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ES 401: Fundamentals of Atmospheric Physics and Meteorology

Course Title

Fundamentals of Atmospheric Physics and Meteorology

Course Code

ES 401

Course Type




Year / Semester

1st / 1st (Subject to change)

Instructor’s Name

Panos Hadjinicolaou (Lead Instructor)



Lectures / week

1 (3h)

Laboratories / week


Course Purpose and Objectives

The course aims to provide: foundation for the physical aspects of the atmosphere and weather, with an emphasis in the lower part of the atmosphere; description of the atmospheric composition and structure; presentation of the main processes in the atmosphere including, heat exchange, radiation, air motion and related manifestations such as air temperature, cloud formation, precipitation, wind patterns, weather systems.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course students should be able to: list the main components of the atmosphere; understand their key manifestations such as the behavior of air parcels with its surroundings involving heat, radiation, moisture and momentum; deduce expected outcomes for a given atmospheric situation (e.g. stability of the atmosphere given a   temperature profile); describe cloud formation and precipitation; identify the various weather systems and circulations in different spatial and time scales; perform scale analysis of atmospheric motion.



 Requirements  None

Course Content

1.  Introduction and fundamental concepts

1.1  The constitution of the atmosphere

1.2  The state of the atmosphere

2.  Atmospheric thermodynamics

2.1  The first law of thermodynamics

2.2  Adiabatic processes

2.3  Water vapor in air

2.4  Atmospheric stability

2.5  The atmospheric heat engine

3.  Radiation

3.1  Radiation spectrum

3.2  Blackbody radiation

3.3  Scattering, absorption, emission

3.4  Radiative transfer

4.  Clouds and precipitation

4.1  Saturation, sub-cloud layer

4.2  Condensation

4.3  Cloud droplet growth

4.4  Cloud development

4.5  Precipitation (water, ice, growth)

4.6  Warm, cold and mixed clouds

5.  Elements of atmospheric dynamics and weather

5.1  Kinematics of the large-scale flow

5.2  Apparent and real forces

5.3  The full equations of motion

5.4  Synoptic scale motion, geostrophy, thermal wind

5.5  Small-scale weather systems

5.6  Large-scale weather systems in mid-latitudes

5.7  Large-scale weather systems in low latitudes

6.  Atmospheric boundary layer

6.1  Turbulence

6.2  Vertical structure

6.3  Evolution

6.4  Special effects

Teaching Methodology



1) McIlveen R., Fundamentals of Weather and Climate, 2010, Oxford University Press, 632 pp.

2) Wallace J.M. and Hobbs P.V., Atmospheric Science: An Introductory Survey, 2nd Edition, 2006, Elsevier, pp 483.

3) Salby M., Physics of the Atmosphere and Climate, 2012, 2nd Edition, Cambridge University Press, 718 pp.


Coursework and exam



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