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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Meteorology

Undergraduate Course: Atmospheric Physics (METE10002)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryAtmospheric thermodynamics and dynamics are initially reviewed, then the spatial and temporal structure of the atmospheric boundary layer is studied, beginning with a dry convective layer and then considering a cloud-topped layer.
The second half of the course considers the physics of atmospheric aerosols, in particular how aerosols are involved in the formation of clouds, how aerosols and clouds interact with radiation, how aerosols affect climate, and how aerosols act as air pollutants.
Course description Weeks 1-5: The atmospheric boundary layer: turbulence and weather
Weeks 6-10: Cloud and aerosol physics: micro-scales to global climate

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Dynamics and Vector Calculus (PHYS08043) OR Mathematical Methods for Geophysicists (EASC09021)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 16, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 4, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 3, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 73 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 80 %, Coursework 20 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessment Details:
Written Exam: 80%, Course Work: 20 %, Practical Exam: 0%.
The two summative tutorial question sheets are worth 10% each. The exam involves choosing two questions from three.

Assessment Deadlines:
Tutorial 2: 12 noon Monday Week 7. Submit online via Turnitin
Tutorial 4: 12 noon Tuesday Week 10. Submit online via Turnitin
Feedback Students submit four sets of tutorial questions: (1) and (3) are formative; (2) and (4) are summative. Written feedback is provided for all. There is the opportunity to ask questions during or after lectures and tutorials. After the exam (usually early the following semester), students can read marked exam scripts and question the markers on any comments or the marks achieved.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)Atmospheric Physics2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Describe in detail the spatial and temporal variation of typical convective and stable boundary layers in terms of temperature, moisture content and winds, explain the physical processes that give rise to these structures and critically understand the nature of turbulent fluxes of heat and moisture and derive their variation with height, given temporal changes of structure in simple situations
  2. Determine the static and dynamic stability of atmospheric layers , discuss the sources and sinks of turbulent kinetic energy and describe the various sources of atmospheric aerosols
  3. Have a critical understanding of the processes (formation, growth, removal) that lead to observed aerosol size distributions in different environments, describe the physics of homogeneous and heterogeneous nucleation, understand the physics described by Kohler curves, and how aerosols can become cloud condensation nuclei and describe the physics of how cloud droplets grow by condensation and collision
  4. Understand how aerosols interact with solar and terrestrial radiation, understand how aerosols can modify clouds and understand the concept of radiative forcing, in the context of how aerosols affect climate, and be able to compare the anthropogenic climate forcing from aerosols with that from greenhouse gases
  5. Understand how aerosols act as air pollutants, and how air pollution can be modelled and make decisions where information is limited or comes from a range of sources.
Reading List
Please see current reading list for the course at:
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information 2 one-hour lectures per week
Course organiserDr Richard Essery
Course secretaryMr Johan De Klerk
Tel: (0131 6)50 7010
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