Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry
Tuesday/Thursdays 2-3:15pm    Room: CSS 2416    Credits: 3   Instructor: Profs. Ning Zeng, Russ Dickerson, Ross Salawitch and Dr. Tim Canty. Course web:

Outline and Syllabus

Weekly Progress

Reading Assignments


Books, Grading, Office Hours


Student Projects


Fundamentals of atmospheric physics: light, sound, cloud, lightning, precipitation.  Air parcel thermodynamics and stability; constituent thermodynamics and chemical kinetics. Cloud and aerosol physics and precipitation processes. Troposphere and stratosphere chemistry.

Syllabus    (Corresponding to the chapters of Wallace and Hobbs, thereafter WH; Chapters left blank will not be taught)

1. Introduction  (1 week)   
    Physical properties of the atmosphere
    Atmosphere composition
    mass, optical properties, vertical structure, winds, clouds, precipitation  

2. Atmosphere in the Earth system (1-2 weeks)
    Evolution of the atmosphere: rise of the oxygen, Phenerozoic, glacial cycles, Holocene
    Hydrological cycle
    Carbon cycle
3. Atmospheric Thermodynamics (3-4 weeks)
    Ideal gas law
    The hydrostatic equation
    The first law of thermodynamics
    Adiabatic processes
    Water vapor in air
    Static stability
    The second law of thermodynamics and entropy

4.  Radiative Transfer  (This will be taught in AOSC621 in depth)    (1 lecture)
     Greenhouse effect, 1-layer model
     Earth's Energy balance

5. Atmospheric Chemistry (Lectures by Professors Ross Salawitch, Russ Dickerson) (3 weeks) 

Tues, Sept 23: Russ Dickerson - Chemical Thermodynamics
Thur, Sept 25: Russ Dickerson- Introduction to Atmospheric Chemistry
          will cover material posted at
Tues, Sept 30: Tim Canty - Introduction to Photolysis
Thurs, Oct 2: Ross Salawitch - Introduction to Chemical Kinetics
Tues, Oct 7: Ross - Current Topics in Stratospheric Chemistry
Thurs, Oct 9: Tim - Current Topics in Tropospheric Chemistry

Cloud microphysics (2-3 weeks)
    Nucleation of water vapor condensation
    Microsturctures of warm clouds
    Cloud liquid water content and entrainment
    Growth of cloud droplets in warm clouds
    Microphysics of cold clouds
    Artificial modification of clouds and precipitation
    Thundersotrm electrification
    Cloud and precipitation chemistry

7. Atmospheric Dynamics
Weather Systems

Atmospheric Boundary Layer

Climate (1 week)
    Selected topics on how atmosphere physics/chemistry are important in climate.
       Cloud-climate feedback
       Can geoengineering work to mitigate climate change?

Grading Method
Students will be evaluated based on two exams (50%), homeworks+reading/presentation (30%), and a project (20%).

Atmospheric Science, an Introductory Survey, John M. Wallace and Peter V. Hobbs         (Required)

SHORT COURSE IN CLOUD PHYSICS    ISBN 978-0-7-5063215-7     ROGERS     85.95     64.45  (Optional)

ATMOSPHERIC CHEMISTRY+PHYSICS     978-0-4-7172018-8     SEINFELD     121.95     91.45  (Optional)


        Prof. Ning Zeng
        Office: CSS 2417
        Phone: (301) 405-5377    Fax: (301) 314-9482

Office Hour

Tuesdays 3:15-5 or drop by as long as my office door is open