Course Summary

This course explores the structure of atmosphere, including its chemical constituents as well as its physical and dynamical properties as they pertain to every day weather and climate.

  • Emphasis will be placed on energy forms as they relate to temperature, moisture forms, as they relate to clouds and precipitation, and pressure patterns as they relate wind flow. We will also examine air masses, fronts and mid-latitude cyclones; as well as the development and evolution of severe weather phenomena including thunderstorms, lightning, tornadoes, hurricanes, and air quality.
  • Weather map discussions will be used to illustrate the concepts and principles.

Course Syllabus

  • The Earth and Its Atmosphere: Overview of the Earth's Atmosphere; Vertical Structure of the Atmosphere; Weather and Climate
  • Energy, Warming the Earth and the Atmosphere: Energy, Temperature, and Heat; Heat Transfer in the Atmosphere; Radiation; Balancing Act Absorption, Emission, and Equilibrium; Incoming Solar Energy
  • Seasonal and Daily Temperatures: Why the Earth Has Seasons; Local Seasonal Variations; Daily Temperature Variations; The Controls of Temperature; Air Temperature Data; Air Temperature and Human Comfort; Measuring Air Temperature
  • Atmospheric Moisture: Water in the Atmosphere; Absolute Humidity; Specific Humidity and Mixing Ratio; Vapor Pressure; Relative Humidity
  • Condensation, Dew, Fog, and Clouds: The Formation of Dew and Frost; Condensation Nuclei; Haze; Fog; Foggy Weather; Clouds
  • Stability and Cloud Development: Atmospheric Stability; Determining Stability; Cloud Development
  • Precipitation: Precipitation Process; Precipitation Types; Measuring Precipitation
  • The Atmosphere in Motion: Air Pressure, Forces, and Winds: Atmospheric Pressure; Surface and Upper-Level Charts; Newton's Laws of Motion; Forces That Influence the Winds; Winds and Vertical Air Motions
  • Air Masses and Fronts: Air Masses; Fronts; Source regions, and classification
  • Thunderstorms and Tornadoes: What Are Thunderstorms? Ordinary (Air-Mass) Thunderstorms; Severe Thunderstorms; Distribution of Thunderstorms; Lightning and Thunder; Tornadoes; Severe Weather and Doppler Radar
  • Hurricanes: Tropical Weather; Anatomy of a Hurricane; Hurricane Formation and Dissipation; Naming Hurricanes
  • Global Climate Change: Earth’s changing climate, possible causes of climate change, and Global warming