Atmospheric Research

EES 306

The atmosphere enables life as we know it to exist on Earth. However, the atmosphere has undergone enormous change in recent decades due to human activity that is changing the Earth’s climate and threatens public and ecological health. In this course, students will get a hands-on introduction to cutting-edge atmospheric research via involvement in ongoing projects in the EES department. The course will include reading and presenting research literature that introduces the research projects, learning and applying experimental techniques for analysis of atmospheric composition, and working with models of atmospheric physics and chemistry to help interpret the measurements. Students will write a brief paper on the obtained results and their interpretation. This course fulfills a closure requirement for Environmental Science and Environmental Studies majors.

Prerequisites: CHM 131 or equivalent, MTH 141-142 or equivalent, Some prior programming experience is recommended but not required.

Last Offered: Fall 2021 PDFSyllabus

Next Offering: Fall 2021

Credits: 4.0

Physics of Climate

EES 236/436

A broad and quantitative overview of the basic features of Earth’s climate system and the underlying physical processes. Topics include the global energy balance, atmospheric thermodynamics, radiative transfer, cloud microphysics, atmospheric dynamics, general circulation, weather systems, surface processes, ocean circulation, and climate variability and forecasting. Students will understand what drives present-day temperature, precipitation, and wind patterns, as well as major modes of natural climate variability including the El Niño-Southern Oscillation phenomenon and Ice Age cycles, and extreme weather. We will learn how the rise of human civilization has influenced the climate system, and how this legacy and our future actions can influence climate in the coming century.

Prerequisites: PHY 121 or equivalent

Last Offered: Fall 2022 PDFSyllabus

Next Offering: Fall 2023

Credits: 4.0

Fundamentals of Atmospheric Modeling

EES 234/434

Global atmospheric models are critical research and policy tools used to understand and predict the weather, climate change, and air pollution. This course provides an applied introduction to the physics, chemistry, and numerical methods underlying simulations of the spatial and temporal evolution of mass, energy, and momentum in planetary atmospheres. Topics include: finite-differencing the equations of atmospheric dynamics, radiative transfer models, numerical methods for solving systems of chemical ordinary differential equations, parameterization of small-scale processes, surface exchanges, inverse modeling, and model evaluation techniques. Assignments focus on the implementation and application of simple models by students; no prior experience with scientific programming will be assumed. Students will also gain experience using state-of-the-science models of atmospheric chemistry and/or climate in a final project of their choosing.

Prerequisites: EES 105 or EES 218 or equivalent, MTH 165 or equivalent, CHM 131-132 or equivalent, PHY 121 or equivalent, or permission of instructor, PHY 255 or equivalent recommended but not required

Last Offered: Spring 2021 PDFSyllabus

Next Offering: Spring 2024

Credits: 4.0

Introduction to Atmospheric Chemistry

EES 218/418

The atmosphere helps to maintain habitable temperatures on our planet's surface, shields life from destructive cosmic and ultraviolet radiation and contains gases such as oxygen and carbon dioxide, which are essential for life. In this course we will work toward an understanding of several important questions. What is in the Earth's atmosphere? What are the sources and sinks of the most important gases in the atmosphere? How does the atmosphere affect the Earth's surface climate? What is the role of photochemistry in atmospheric composition? How does the atmosphere interact with the land and oceans? How has human activity affected the atmosphere?

Prerequisites: EES 101 or 103 or 105, CHM 131 or equivalent, MTH 141-142 or equivalent, CHM 132 or equivalent recommended but not required

Last Offered: Spring 2023 PDFSyllabus

Next Offering: Probably Spring 2025

Credits: 4.0