AOS 340 Atmospheric Physics II

3 credits
Spring 2017  
MWF 11:00-11:50 am, AOSS 823

Prof. Grant Petty


This course is designed to give junior-level majors in Atmospheric and Oceanic Science a basic grounding in aerosol, cloud, and precipitation physics and atmospheric radiation.


By the end of this course, students will demonstrate familiarity 1) with aerosol properties, sources and sinks, 2) the roles of aerosols in the nucleation of condensed water and ice in the atmosphere, 3) precipitation processes in warm and cold clouds, including the manipulation of particle growth equations, 4) basic radiative transfer processes in the atmosphere and their role in the energy budget of the earth and atmosphere system as well as remote sensing and atmospheric chemistry.


The course is divided into two parts. The first will focus on aerosol, cloud, and precipitation physics, relying on printed handouts. The second will focus on atmospheric radiative transfer theory and applications and will rely on the instructor’s textbook, A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation.>


Students will be expected to have a solid grounding in physics, calculus, and the basic properties and behavior of the atmosphere, including material covered in ATM 330 (Atmospheric Physics I).


The course grade will be based a combination of completed homework, two midterm exams, and a final exam. The course will be graded on a letter grade basis (A, AB, B, BC, C, D, F). A fixed grading scale will be use to reflect the student’s individual mastery of the assigned material.


There are two texts: 1) A draft copy of A First Course in Aerosol, Cloud, and Precipitation Physics, and the second edition of A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation, both by G. Petty. The first will be provided as free photocopied handouts; the second may be purchased from the instructor for $5.


The detailed reading and assignment schedule for the current semester is here.

Week 1Overview; aerosol properties
Week 2Reynolds number, particle fall speeds and size distributions
Week 3Aerosol sources and sinks; nucleation of condensation
Week 4Köhler curves, diffusional growth; collision/coalescence in warm clouds
Week 5Cold cloud types; ice nuclei; cold cloud precipitation processes
Week 61st midterm; atmospheric radiation concepts and definitions
Week 7Radiative properties of materials and surfaces
Week 8Thermal emission
Week 9Atmospheric transmission
Week 10Atmospheric emission
Week 11(cont.)
Week 122nd midterm
Week 13Radiative properties of particles
Week 14Applications to radar
Week 15Applications to satellite remote sensing

Accommodation Policy

Campus policy: “We believe in the right of all students who are enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to full and equal educational opportunity. Disability should not be the basis for exclusion from educational programs. All students are entitled to an accessible, accommodating, and supportive teaching and learning environment. … Students are expected to inform faculty, in a timely manner, of their need for special instructional accommodations.” Students requiring class accommodations due to a learning or physical disability must present documentation from the  McBurney Disability Resource Center ( in the first week of class. Accommodations will be made in consultation with the McBurney Center.

Students who require temporary accommodations due to medical or psychological reasons should acquire documentation from University Health Services. Counseling is available from Counseling Services, University Health Services (