PHYSICS 7003 - Advanced Atmospheric and Environmental Physics

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2022

A review of radiation and fluid dynamics including the role of waves in planetary atmospheres and ionospheres.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PHYSICS 7003
    Course Advanced Atmospheric and Environmental Physics
    Coordinating Unit School of Physical Sciences
    Term Semester 2
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Andrew MacKinnon

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes

    1. Have an understanding of the basics of atmospheres, including atmospheres in diffusive equilibrium. 

    2. Understand the transfer of radiation through the atmosphere, including general solutions of the Radiative Transfer (Schwartzchild) equation.

    3. Understand the production and loss mechanisms that lead to formation of different atmospheric regions.

    4. Understand radiative properties of single lines and use for remote sensing from space.

    5. Understand the role of atmospheric waves in transporting momentum and how this affects the state of the atmosphere.

    6. Understand ionisation processes in planetary atmosphere and the production and loss mechanisms that influence the formation of different regions of the ionosphere

    7. Understand the propagation of radiowaves through weak plasmas and how this can be used to study the ionosphere.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.


    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.


    Attribute 4: Professionalism and leadership readiness

    Graduates engage in professional behaviour and have the potential to be entrepreneurial and take leadership roles in their chosen occupations or careers and communities.

  • Learning Resources
    Recommended Resources

    Andrews, D. G. (2000): An Introduction to Atmospheric Physics, CUP.

    Andrews, D. G. J. R. Holton and C. B. Leovy (1987): Middle Atmosphere Dynamics, Academic Press.

    Houghton, J. (1977): The Physics of Atmospheres, CUP.

    Holton, J. R. (1980): An Introduction to Dynamic Meteorology, Academic Press.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    * The method of delivery depends on modules selected by students.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    A student enrolled in a 3 unit course, such as this, should expect to spend, on average 12 hours per week on the studies required. This includes both the formal contact time required to the course (e.g., lectures and practicals), as well as non-contact time (e.g., reading and revision).
    Learning Activities Summary

    Introduction to Planetary Atmospheres
    - Atmospheric composition, density and temperature
    - Atmospheric thermodynamics and stability

    Radiation and Radiative Transfer
    - radiative transfer equation and solution
    - heating rates
    - radiative cooling to space approximation
    - formation of the stratosphere
    - heat conduction and the energy budget above 100 km
    - remote sensing of atmospheres from space

    Atmospheric Dynamics and the Role of Waves
    - primitive equations for an atmosphere on a rotating planet
    - Large scale motions for an atmosphere in radiative equilibrium
    - vorticity and circulation
    - the vorticity equation and potential vorticity
    - Periodic motions and linear wave theory and solutions in a spherical atmosphere
    - vertical propagation of planetary waves and their role in the energy budget of the middle atmosphere and the formation of the ozone hole
    - vertical oscillations in a stratified fluid
    - solutions of the primitive equations in a non-rotating, stratified fluid
    - properties of atmospheric gravity waves
    - Reynolds stresses and the transport of momentum by waves
    - Wave-driven circulations of the atmosphere

    Ionospheric Physics
    - The ionosphere, formation and dissipation
    - Propagation of radiowaves in a weak plasma with and without an external magnetic field
    - Characteristic modes and ionospheric sounding
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Written Examination 70%

    Assignments 30%
    Assessment Detail

    Written Examination 70%

    Assignments 30%
    If an extension is not applied for, or not granted then a penalty for late submission will apply. A penalty of 10% of the value of the assignment for each calendar day that is late (i.e. weekends count as 2 days), up to a maximum of 50% of the available marks will be applied. This means that an assignment that is 5 days or more late without an approved extension can only receive a maximum of 50% of the mark.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
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