Synoptic means "view together" or "view at a common point". Synoptic meteorology is primarily concerned with large-scale weather systems, such as extratropical cyclones and their associated fronts but not as large as the global scale in the previous section. In this section, we will acquaint you with the structure and behavior these smaller scale features.
The forecast weather map (right) is an example of the use of synoptic meterology. Since local time varies around the world, meteorologists around the world need a common point in time if their observations are to have any meaning to their neighbors.
The accepted common point in time is called the Universal Time Coordinate (UTC) also referred to as Zulu time (Z). You will notice all weather maps, radar, and satellite images all have their time expressed in UTC. Doing so allows the many different elements that create our weather (e.g. the high and low pressure systems, fronts, and precipitation areas) can be viewed together at the same instant.
With synoptic meterology useful in observing weather patterns the most visible patterns we can see are via clouds. We begin by looking clouds and how they form.