Read my opinion piece from
The Chronicle of Higher Education (Vol. 48, B8, Aug. 8, 1999):

Colleges Should Tap the Pedagogical Potential of the World-Wide Web


Institution: Penn State Univ.
EMS College
Meteorology Dept.
University address: Alistair B. Fraser
Meteorology Dept.
502 Walker Bldg.
University Park,
PA 16802
Telephone: (250) 825-0130
University e-mail:
Personal e-mail:
Personal domain:

Web Visualization
Bad Science
Bad Meteorology
Did you know?
Weather quiz
English quiz


Alistair B. Fraser
Emeritus Professor of Meteorology
Pennsylvania State University

  Emeritus Professor of Meteorology, 2001
  Professor of Meteorology, 1978
  Ph.D., Imperial College, University of London, 1968
  B.Sc., Math & Phys, U. of British Columbia, 1962




2003. The Teaching Excellence Award of the American Meteorological Society. The citation reads: “for innovative use of technology in the classroom while educating and inspiring a generation of undergraduate and graduate students.”
2002. Special Award of the American Meteorological Society. This was for his role as an Associate Editor of the Glossary of Meteorology. The citation commends the Editorial Board: “which marshaled the energies and talents of hundreds of contributors to produce a reference work of immeasurable benefit to the community.”
  1998   Mitchell Award for Innovative Teaching, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, PSU.
  1997   Syllabus Scholar. One of only five such scholars in the country, Fraser was so named for his contributions both to pedagogical technology and to the instruction of other professors in the advantages of and techniques for employing it.
  1986   William Driver Award of the North American Vexillological Association
  1984   Fellow of the Optical Society of America
  1976   Wilson Award for Outstanding Teaching, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, PSU




I am an enthusiastic teacher and am constantly searching for more effective ways to communicate with students. As a result, I have developed extensive interactive material on the computer which I use in the classroom to help communicate ideas. Many of my more recent pedagogical resources are available on the web so that students can make full use of them in the dormitory or home. The most advanced of these is the material I employ in the PSU course, a SURVEY OF ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES, which is offered to sophomores. These resources, entitled, Introductory Meteorology, are available to my own students and others through my personal domain, Apple Computer, Inc. has published an article on my this course in a supplement to Apple University Arts (Spring 1999). The supplement was entitled, Teaching Transformed and Learning without Limits, and was distributed on paper to universities across the US. It is available on the web at Introductory Meteorology Courses Transformed by the Web or as a pdf file.

However, I don't believe that teaching is something to be confined to the classroom or even the educational institution itself. Consequently, I have extended my teaching through articles, books, the web, and even museum exhibits. But, beyond using these media to teach about my specialties, I have written about and given many talks and workshops on the art of teaching, itself.

A sampling of other instructional and expository material I have published (some on the web) includes:


2001 -  Top Five Meteorological Misconceptions, The Penn Stater, 88. 4 (Mar/Apr), p. 16.

  1995 - present   Bad Meteorology (there are occasional updates to this series of web pages on the subject of teaching about weather in schools)
  1992   Fall Streaks: Parabolic Trajectories with a Twist. (with Craig F. Bohren) Am. J. Phys. 60, 11, 1030-1033.
  1992   Is virga rain that evaporates before reaching the ground? (with Craig F. Bohren) Monthly Weather Review. 120, 8, 1565-71.
  1990   The light at the end of the rainbow. (an invited paper with Raymond L. Lee, Jr.). New Scientist, 127, 1732, 40-44.
  1985   Colors of the sky. (with Craig F. Bohren), The Physics Teacher, 2, 3 5, 267-272. (invited paper).
  1983   Chasing Rainbows: Numerous Supernumeraries are Super. Weatherwise, 36, 8, 280-289. (invited paper).
  1982   A Celestial Festival of Lights, Reader's Digest (Canada), 120, 717, 128-131.
  1981   Dazzling Phenomena. A chapter in The Fire of Life Smithsonian Exposition Books. 92-99.
  1976   Mirages. (with W.H. Mach), Scientific American, 234, 1, 102-111. (invited paper).
  1972   Halo-Phanomene. Physik in unserer zeit, 3, 3-9.
  1968   Cloud Forms: Cirrus, Wave Clouds and Rotors (with R.S. Scorer), Diana Wyllie Ltd. (filmstrip with booklet DW-F131). Also, 1968 Cloud Forms: Cumulus and Stratus (with R.S. Scorer) Diana Wyllie, Ltd. (filmstrip with booklet DW-F130).


I have also instigated, developed, and consulted on a number of museum exhibits (in both the sciences and humanities), a sampling of which is:

 1989   The Maple Leaf Forever New: An exhibit of the history of Canada's flags exhibited at the CANADIAN MUSEUM OF CIVILIZATION to mark the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the National Flag. I served as the instigator, consultant, and supplier of extensive material for the exhibit. It was on display at the C.M.C. from December 15, 1989 until November, 25 1990.
 1972   Meteorological Optics: Forty-three 11x14 and 16x20 color photos and explanatory booklet. It was on display at the NATIONAL CENTER FOR ATMOSPHERIC RESEARCH, Boulder, Colorado from 1972 to 1986. A duplicate of this exhibit was chosen by the SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTE TRAVELING EXHIBITION SERVICE for a two year tour of Canada and the United States where it was shown in twelve museums and planetaria between 1972 and 1974.
 1971   Clouds: Twenty-four 8x10 photographs of cloud formations with explanatory legends. PACIFIC SCIENCE CENTER, Seattle, Washington. 1971-1975.


And then there are the articles I have published about teaching, itself. Some of these are:

  2001 Web Visualization for Teachers. Syllabus, 14, 8, 18-21, 36. This is an invited piece.
  1999  Colleges Should Tap the Pedagogical Potential of the World-Wide Web, The Chronicle of Higher Education (Vol. 48, Page: B8, Aug. 8, 1999; Section: Opinion & Arts). This is an invited opion piece.
  1998   Fraser's Rule, Syllabus, 12, 2, 45-59.
  1996   The Web, a Classroom sans Walls, Syllabus, 10, 4, p. 18-20. At the request of the editor, this article subsequently formed a chapter in Technology Tools for Today's Campuses [CD ROM], ed. J. L. Morrison, (1997, Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, WA).
  1995   Transforming Chalk Dust into Mouse Droppings," Earth & Mineral Sciences, 64, 1, 19-20.
  1995 - present   Bad Science. (there are occasional updates to this series of web pages on the subject of teaching science in schools)


Beyond this, I give many lectures and workshops on teaching and the use of technology in teaching for the benefit of students. In the last few years, I have given such talks or workshops, or both, at the following institutions:

2001  Syllabus Spring 2001, Cincinnati, OH; Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, Cincinnati, OH; Collaboration in Academe, University of Michigan, MI; Math Dept., Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD; Faculty Academy 2001: Building Bridges for Lifelong Learning in an e-World, Penn State University; Syllabus 2001 Conference, CA; Appalacian College Consortium, Tech Summit, Johnstone City, TN
2000   Academic Leadership Forum, Penn State University; Learning from the Net, The Leading Edge in Internet-Based Education, N.S.F. Workshop, Stanford University, CA; New Media, Penn State Univeristy, PA; Productivity Point Corp., Orlando, FL; Univ. of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN; Syllabus 2000 Conference, CA; Syllabus Institute, CA, Buncker Hill CC, Boston, MA.
1999   New College University, NYC; Penn State University, PA; BlackboardSummit, DC; Misson College, CA; Syllabus 99 Conference, CA; Syllabus Institute, CA, Penn State Univeristy, PA; Appalachian College Tech Summit, Knoxville, TN; Buncker Hill CC, Boston, MA.
  1998   American University, DC; Penn State Univeristy, PA; Alleghany College, PA; College of Charleston, SC; Sonoma State University, CA; Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico, PR.; Winona State University, MN; American Geophysical Union, Boston, MA; Georgia State University, GA; University of Florida, FL; Florida State University, FL; College of DuPage, IL; Loch Haven State Universtiy, PA.
  1997   Waubonsee Community College, IL; Cob County School District, GA; Drexel University, PA; Penn State University, PA; Rutgers University, NJ; Hofstra Univesity, NY; Sonoma State University, CA; Broward Community College, FL; Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico, PR.; Bates College, ME; Middle Tennessee State University, TN; Tulane University, LA.




My main interest in research involves the play of light in the atmosphere, but I have published paper which have ranged over cloud physics, radiative transfer, artificial intelligence, and social history. A sampling of some recent papers is:

  1994   Subsuns, Bottlinger's Rings and Elliptical Halos. (with David K. Lynch, Stanley D. Gedzelman) Applied Optics, 33, 21, 4580-4586.
 1994   The Sylvanshine: retroreflection in dew-covered trees. Applied Optics., 33, 21, 4539-4547.
 1993   The Green Thunderstorm. (with Craig Bohren) Bull. Am. Met. Soc. 74, 11, 2185-2193.
 1991   A Canadian Flag for Canada. Journal of Canadian Studies, 25, 4, 64-80.
 1991   A simple technique for multiple-parameter pattern recognition. (with Steven S. Fine) Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, 7, 896-908.
 1988   Indirect sensing of Plant Canopy Structure. (with Steven Perry, Dennis Thomson, & John Norman), Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 42, 255-278.
 1985   Colors of the sky. (with Craig F. Bohren), The Physics Teacher, 23, 5, 267-272. (invited paper).
 1983   Why can supernumerary bows be seen in a rain shower? J. Opt. Soc. Am. 73, 12, 1626-1628.
  1980   Analytic Sun Pillar Model. (with G.J. Thompson), J. Opt. Soc. Am. 70, 9, 1145-1148.
  1979   Simple Solution for Obtaining a Temperature Profile from the Inferior Mirage. Applied Optics, 18, 11, 1724-1731.
 1979   What Size of Ice Crystals Causes the Halos? J. Opt. Soc. Am. 69, 8, 1112-1118.
  1975   The Green Flash and Clear Air Turbulence. Atmosphere, 13, 1, 1-10.




2001  THE RAINBOW BRIDGE: Rainbows in Art, Myth, and Science, by Raymond L. Lee, Jr., and Alistair B Fraser.(Pennsylvania State Press:, 2001.408 pp.ISBN: 0271019778).

Nature (Nov. 29, 2001) described the book as: "Stunningly well informed about the art, science, philosophy and history of all eras since the Periclean Golden Age, unerringly elegant, flatteringly intelligent and beautifully illustrated, it is a masterful piece of accessible scholarship."

Publishers Weekly (June 18, 2001) says: "This smart, impassioned cross-disciplinary study, with its many color photos and illustrations, provides an eight-course feast for the intellect and the eyes."

  2000  Glossary of Meteorology, American Meteorological Society, Second Edition. Glickman, Todd, Managing Editor.855 pages. Many people were involved in this project. Alistair B. Fraser was on the Editorial Board and was the Associate Editor for meteorological optics.

1997   The Flags of Canada. This is a book of about 120 thousand words which is published on line. At the moment, it does not contain any illustrations, but these will gradually be added.

The book has recently been reviewed and referenced by the Encyclopedia Britannica's Internet Guide in their section on Canadian History. In a system which categorized sites as either Noteworthy, Recommended, Excellent, Superior, or Best of the Web, the EB rated the Flags of Canada as Superior (which places it higher than their rating of many sites created by museums) and said:

Online version of the scholarly book of the same title that focuses on the flags of the nation from confederation to the present. Features detailed information about Canada's national symbols, the Royal Union flag, Canadian ensigns, flags of national defense, flags of occasion, and flags of individual provinces. A glossary, bibliography, and chronology are also included with this mammoth work.

The review can be found at eBLAST > History > Level 2 > Canada

  1981   The Atmosphere Third Edition. (with Anthes, Cahir and Panofsky), Charles E. Merrill. 531 pages. Earlier editions appeared in 1978 and 1975.



  1990   Method and apparatus for illumination of a liquid droplet fountain to produce Rainbows (with Ripley Golovin). United States Patent Number 4,975,811, Date of Patent: Dec. 4, 1990. Patents have also been awarded in Canada and a number of E.E.C countries.



self portrait in a mirrored elevator |