In the University of Wisconsin system, the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences is the academic home for teaching and research activities in these fields. From two professors in 1948 the Department of Meteorology has grown and evolved into the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences with 16 faculty members. It shares the 15-story Atmospheric Oceanic and Space Sciences Building, at 1225 West Dayton Street, with the Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC). Most of the work in SSEC is on the earth's atmosphere or the atmosphere of other planets, with a strong component in instrument development. Also located within the building is the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, a joint effort among the University, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Finally, the building houses the Center for Climatic Research which is part of the University's Institute for Environmental Studies.
In the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences we have access to up-to-the-minute weather data. When entering the AOSS building, one is greeted in the lobby by a large plasma flat panel monitor displaying current weather observations, satellite and radar imagery, and computer model forecasts. An observation tower on the AOSS building roof provides continuous observations of temperature, moisture, pressure, wind speed and direction, precipitation and incoming solar radiation.
The computer classroom on 14th floor has a large application, data and storage server with 15 connected Windows/Linux workstations for students to use in class and for coursework or research, plus another workstation that can be projected at the front of the room. Several additional computers are available to use for work outside the classroom, both within the building and remotely from home, libraries, coffee shops, etc.
The Department of AOS is a member of Unidata and participates in the Internet Data Distribution project. Current and archived surface and upper air observations, satellite imagery, NEXRAD radar level 2 and level 3 products, Forecast model output data, and lightning data are all readily available for use in classes, projects and research. Software available for data plotting and analysis include GEMPAK, Matlab, and vis5d. The AOS web site weather section provides easy internet access to plotted maps of analyses, forecast model output, satellite, radar and lightning data, and more.
Most individual professors also have extensive computing capabilities and laboratory facilities for their research. There is ready access from computers in the department to supercomputer clusters at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and supercomputers at other universities and government research laboratories around the country.
Reference libraries are found within the building, in adjacent Weeks Hall, in the nearby Wendt Engineering Library, and in Science Hall. Online access to many scientific journals is also provided.
Among the University of Wisconsin - Madison's approximately 40,000 students, there are usually between 40 and 60 students taking courses in our degree program. These students usually know each other well. There are several social gatherings per year such as the traditional Solstice Party. Many take the opportunity to participate in various activities in the department such as the strong local student chapter of the American Meteorological Society.