INSTRUCTOR: Hans Verlinde, CLASS MEETINGS: 101 Walker Bldg, 9:05 – 9:55 AM Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays


Physics and Chemistry of Clouds

Spring 2017

INSTRUCTOR: Hans Verlinde

OFFICE: 605A Walker Bldg.

OFFICE HOURS: (Open 1 to 2 pm Monday; 5 to 6 pm Tuesday)

PHONE: (814) 863-9711


CLASS MEETINGS: 101 Walker Bldg. 9:05 – 9:55 AM   Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays 

WEB: Canvas

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This 3-credit lecture course is designed to complement your other meteorology courses by showing you how basic scientific principles can be used to understand a variety of atmospheric phenomena, especially those involving clouds.  

PREREQUISITES: Meteo 300 and Meteo 431 

TEXT: “Physics and Chemistry of Clouds” by Lamb and Verlinde 

Make sure you look at the errata in Canvas. For those who got one of the pirate copies of the book (from amazon) with the wrong index, there also is a copy of the correct index.                         

GRADING: Each student’s progress toward understanding the course material will be assessed by a variety of tests and assignments, according to the weightings given below:

  1. Weekly quizzes 25 %
  2. Exam: Tue. Feb. 24 6:30 pm 25 %
  3. Exam: Tue. April 7 6:30 pm 25 %
  4. Final: Date available on eLion 25 %

            The passing grade for this course is 50%.

EXAM POLICY: I give my exams in the evening to allow all students to take the time necessary to complete the exam, unless students are opposed. Except for documented illness or emergencies, make-up exams will be conducted only for students who make arrangements with me prior to the scheduled exam time. 


  1. Students can demonstrate familiarity with microphysical principles and how they determine the structures of the atmosphere and clouds.
  2. Students can demonstrate the ability to apply principles of cloud microphysics and atmospheric chemistry to the solution of atmospheric problems.


  1. Students can demonstrate knowledge of cloud properties.
  2. Students can demonstrate knowledge of the thermodynamic drivers of cloud development and evolution.
  3. Students can demonstrate knowledge of basic atmospheric chemistry and its role in atmospheric phenomena. 

TEACHING ASSISTANT: Zhiyuan Jiang, Office: 603 Walker Bldg.

EXPECTATIONS AND POLICIES: As a major in Meteorology you are expected to have a reasonable understanding of mathematics (through differential equations), physics (mechanics, electricity and magnetism) and thermodynamics. Chemical principles will be reviewed as needed. Students with weak backgrounds in the fundamental disciplines are advised to postpone enrollment in this course. 

Each student is expected to keep up with the subject matter and to participate actively and effectively in class.  Homework will be assigned approximately weekly. Expect the home work assignments to be challenging applications of the theory you learned in class. This is a very important way for you to discover whether you understand the material. Collaboration with classmates can be an effective way of learning, especially when you are the one teaching others.  In any case, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure that you understand the material. You may verify your completed work or work in progress with the TA. I will collect homework to verify that you’ve done it, but not grade it. Instead, I will test your understanding of the homework material by a weekly quiz. Exams serve to test not only your general knowledge of the subject matter, but also your ability to apply that knowledge to solving new problems. 

Outside assignments may be challenging, but they nevertheless constitute only one way to learn. Reading from the required text is essential. Experience also suggests that rewriting your class notes within a day or so of each lecture leads to significantly enhanced learning of complex material. Remember that what you get out of any endeavor is proportionate to the effort you put in. Work hard and enjoy learning about clouds and the atmosphere in which they form. 

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 disability services office at University Park, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation based on the documentation guidelines ( If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, the office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with me and discuss the accommodations as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

WEATHER DELAYS: 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 PSUTXT (to sign up, please see 

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: Reminder about academic integrity: Cheating and plagiarism are serious offenses that may be grounds for failing an assignment, an exam, or even the course. Collaboration with classmates can be an effective way of learning, especially when you are the one teaching the others. In any case, the final work must be your own, a clear expression of your level of understanding. Please review the College policies related to academic integrity on the web, 

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.

DISCLAIMER STATEMENT Please note that the specifics of this Course Syllabus can be changed at any time, and you will be responsible for abiding by any such changes. Changes will be posted to the course Canvas account. 


    • Overview of Cloud Microstructure
    • Cloud Types and Properties
    • Atmospheric Constituents
    • Principles of Interaction
    • Formation of New Substances
    • Thermodynamic Drivers
    • Cloud Macrophysics
    • Supersaturation Development
    • Phase Nucleation
    • Growth of Cloud Particles
    • Precipitation

SUPPLEMENTARY READINGS: (Available on Reserve in EMS Library): 


  • QC921.5.R63 1988, Rogers and Yau, A Short Course in Cloud Physics
  • QC921.5 F55 1962, Fletcher, The Physics of Rainclouds
  • TD174.H55 1997, Hill, Understanding Environmental Pollution
  • QC861.2 H63 2000, Hobbs (I), Basic Physical Chemistry for the Atmospheric Sciences
  • QC879.6 H62 2000, Hobbs (II), Introduction to Atmospheric Chemistry
  • QC921.5 M3 1971, Mason, The Physics of Clouds
  • QC921.5 P78 1997, Pruppacher and Klett, Microphysics of Clouds and Precipitation
  • TD883.T85 1997, Turco, Earth under Siege
  • QC882.T93 1977, Twomey, Atmospheric Aerosols
  • QC861.3.W35 2006, Wallace and Hobbs, Atmospheric Science