Lab writing tips

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SO335: guidance on writing about meteorological and oceanographical data (based on figures that you create, or possibly find from another source) 1. Be specific about geographical references. Avoid broad, sweeping statements. For example, do not say, “Pressure gradients were the same on 28 Jun 2012 and 25 Dec 2013.” Instead, say, “The winter-hemisphere polar regions, from 60-80 degrees S (on 28 Jun 2012; Figure 1) and 60 80 degrees N (on 25 Dec 2013; Figure 2), exhibited mean sea level pressure gradients of similar magnitudes.” 2. Describe what each variable and color represents. Pretend you are writing to a scientifically literate audience, but one that is unaware of this specific task. Orient the reader. For example, say “Magnitude of pressure gradient, indicated by shaded colors in Figures 1 and 2, indicated the ‘closeness’ of isobars, as pressure gradient measures the change of pressure over space. Direction of pressure gradient is indicated by red arrows, and magnitude is indicated by length of the arrow. Pressure gradient vectors always point toward higher pressure and are oriented perpendicular to isobars.” 3. Stay away from conjecture that you aren’t sure about. For example, avoid saying “Pressure gradient vectors always pointed towards low pressure.” (They don’t point toward low pressure; they instead point toward higher pressure). 4. A paragraph typically contains 4-6 sentences, not 1-2. 5. Quantify statements about “strength” or “value”. Don’t say “pressure gradients were weak.” Instead, say “On both days, equatorial (10S to 10N) surface pressure gradients were relatively weak, between 0 and 0.5 hPa per degree.” Example for Figs 1 and 2 (the pressure gradient section) The winter-hemisphere polar regions, from 60-80 degrees S (on 28 Jun 2012; Figure 1) and 60-80 degrees N (on 25 Dec 2013; Figure 2), exhibited mean sea level pressure gradients of similar magnitudes. Pressure gradients were largest on 28 Jun 2012 near Antarctica and the southern ocean, with gradients of up to 5 hPa per degree noted (Figure 1). On 25 Dec 2013, pressure gradients were large over both polar regions, up to 5 hPa per degree again near the Antarctic coast, and also south of Alaska and over northwest Russia (Figure 2). On both days, equatorial (10S to 10N) surface pressure gradients were relatively weak, between 0 and 0.5 hPa per degree. Magnitude of pressure gradient, indicated by shaded colors in Figures 1 and 2, indicated the ‘closeness’ of isobars, as pressure gradient measures the change of pressure over space. Direction of pressure gradient was indicated by red arrows, and magnitude was indicated by length of the arrow. Pressure gradient vectors always pointed toward higher pressure and were oriented perpendicular to isobars, meaning that pressure gradient vectors could be used to identify areas of surface high and low pressure.

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