Course Description

The most fundamental atmospheric measurements are temperature, pressure, and humidity. This course explores the meaning of these in great detail, so that students should come out with a strong understanding of the thermodynamics of the particular two-component system – dry air and water – most important to understanding weather.

Geog 220 presents the following sequence of steps: warming air becomes less dense (expands) and may rise, rising air cools, as the water vapor cools along with the air, it cannot stay in vapor state and starts to condense. Keep that going and a cloud will form, and eventually, under the right circumstances, rain may fall. This course repeats all those points, but tries to provide a deeper understanding, working from a few physical priniciples and using some math to get quantitative answers.


Geog 420/620 Atmospheric Physics

Fall 2006

11:15–12:05 Monday, Wednesday, & Friday, Sharp Lab 118

Office Hours

Text: M. L. Salby, Fundamentals of Atmospheric Physics.

Projects: Eight problem sets, mostly of pencil-paper-calculator problem solving with a little computer work.

Tests: two hour exams, a comprehensive final exam.

Full syllabus

Problem Sets (PDFs)

One Two Three Four

Five Six Seven Eight


Pseudo-adiabatic chart (PDF)

FSL radiosonde data format.

Example radiosonde observation

Mountain Problem spreadsheet

Raindrop spreadsheet.

Warm Raindrop notes.

Visibility spreadsheet.