Courses Catalogue

Syllabus of the course: Atmospheric Environment

In this web page we provide the syllabus of the course Atmospheric Environment, 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.

Instructor Ι. Vardavas
ProgramMonday 13:00-15:00 Room 3
Thursday 11:00-13:00 Room 3
Web page
Goal of the courseThis course is designed for third-year students of a 4-year degree. It is an introduction to the Earth’s energy balance, which ultimately determines the planet’s climate. Emphasis is on the physics of water vapour in the lower atmosphere that plays the leading role in climate, on atmospheric photochemistry that controls atmospheric composition, on the greenhouse effect, and on stratospheric ozone depletion. The students are given four sets of exercises to assist them to better understand the key subject matter of the course.
SyllabusThe Earth as a planet:
The Sun and its evolution. Comparison of the Earth with Venus and Mars. The Earth’s orbit and rotation, and the consequent variability of solar radiation incident on the atmosphere.

General properties of the Atmosphere:
Hydrostatic equilibrium, thermodynamics of water vapour, and vertical structure of the atmosphere. Lapse rate and its variations.

The greenhouse effect:
the Earth’s radiation balance. Transfer of solar radiation and terrestrial radiation emission. The role of the infrared bands of trace molecules. The role of clouds and aerosols.

The ozone layer:
The Chapman mechanism for the production of stratospheric ozone. The catalytic cycles of ozone destruction and anthropogenic impacts. Polar stratospheric clouds and ozone holes. The importance of stratospheric ozone in providing a UV screen for biological evolution.

Climate change:
Processes of planetary heating and cooling. Climate change on different timescales. The geological record of climate change. Feedbacks that determine climate change. Global warming and its consequences.
Bibliography“Radiation and Climate”, I.M. Vardavas, and F.W. Taylor, International Series of Monographs on Physics Νο. 138, Oxford University Press, 2007.
“The Atmospheric Environment”, lecture notes in Greek, I.M.Vardavas.

University of Crete - Department of Physics  - Voutes University Campus - GR-70013 Heraklion, Greece
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