Meteorology 341 - Fall 2022
Atmospheric Physics I
Instructor: Prof. Xiaoqing Wu
firstname.lastname@example.org, 3011 Agronomy, 294-9872 [tel]
Meeting time and place: MWF 8:50am-9:40am, G0541 Agronomy Hall
Office hours: MWF 10am - 11am
This course will cover atmospheric thermodynamics and
hydrostatics, with emphasis on understanding the basic concepts and
physical processes. Cloud physics will be briefly introduced in
the last week of the semester and further discussion will be continued
in Mteor 342. Building a solid foundation in physical principles and
developing self-learning and thinking skills are the goals.
Students are expected to come to class prepared to participate actively
in the learning process. As in any professional organization, absences
should be justified and promptness is standard procedure. Your homework
should be done with pride and submitted on time. The policy for late
assignments is stated below.
- Salby, M., 2012: Physics of the Atmosphere and Climate. Cambridge University Press.
- Roger, R.R., and M.K. Yau, 1989: A Short Course in Cloud Physics. Third Edition, Pergamon Press.
- Petty, G.W., 2008: A First Course in Atmospheric Thermodynamics. Sundog Publishing, 352pp.
- Iribarne, J.V., and W.L. Godson, 1981: Atmospheric Thermodynamics. Second Edition, Reidel Publishing.
- Wallace, J., and P. Hobbs, 1977: Atmospheric Science. Academic Press.
- I will assign homework for each chapter.
- Homework will be due one week after it is assigned.
- Each person must hand in his or her own solutions although you are encouraged to interact with your
classmates to understand the basis of each problem.
- Homework that is late will receive 1/2 credit, no credit after a week.
There will be a midterm exam plus a comprehensive final.
Approximate dates are Week 7 and Final Week,
but are subject to change.
- Homeworks: 20%; Midterm Exam: 35%; Final: 45%
The course grade is determined in part by how students do with respect to each
other and how the class as a whole has done. This gives a starting
point for assessing what each student has demonstrated with regard to
his/her understanding of the material.
2. Basic Concepts of Thermodynamics
- Expansion Work
- Heat Transfer
- State Variables
- Equation of State for Ideal Gases/Dry Air
3. The First law
- Internal Energy
- Heat Capacity
- Adiabatic Processes/Potential Temperature
- Diabatic Processes
4. The Second law
- Reversible and Irreversible Processes
- Maxwell Relations
- Thermodynamic Equilibrium
- Relationship of Entropy to Potential Temperature
5. Heterogeneous Systems
- Chemical Equilibrium
- Fundamental Relations and Degrees of Freedom
- Thermodynamic Characteristics of Water
- Equilibrium Phase Transition
- Latent Heat
- Clausius-Clapeyron Equation
6. Moist Air
- Equation of State for Water Vapor
- Implications for the Distribution of Water Vapor
- State Variables for the Two-Component System
- Thermodynamic Behavior Accompanying Vertical Motion
- The Pseudo-Adiabatic Chart
7. Hydrostatic Equilibrium
- Geopotential Height
- Hydrostatic Balance
- Stratification and its Lagrangian Interpretation
8. Hydrostatic Stability
- Stability Categories
- Implications for Vertical Motion
- Finite Displacements
9. Cloud Physics
- Observed Properties of Clouds
- Formation of Cloud Drops
- The Physics of Condensation
Students Needing Disability Accommodation
Iowa State University is committed to assuring that all educational activities are free from discrimination and harassment based on disability status. All students requesting accommodations are required to meet with staff in Student Disability Resources (SDR) to establish eligibility. A Student Academic Accommodation Request (SAAR) form will be provided to eligible students. The provision of reasonable accommodations in this course will be arranged after timely delivery of the SAAR form to the instructor. Students are encouraged to deliver completed SAAR forms as early in the semester as possible. SDR, a unit in the Dean of Students Office, is located in room 1076, Student Services Building or online at www.dso.iastate.edu/dr/. Contact SDR by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 515-294-7220 for additional information.
If you are not feeling well, you should stay home and focus on your health. Should you
miss class due to illness, it is your responsibility to work with your instructor to arrange
for accommodations and to make up coursework, as consistent with the instructor’s
You may choose to wear a face mask and/or receive the COVID-19 vaccine and boosters,
as well as other vaccines such as influenza, but those options are not required. Thielen
Student Health Center will continue to provide COVID-19 vaccinations free-of-charge to
students. The university will continue to offer free masks and COVID-19 test kits during
the fall 2022 semester. Other wellbeing resources for students are available at:
Public health information for the campus community continues to be available on Iowa
State’s public health website. All public health questions should be directed to