MT24B-Atmospheric Physics

Module Provider: Meteorology
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Pre-requisites: MT11D Weather and Climate Fundamentals
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr Chris Westbrook


Summary module description:
The fundamental processes in cloud physics and atmospheric radiative transfer.


To provide the student with an understanding of the physical processes that interact with dynamics in weather systems and climate, emphasising clouds and radiative transfer.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of this module, the student should be able to: Describe and explain the formation of cloud particles on aerosol particles, the glaciation process, and the development of precipitation , and have an appreciation of how these processes are represented in numerical weather prediction models. Quantitatively describe the radiation field in the atmosphere and the bulk properties of the atmosphere that determine the interaction with the radiation field, and describe and calculate scattering, absorption and emission of radiation by atmospheric gases and particles. Explain the origin of rainbows and the visual appearance of clouds.

Additional outcomes:
The student will be able to look at the sky with enhanced appreciation.

Outline content:
Lecture contents:
Water vapour and aerosols in the atmosphere; nucleation and growth of cloud droplets, the mechanisms of cloud glaciation, development of precipitation as rain, snow, graupel and hail, and their representation in forecasting models; electrification of storms, orographic enhancement of precipitation and weather modification; definition of basic radiation quantities, solar and thermal infrared emission of radiation, introduction to scattering and absorption, single and multiple scattering, spectroscopy, and absorption and emission of radiation, the radiative transfer equation and heating rates.
Demonstration content:
cloud formation; single vs multiple scattering.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Thirty-five 50 minute lectures. Problem solving exercises are either free standing or incorporated within lectures. Approximately six assignments with problems to illustrate and apply lecture material.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 16 19
Seminars 1
Tutorials 9
Guided independent study 75 80
Total hours by term 100.00 100.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Set exercise 50

Other information on summative assessment:

Coursework will comprise of approximately 4 assignments.

Formative assessment methods:
Nine formative problem classes in Autumn term. One non-assessed problem sheet in the Spring term.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:

    2 hours.

    Requirements for a pass:

    A mark of 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Re-sit examination.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 31 March 2017

    Things to do now