ATMOS 6020

Physical Meteorology


Instructor: Tim Garrett

Location: WBB 820

Hours: MW 1:25pm - 2:45pm

tim.garrett at

The foundations of the earth's atmosphere begin with a few key ingredients: transformations of the solar electromagnetic energy input to heat; transformations of heat to changes in temperature, pressure, and the phase of water; and vertical and horizontal re-distribution of atmospheric constituents. Understanding how each of the components are inter-related is critical to understanding the atmosphere, and why and how climate changes. This course seeks to explain the physics behind these essential elements.

Students who complete this course can expect to have as an outcome a solid theoretical understanding of the underlying physics and mechanics of thermodynamics, cloud physics, and the roles of heat and light in climate.

Problem sets: 50%. Weekly problem sets assigned Wednesday. A portion will be assigned for presentation and discussion the following Thursday outside regular class time between 4 and 5 pm in WBB 820

Tests: 50%. Two exams of one period each. A formula sheet will be provided. A short question will be assigned at the beginning of each class based on assigned reading.

The exam may be weighted more or less, if this is to the student's advantage.

The grading scheme will be A: 80+, B: 70+, C: 60+, D: 50+, F: 50-

Questions are most quickly responded to by email, or (more slowly) by prior appointment. Don’t be shy to request appointments.

Course material will be based primarily on class notes, but I also recommend Wallace and Hobbs, Atmospheric Science 2nd Ed. This provides a clearly written straight-forward perspective on many of the core concepts this course will cover.