3410

Description: This is a laboratory course in which the principles of synoptic meteorology and weather computer technology are used in developing a weather forecast. Students are introduced to computerized weather data access, display, and analysis using meteorological software applications. Students learn to use surface and upper-air data, satellite and radar imagery, numerical model output, and other weather data in the preparation of weather forecasts. Principles of weather briefing and forecast decision making are also introduced.

Instructors:  Ng, Schuenemann

Semesters Taught:  some falls, some springs

Elective for MTR major, elective for MTR minor, may be repeated up to 4 times.


MTR 4400 – Advanced Synoptic Meteorology

Credits: 4

Prerequisite(s): MTR 2410, MTR 3410, MTR 3450

Description: This course is a calculus-based examination of the three-dimensional structure of mid-latitude, synoptic scale weather systems. Main topics include quasi-geostrophic theory, extratropical cyclone structure and evolution, diagnosis of vertical motions, jet streams, and frontogenesis. The lab component involves the hand analysis and computer-based analysis of live, forecasted, and archived weather data.

Instructors:  Schuenemann

Semesters Taught:  S24, F25

Required for old MTR major, required for professional concentration, elective for applied concentration, elective for MTR minor


MTR 4500 – Mesometeorology

Credits: 3

Prerequisite(s): MTR 3410 and MTH 1410

Description: This is an advanced course in recognizing, understanding, and forecasting mesoscale weather events (severe thunderstorms, hailstorms, tornadoes, downslope windstorms, flash floods, snowstorms, etc.) with emphasis on theory, analysis of weather data, and forecast decision making.

Instructors:  Ng

Semesters Taught:  S23, S25, S27

Required for old MTR major, required for professional concentration, elective for applied concentration, elective for MTR minor


MTR 4600 – Meteorology Research Seminar

Credits: 3

Prerequisite(s) or Corequisite(s): Senior Standing and 12 upper division(3000+) meteorology credits

Description: This is a capstone course required of all meteorology majors. Students engage in a research project that involves the application of scientific methodology to meteorological or climatological data and problem solving. Students learn to do literature searches, create a problem statement, handle data, perform statistical analysis, and present data and results. Technical writing and oral presentation skills are emphasized.

University Requirement(s): Senior Experience

Instructors:  Landolt, Ng, Wagner, Schuenemann

Semesters Taught:  S23, F24, S26

Required for MTR major