Courses Catalogue

Syllabus of the course: Evolution of Planetary Atmospheres

In this web page we provide the syllabus of the course Evolution of Planetary Atmospheres, offered by the Department of Physics.
The list of the courses offered during the current accademic year is available here.
The list of all courses offered by the Department of Physics is available here.

InstructorI. Vardavas
ProgramMonday, 15:00-17:00, Room 4
Friday, 14:00-16:00, Room 4
Web page
Goal of the courseThe course is directed towards students in their 7th semester. It constitutes an introduction to the physics and photochemistry of planetary atmospheres. The emphasis is on the processes that determine the origin and loss of atmospheres. The main aim is the description of the thermodynamics of atmospheres, the physico-chemical processes that lead to a change in atmospheric composition and the consequent climatic change, on timescales of billion years, under an evolving parent star. The students are given a series of thirty or so exercises and questions, which help in the better understanding of the main points of the course.
SyllabusThe Planetary Climate System
Solar radiation, the Earth’s atmosphere, clouds and aerosols, radiative equilibrium and radiative forcing, climate change.

Atmospheric Physics
Atmospheric composition, hydrostatic equilibrium, ideal gases and vapours, triple points of molecules and condensation of atmospheres, vertical temperature structure.

Evolution of the Parent Star
Main Sequence stars (late-type) and their properties, total stellar irradiance at the planetary orbit, solar cycle, spectral flux, evolution of ultraviolet and X-Ray stellar flux, evolution of stellar rotation and luminosity.

Atmospheric Photochemistry
Molecular absorption of stellar radiation, scattering by clouds and aerosols, properties of aerosols, planetary surface reflection, photochemical processes that determine atmospheric composition, surface emission and deposition of molecules, atmospheric diffusion, photolysis, escape to space, chemical reactions of the main constituents.

Planetary Conditions
Simple climate models, planetary properties, radiative-convective models of planetary climate.

Evolution of Planeatry Atmospheres
Origin of solar system, characteristic times of molecular escape to space, sudden atmosphere loss, evolution of the atmospheres of the Earth and Titan, climate evolution of planets, and exoplanets.
BibliographyRadiation and Climate, I.M. Vardavas, and F.W. Taylor, International Series of Monographs on Physics Νο. 138, Oxford University Press, 2007.
Planets and their Atmospheres: Origin and Evolution, J.S. Lewis and R.G. Prinn, Academic Press, New York, 1984.

University of Crete - Department of Physics - P.O Box 2208 - GR-71003 Heraklion, Greece
phone: +30 2810 394300 - fax: +30 2810 394301