Knowledge Expectations for METR 3213
Physical Meteorology I: Thermodynamics
Purpose: This document describes the principal concepts, technical skills, and fundamental
understanding that all students are expected to possess upon completing METR 3213, Physical
Meteorology I: Thermodynamics. Individual instructors may deviate somewhat from the specific topics
and order listed here.
Pre-requisites: Grade of C or better in MATH 2443, PHYS 2524, METR 2024 (or 2413).
Students should have a basic understanding of functions of several variables, partial derivatives,
differentials of multivariate functions, line and surface integrals, the basics of state variables
such as temperature, pressure, density, and volume, and basic energy concepts prior to starting
Goal of the Course: This course introduces the physical processes associated with atmospheric
composition, basic radiation and energy concepts, the equation of state, the zeroth, first, and
second law of thermodynamics, the thermodynamics of dry and moist atmospheres, thermodynamic
diagrams, statics, and atmospheric stability.
Topical Knowledge Expectations
I. Basic Radiation Principles.
• Understand the basic physical concepts of radiative transfer of energy, including radiation
characteristics, quantities and units.
• Understand the concepts of emission, absorption, and scattering of radiation.
• For solar (short-wave) radiation, understand the definition of the albedo and know typical
values for different surfaces. Understand the dominant causes of absorption and scattering of
solar radiation in the atmosphere.
• For long-wave radiation in the atmosphere, understand the important constituents (greenhouse
gases) and processes affecting emission and absorption.
• Be familiar and work problems using Wien’s Law, Stefan Boltzmann’s Law, and the Inverse Square
II. Atmospheric composition
• Be able to describe the vertical structure of the atmosphere in terms of its constituents, as
well as the behavior of these constituents in the presence of solar and terrestrial radiation.
• Be able to describe the vertical structure of the atmosphere in terms of temperature, pressure,
density, and moisture content.
III. Fundamental Physical Concepts (integrated with IV. Fundamental Physical Laws)
• Define, understand, and apply the concepts of kinetic energy, potential energy, and internal
• Define and understand the concept of geopotential.
• Define, understand, and apply the concepts of work and heat.
• Understand the concepts of sensible heat, specific heat, and latent heat.
• Define and understand the concept of absolute zero.
• Understand the concepts of heat transfer via conduction, convection, and radiation.
• Understand the concepts of thermal, mechanical and chemical equilibrium.