ESE 101: Earth’s Atmosphere


Prof. Tapio Schneider
238 Linde+Robinson
Office hours: Fridays 2-3pm


Schneider, T., Physics of Earth’s Climateevolving book draft.

Taylor, F. W., Elementary Climate Physics, Oxford UP (2005)

Hartmann, D. L., Global Physical Climatology, Academic Press (1994).

Marshall, J. and R. A. Plumb, Atmosphere, Ocean, and Climate Dynamics, Academic Press (2008).

Pierrehumbert, R. T., Principles of Planetary Climate, Cambridge UP (2010).

Teaching Assistants

Siraput Jongaramrungruang
121 Linde+Robinson


Tuesdays and Thursdays 1-2:25pm, 162 South Mudd

Mondays 2-3pm, 135 Linde+Robinson (classroom in library)


  • Homework 1 [PDF]

    Due Date: October 12
  • Homework 2 [PDF]

    Due Date: October 19
  • Homework 3 [PDF]

    Due Date: October 26
  • Homework 4 [PDF]

    Due Date: November 9
  • Homework 5 [PDF]

    Due Date: November 16
  • Homework 6 [PDF]

    Due Date: November 30

Grading Policy

  • Homework assignments: 60%
    • Homework assignments will be distributed on Thursdays and are due in class the following Thursday.
    • There will be about 7 assignments; the lowest score will be dropped in the final grade.
    • Collaboration on homework sets is encouraged, but please turn in solutions individually and state on your solutions with whom you collaborated.
  • Weekly tickets: 10%
  • Final exam (oral) or project: 30%

Schedule and Handouts

  • Week



  • 09/26

    Phenomena: Observed features of the atmospheric circulation

    Book draft, chapter 1. Phenomena slides.

  • 10/03

    Radiative energy. Planck's Law, Stefan-Boltzmann Law.

    Book draft, chapter 2. (Optionally: Hartmann, chap. 2, 3. Taylor, chap. 2, 6.). Radiative energy slides

  • 10/10

    Effective temperature. Greenhouse effect. Insolation and its variations with latitude and season.

    Book draft, chapters 2.5-3.3. Hartmann, chap. 3. Insolation slides

  • 10/17

    Earth's orbital variations. Radiation and matter: Interactions of electromagnetic radiation with molecules.

    Book draft, chapter 3.4-3.6. Hartmann, chap. 3.5

  • 10/24

    Infrared absorption, properties of absorbing molecules. Line broadening. Lambert-Beer law. Absorption rates and heating rates.

    Hartmann, chap. 3.5-3.8. Taylor, chap. 6.

    Radiation-matter slides

    Rayleigh scattering notes

  • 10/31

    Radiative transfer: Schwarzschild equation and simple solutions (e.g., cloud decks).

    Pierrehumbert, chaps. 4, 5.

  • 11/07

    Radiative-convective equilibrium. Height of the tropopause. Greenhouse warming. Energy and temperature: TOA and surface energy balance. Bowen ratio and its dependence on climate.

  • 11/14

    Forms of energy and energy transport (eddies and mean circulations) and their relative importance. Winds and angular momentum: Angular momentum balance. theorem.

    Hartmann, chap. 6

    Energy transport slides

    Winds–Overview of historical ideas

    Historical overviews on winds: Lorenz (1983).

  • 11/21

    Hadley circulations in axisymmetric atmospheres.

    Marshall et al., Thermal Wind Balance

    General Circulation Review (read sections 1 and 2.1)

  • 11/28

    Ekman balance and surface winds. Extratropical winds. Water: Water reservoirs, hydrologic cycle overview.

  • 12/05

    Final presentations

Papers for final presentation

Class Feedback

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