Atmospheric Thermodynamics

METEO 431 Syllabus

METEO 431: Atmospheric Thermodynamics (Spring 2018)

Instructor: Eugene Clothiaux, Email:, Office Hours:
Th 09:30 - 11:00 PM (Room 511 Walker)
Su 01:00 - 03:00 PM (Room 511 Walker)

Teaching Assistant: Wendall Li, Email:, Office Hours:
M 04:30-05:30 PM (Room 511 Walker)
Tu 09:30-10:30 AM (Room 601 Walker)
Tu 01:30-02:30 PM (Room 601 Walker)

Class Meeting Times and Locations:
Monday, Wednesday and Friday 02:30-3:20 PM; Room 103 Walker

Course Designation in Curriculum: Course Required for the Major
Support Services Available: None

Brief Course Description from University Bulletin:
From Browse Course Catalog on LionPath:
“Classical thermodynamics applied to both the dry and the moist atmosphere.”

Prerequisites and Concurrent Courses:
METEO 101/201 and PHYS 212 are prerequisites for this course while METEO 300 must at least be concurrent with this course. Mathematics through differential equations is a necessity for this course.
Students who do not meet these prerequisites may be dis-enrolled during the first 10-day free add-drop period: If you have not completed the listed prerequisites, promptly consult with the instructor about whether or not you should be in this class. Students who add the course after being disenrolled according to this policy are in violation of Item 15 on the Student Code of Conduct:

Required Textbooks and Recommended Textbooks:
The course closely follows the content in: Atmospheric Thermodynamics by Craig Bohren and Bruce Albrecht

This is a fantastic book on this topic, but it is now very expensive.

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 Care and Advocacy (120 Boucke Building, 863-4926, For additional need related to socioeconomic status please visit

Course Objectives/Outcomes:
Meteorology Courses Objectives and Outcomes printable document contains a link to the Course objectives and outcomes listed below.

Course Objectives:

  1. Students can demonstrate an ability to apply thermodynamic principles quantitatively to atmospheric problems (relate to program objectives 1 and 3)
  2. Students can demonstrate the use of thermodynamics equations in determining the thermal structure of basic atmospheric phenomena (relate to program objectives 2)

Course Outcomes:

  1. Students can demonstrate knowledge of how thermal energy and the first law of thermodynamics are applied to describe atmospheric thermal properties and structure (relate to program outcomes b)
  2. Students can demonstrate knowledge of how entropy and the second law of thermodynamics are applied to basic thermal problems (relate to program outcome b)
  3. Students can demonstrate knowledge of the process of phase change in atmospheric phenomena (relate to program outcomes b and c)
  4. Students can demonstrate an ability to analyze atmospheric soundings using a thermodynamic diagram (relate to program outcomes a, b, c, and d)

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. Tardiness turning in the homework will lead to a loss of points.

Course Policies: This course abides by the Penn State 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. 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, military service, family emergencies, regularly scheduled university-approved curricular or extracurricular activities, and post-graduate, career-related interviews when there is no opportunity for students to re-schedule these opportunities (such as employment and graduate school final interviews). Students who encounter serious family,
health, or personal situations that result in extended absences should contact the Office of the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs (AVPSA) and Student Care and Advocacy 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.

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:

For a summary of General and Final Examination Policies 44-10 and 44-20 and alternative assessment practices, please see Examination Policy Summary: and General and Final Exam Policies:

Required Written Assignments:
The only written assignments for this course will be homework assignments. The homework assignments must be completed according to course expectations listed above. Homework assignments will compose 25% of the final course grade.

Examination Policy:
There will be two non-final exams, each worth 25% of the final course grade, and a final exam worth 25% of the final course grade. The final exam will be given during the official exam slot scheduled for this course. The non-final exams will be given at appropriate times during the semester at a time agreed upon by all.

Grading Policy:
There will be no grade curving and the grading scale is as follows: A: 92.5-100.0; A-:90.0-92.5; B+: 87.5-90.0; B: 82.5-87.5; B-:80.0-82.5; C+: 77.5-80.0: C: 70.0-77.5; D: 50.0-70.0; F: < 50.0. For the final course grade the instructor may throw out poor exam questions, adjust the percentages that homework and exams count, and/or adjust the grading scale above. 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 homework (25%), non-final exams (50%) and final exam (25%) percentages and using the grading scale 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. Please see: Earth and Mineral Sciences

Academic Integrity Policy:, which this course adopts. To learn more, see Penn State's "Plagiarism Tutorial for Students."

Course Copyright:
All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor’s express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws.

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 Student Disability Resources (SDR) website provides contact information for every Penn State campus: ( For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources 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: 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: http:/ and communicated to cellphones, email, the Penn State Facebook page, and Twitter via PSUAlert (Sign up at:

Reporting Bias-Motivated Incidents
Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated ( and can be reported through Educational Equity via the Report Bias webpage.

Counseling and Psychological Services
Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional wellbeing. The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings. These services are
provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation. Services include the following:

Counseling and Psychological Services at University Park (CAPS): 814-863-0395 Counseling and Psychological Services at Commonwealth Campuses Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400 Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741

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 (see 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, pencils and paper. From time to time one may need to make use of a computer to perform a calculation or to put together a presentation in some electronic format.

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.

Disruptive Behavior
Behavior that disrupts normal classroom activities will not be tolerated, in accordance with Items 9 and 14 in the Student Code of Conduct.

In the case of an emergency, we will follow the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Critical Incident Plan ( In the event of an evacuation, we will follow posted evacuation routes and gather at the Designated Meeting Site. Evacuation routes for all EMS buildings are available at For more information regarding actions to take during particular emergencies, please see the Penn State Emergency Action Guides.

Mandated Reporting Statement
Penn State’s policies require me, as a faculty member, to share information about incidents of sex-based discrimination and harassment (discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and retaliation) with Penn State’s Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinators, regardless of whether the incidents are stated to me in person or shared by students as part of their coursework. For more information regarding the University's policies and procedures for responding to reports of sexual or gender-based harassment or misconduct, please visit Penn State's Office of Sexual Misconduct and Prevention & Response website.

Additionally, I am required to make a report on any reasonable suspicion of child abuse in accordance with the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law.

Diversity, Inclusion, and Respect
Penn State is “committed to creating an educational environment which is free from intolerance directed toward individuals or groups and strives to create and maintain an environment that fosters respect for others” as stated in Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance. All members of this class are expected to contribute to a respectful, welcoming and inclusive environment and to interact with civility. For additional information, see:

  • Penn State Affirmative Action non-discrimination statement
  • Policy AD 85 Sexual and gender-based harassment and misconduct, Title IX
  • Policy AD91 Discrimination and Harassment, and Related inappropriate Conduct
  • Penn State Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Excellence
  • Penn State Values
  • Penn State Principles
  • All In at Penn State: A Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

Course Outline

  1. Introduction to Course and Types of Energy
    A. “thermo”, “dynamics”, and “thermodynamics”
    [BA: Introductory Material; Sect. 1.1]
    B. What exactly is heat? A demonstration of the flavor of this course starting with Newton’s Laws
    C. Different Forms of Energy
    D. Conservation of Energy
    [BA: Sect. 1.2]
    E. Conservation of Energy of a System of Point Masses
    [BA: Sect. 1.3; Sect. 1.4; Sect. 1.5]
  2. The First Law of Thermodynamics
    A. Working and Heating
    [Sect. 1.6]
    B. Types of Systems
    [BA: Sect. 1.7]
    C. Internal Energy and the First Law
    [BA: Sect. 1.8]
  3. Gases
    A. Gas Pressure, Absolute Temperature and the Ideal Gas Law
    [BA: Sect. 2.1]
    B. Thermodynamic Variables
    C. Pressure versus Height (Continuum Approach)
    D. Pressure versus Height (Molecular Approach)
  4. Heat Capacities and Enthalpy
    A. Thermodynamic Functions
    B. Specific Heats
    C. Enthalpy
  5. The Second Law
    A. Spontaneous Change
    B. Cyclic Processes
    C. Entropy
  6. Multiphase Systems (or Water and Its Transformations)
    A. Phase Transformations
    B. Free Energy
    C. Phase Diagrams
  7. Atmospheric Applications
    A. Thermodynamic Diagrams
    B. Processes
    C. Soundings and Stability