METEO 531 Verlinde FA14

Atmospheric Thermal Physics MWF 2:30-3:20pm 218A Hosler Building Instructor: Hans Verlinde


FALL 2014
Instructor: Johannes Verlinde
OFFICE: 605A Walker Building
PHONE: 863-9711
OFFICE HOURS: 4 – 5 pm Mondays and Thursdays

Class meetings: 218A Hosler Building
2:30 – 3:20 pm Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays
9 make-up classes to be scheduled

Prerequisites and concurrent courses:

Mathematics through differential equations. Basic knowledge of physics (mechanics, electricity and magnetism)

Course textbooks:

Atmospheric Thermodynamics by C.F. Bohren and B. Albrecht

Course description:

Meteo 531 is a 3-credit lecture course that is designed to provide you with a working knowledge of thermodynamics and how it is applied to the atmosphere.

Assessment tools:

  • Required written/oral assignments:
    Roughly bi-weekly homework assignments, due 1 week after assigned - 25%
  • Examination policy:
    Midterm 1: Tuesday, Oct. 7, 6:30 pm - 25%
    Midterm 2: Tuesday, Nov. 4, 6:30 pm - 25%
    Midterm 3: Final Exam slot - 25% (locations to be determined)
  • Grading policy:
    Any grade below 50% earns an F, at 75 – 80% you are in A territory.

Internet materials and links:

Assignments and some course material will be posted on Angel.

Course expectations:   

It is expected that you have a good understanding of mathematics (calculus and differential equations) and physics (mechanics, electricity and magnetism). These are implied prerequisites for the course. Your ability to understand the material in this course depends critically on how well you learned your math and physics.

Each student is expected to keep up with the subject matter and to participate actively and effectively in class. I also expect each student to keep up with the material on his/her own. This includes reviewing lecture notes, reading assigned material, and reading material from books in the library. It is good to think of me as a guide through the relevant material, but it is you who must do all the hard work that goes along with the learning process. Good study habits include rewriting your notes on a daily basis in readable and understandable English, with complete mathematical derivations, using both your class notes and the text. If, in the rewriting of your notes, you find something you don’t understand, come and ask. This will result in a net gain in time – you will find that you will spend significant less time on homework!

Course policies:

This course abides by the Penn State Class Attendance Policy 42-27:, Attendance Policy E-11:, and Conflict Exam Policy 44-35:  Please also see Illness Verification Policy:, and Religious Observance Policy:  Students who miss class for legitimate reasons will be given a reasonable opportunity to make up missed work, including exams and quizzes provided that I am informed on or prior to the due date.  Students are not required to secure the signature of medical personnel in the case of illness or injury and should use their best judgment on whether they are well enough to attend class or not; the University Health Center will not provide medical verification for minor illnesses or injuries. Other legitimate reasons for missing class include religious observance, family emergencies, and regularly scheduled university-approved curricular or extracurricular activities. Students who encounter serious family, health, or personal situations that result in extended absences should contact the Office of Student and Family Services for help:  Whenever possible, students participating in University-approved activities should submit to the instructor a Class Absence Form available from the Registrar's Office:, at least one week prior to the activity. 

Academic integrity statement:

Students in this class are expected to write up their problem sets individually, to work the exams on their own, and to write their papers in their own words using proper citations.  Class members may work on the problem sets in groups, but then each student must write up the answers separately.  Students are not to copy problem or exam answers from another person's paper and present them as their own; students may not plagiarize text from papers or websites written by others.  Students who present other people's work as their own will receive at least a 0 on the assignment and may well receive an F or XF in the course.  Please see: Earth and Mineral Sciences Academic Integrity Policy:, which this course adopts.

Accommodations for students with disabilities:

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Office for Disability Services (ODS) Web site provides contact information for every Penn State campus: For further information, please visit the Office for Disability Services Web site:
In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation: If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter.

Other statements as applicable:

Residence Instruction: Campus emergencies, including weather delays, are announced on Penn State News: http:/ and communicated to cellphones, email, the Penn State Facebook page, and Twitter via PSUAlert (Sign up at:

Fall 2014

Reserve List at the EMS Library: (Call Number, Author, Title)

  • QC880.4 T5B63 1998 (Bohren and Albrecht) Atmospheric Thermodynamics
  • QC880.4.T5P48 2008 (Petty) A First Course in Atmospheric Thermodynamics
  • QD453.3.A74 2006 (Atkins) Physical Chemistry
  • QC861.3.W35 2006 (Wallace and Hobbs) Atmospheric Science (Chpt. 3)
  • QC880.4 T5C87 1999 (Curry and Webster) Thermodynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans
  • QC880.4 T5I74 1981 (Iribarne and Godson) Atmospheric Thermodynamics
  • QC311 S42 1975 (Sears and Salinger) Thermodynamics, Kinetic Theory And Statistical Mechanics


    • Mechanical systems and internal energy
    • Translational, rotational, vibrational and electronic energies (molecular physics)
    • The First Law (Energy Conservation)
    • Gas laws, kinetic theory, mixtures of gases
    • Collision interactions and energy transformations
    • Heat capacities of gases, solids and liquids
    • Enthalpy
    • Applications: Dry adiabatic processes, radiative emission and chemical reaction rate
    • Spontaneous change, cyclic processes
    • Entropy
    • Free energies and applications
    • Phase transformations, moisture variables
    • Phase diagrams, moist conserved variables
    • Thermodynamic diagrams (skew-T)
    • Buoyancy and parcel stability
    • Cloud processes: cloud formation
    • Conditional instability
    • Buoyancy oscillations