METEO 535: Radiative Transfer

Course Instructor: Eugene Clothiaux, Class Meeting Times: Tuesday and Thursday, 12:05-1:20 PM, Class Meeting Location: Room 214 Hammond Building

METEO 535: Radiative Transfer (Fall 2016) 

Course Instructor: Eugene Clothiaux (

Office Hours: By email appointment

Teaching Assistant: None 

Class Meeting Times: Tuesday and Thursday, 12:05-1:20 PM

Class Meeting Location: Room 214 Hammond Building

Course Designation in Curriculum: Elective 

Support Services Available: None

Course Designation in Curriculum: Elective course for the master and doctoral degree programs

Brief Course Description from University BulletinThis course pertains to the fundamentals of electromagnetic radiation and its interaction with matter, radiation and climate, atmospheric remote sensing, and observable atmospheric optical phenomena. 

Prerequisites and Concurrent Courses: Mathematics through differential equations is a necessity for this course; a basic understanding of atmospheric thermal physics and classical electromagnetic theory is helpful.

Required Textbooks and Recommended Textbooks: No book is absolutely required for this course. The one closest in content to the course content is Fundamentals of Atmospheric Radiation by Craig Bohren and Eugene Clothiaux as it is hard to ignore the ideas that one has written about in a text book. 

Reserve Materials (EMS Library in the Deike Building):

  • C.F. Bohren Clouds in a Glass of Beer
  • C.F. Bohren What Light Through Yonder Window Breaks?
  • C.F. Bohren Absorption and Scattering of Light by Small Particles
  • R.M. Goody and Y.L. Yung Atmospheric Radiation
  • K.N. Liou An Introduction to Atmospheric Radiation
  • G.W. Petty A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation
  • G.L. Stephens Remote Sensing of the Lower Atmosphere
  • G.E. Thomas and K. Stamnes Radiative Transfer in the Atmosphere and Ocean
  • R.G. Fleagle and J.A. Businger An Introduction to Atmospheric Physics
  • M.L. Salby Fundamentals of Atmospheric Physics
  • J.M. Wallace and P.V. Hobbs Atmospheric Science: An Introductory Survey 

Internet Materials and Links: None

Assistance with Textbooks: Penn State honors and values the socioeconomic diversity of our students. If you require assistance with the costs of textbooks for this course, contact the Office of Student and Family Services (120 Boucke Building, 863-4926, For additional need related to socioeconomic status please visit

Course Objectives/Outcomes: Students will understand and be able to apply concepts in atmospheric radiation.

Course Expectations: All students will come to class prepared to discuss the course material at hand. Students are allowed to work on homework problems together. But, students must write-up their homework solutions on their own and have complete mastery of what it is that they have written. Students must meet the deadlines for the homework assignments. Habitual tardiness in turning in the homework will lead to a loss of points but only after a warning from the instructor. Students are expected to make meaningful contributions to group work. In some cases this may not be so easy if there is an expert in the group, in which case students are expected to probe the expert for deeper understanding of the topic at hand. Exams should be done by oneself without exception. 

Course AttendanceThis course abides by the Penn State Class Attendance policy given at

Course Sick Days Policy: The bottom line is very simple: Please never come to a class when running a fever! Contact the Instructor via email letting the Instructor know that you will miss class because of illness. When you are feeling better and return to class, meet with the Instructor in order to develop a plan of action for making up all missed assignments.

Grading and Examination Policy: By university policy, no assessments worth more than 10% of the grade may be given or due during the last week of class. Please see and for a discussion of exam and alternative assessment practices.

Required Written/Oral Assignments: Written assignments for this course consist of contributions to the “course book” (10% of final course grade) and homework (20% of final course grade). There will be three oral components that contribute to the final course grade: for the first oral assignment (15% of final course grade) students will participate in and deliver a 25- to 30-minute talk on the importance of radiation to climate; the second oral component will be demonstration of mastery of a radiative transfer solver on a computer while describing what is being done functionally (20% of final course grade); the third and final oral component will be an oral presentation summary of the results obtained by application of a radiative transfer solver to some problem (20% of final course grade).  

Exams: There will be one mid-term exam worth 15% of the final course grade. There will be no final exam in the course.

Grading Policy: There will be no grade curving. For the final course grade the instructor may throw out poor exam questions and adjust the percentages that homework, exams and other activities count. This will be done in the same way for all students and only in such a way as to help each student’s overall course grade. No student will receive a grade less than what is based on the percentages given above.

Academic Integrity Statement: Students in this class are expected to write up their homework sets individually and to work the exams on their own. Class members may work on the homework sets in groups, but then each student must write up the answers separately. Students are not to copy homework or exam answers from another person's paper and present them as their own. 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 depending upon the circumstances.  

Students must also abide by the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Academic Integrity Policy, which this course adopts, please see:

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) website provides contact information for every Penn State campus: ( For further information, please visit the Office for Disability Services website (

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 based on the documentation guidelines ( If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Campus Emergencies, Including Weather Delays: Campus emergencies, including weather delays, are announced on Penn State News and communicated to cell phones, email, the Penn State Facebook page, and Twitter via PSUAlert (Sign up at: 

Penn State E-mail Accounts: All official communications from Penn State are sent to students' Penn State e-mail accounts. Be sure to check your Penn State account regularly, or forward your Penn State e-mail to your preferred e-mail account, so you don't miss any important information.

Deferred Grades: If you are prevented from completing this course within the prescribed amount of time, it is possible to have the grade deferred with the concurrence of the instructor. To seek a deferred grade, you must submit a written request (by e-mail or U.S. post) to your instructor describing the reason(s) for the request. It is up to your instructor to determine whether or not you will be permitted to receive a deferred grade. If, for any reason, the course work for the deferred grade is not complete by the assigned time, a grade of "F" will be automatically entered on your transcript.

Military Personnel: Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made. 

Technical Requirements: One must have access to email in order to receive course information. Also, setting up a laptop at home in order to access the METEO LINUX network is probably not a bad idea as well. This way, you can work on METEO 473 projects from the comfort of your home.

Netiquette: The term "Netiquette" refers to the etiquette guidelines for electronic communications, such as e-mail and bulletin board postings. Netiquette covers not only rules to maintain civility in discussions, but also special guidelines unique to the electronic nature of forum messages. Please review some general Netiquette guidelines that should be followed when communicating in this course.