MT3AS-Atmospheric Spectroscopy

Module Provider: Meteorology
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Pre-requisites: MT24B Atmospheric Physics PH102 Atomic and Nuclear Physics
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Prof Keith Shine


Type of module:

Summary module description:

Molecular spectroscopy as applied to molecules of atmospheric relevance.


This module aims to provide students with an understanding of molecular spectroscopy, from an environmental physics perspective, to enable a deeper understanding of radiative transfer in the Earth’s atmosphere, with particular relevance to climate change and remote sensing.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the of module students will:

• Understand the main fundamental physical mechanisms that describe how molecules absorb and emit radiation, and how this is determined by the underlying molecular structure;

• Have an overview of the main experimental techniques used to probe the spectroscopic properties of molecules, including an understanding of the limitations of these techniques;

• Develop a quantitative understanding of the spectroscopic properties of important atmospheric gases and how these are represented on molecular databases.

Additional outcomes:

Outline content:

• Fundamentals of molecular spectroscopy – quantum mechanical and semi-classical description of electronic, vibrational and rotational transitions. Dependence of spectra on molecular structure, and the role of degeneracy and Fermi resonance in determining the spectra;

• Introduction to the main experimental techniques for measuring spectroscopic properties of molecules;

• Molecular databases, especially HITRAN, and their use in line-by-line radiative transfer codes;

• Application of understanding to selected atmospheric molecules, including water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, oxygen and heavier halogenated molecules.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Sixteen 50 minute lectures, 2 hours of tutorial/problem solving classes and 2 hours of computing practical classes.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 16
Tutorials 2
Practicals classes and workshops 2
Guided independent study 80
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 70
Report 30

Summative assessment- Examinations:
2 hours.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:
Two assignments, including one based on the computing class.

Formative assessment methods:

Problem sheets handed out in class.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (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.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Re-assessment by examination in August/September

    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: 20 April 2018


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