ESE 101: Earth’s Atmosphere


Prof. Tapio Schneider
CliMA House (516 S. Catalina Ave.)
Office hours: Fridays 4-5pm


Ticket Questions/Answers

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

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

Petty, G., A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation, 2nd Ed., Sundog Publishing (2006). ~pdf here~

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

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

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

Teaching Assistants

Katrina Hui
226 Linde+Robinson
Office hours: Tuesdays 4-6pm

Clare Singer
CliMA House (516 S. Catalina Ave.)
Office hours: Wednesdays 2-4pm, L+R classroom


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

Mondays 7-8pm, 162 South Mudd


  • Homework 1 [PDF]

    Due Date: October 17
    Solution 1 [PDF]
  • Homework 2 [PDF]

    Due Date: October 24
    Solution 2 [PDF]
  • Homework 3 [PDF]

    Due Date: October 31
    Solution 3 [PDF]
  • Homework 4 [PDF]

    Due Date: November 7
    Solution 4 [PDF]
  • Homework 5 [PDF]

    Due Date: November 14
    Solution 5 [PDF]
  • Homework 6 [PDF]

    Due Date: November 21
    Solution 6 [PDF]

Grading Policy

  • Homework assignments: 60%
    • Homework assignments will be distributed on Thursdays and are due in class the following Thursday.
    • There will be 6 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.
    • Late homework is not accepted. Please email the TAs before the homework is due if you need to request an extension.
    • Homework is due in class or turned in to the TAs before 5pm. Electronic submissions are great (save trees!) but please submit assignments as pdfs saved as lastname_hwX.pdf.
  • Weekly tickets: 10%
    • Short quiz questions based on the readings given on Tuesdays at the start of class.
  • Final exam (oral) or project: 30%

Schedule and Handouts

  • Week



  • 10/03

    Phenomena: Observed features of the atmospheric circulation


    Book draft, chapter 1.


    Phenomena slides.

  • 10/08

    Tuesday: Phenomena (2). Thursday: Radiative energy.

    Radiative energy: Planck’s Law, Stefan-Boltzmann Law. Kichhoff’s Law. Effective temperature.


    Book draft, chapter 2.


    Radiative energy slides


    Hartmann, chap. 2, 3.

    Taylor, chap. 2, 6.

    Blackbody radiation/Planck function derivation (Feynman Lectures)

  • 10/15

    Tuesday: Greenhouse effect (1). Thursday: Insolation and its variations with latitude and season.


    Book draft, chapters 2 and 3.

    Hartmann, chap. 3.8.


    Insolation slides.


    Taylor, chap. 6.8

    Interactive greenhouse effect tools:

    2-layer model  and  n-layer model

  • 10/22

    Tuesday: Milankovich cycles. Thursday: Radiation and matter (1)

    Radiation and matter: Interactions of electromagnetic radiation with molecules. Infrared absorption, properties of absorbing molecules. Line broadening.


    Hartmann, chap. 3.1-3.6.


    Radiation-matter slides

    Albedo slides


    Taylor, chap. 6.7

  • 10/29

    Tuesday: Radiation and matter (2). Thursday: Radiative transfer.

    Radiation and matter (2): Lambert-Beer law. Absorption rates and heating rates.

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


    Rayleigh scattering notes

    Hartmann, chap. 3.7.

    Petty, chap. 12.


    Taylor, chap. 6.1-6.6

    Petty, chaps. 7-8.

  • 11/05

    Tuesday: Greenhouse effect (2). Thursday: Energy and temperature.

    Greenhouse effect (2): Radiative-convective equilibrium. Height of the tropopause. Greenhouse warming.

    Energy and temperature: TOA and surface energy balance. Bowen ratio and its dependence on climate.


    Hartmann, chaps. 2.8-2.9, 3.10-3.12, and 4.


    Radiative-convective equilibrium slides

    TOA and surface energy budgets


  • 11/12

    Tuesday: Energy transport. Thursday: Winds and Angular momentum.

    Energy transport: Forms of energy and energy transport (eddies and mean circulations) and their relative importance.

    Winds and angular momentum: Surface winds. Angular momentum balance. Hide’s theorem. Hadley circulation.


    Hartmann, chap. 6.

    Historical overviews on winds: Lorenz (1983).


    Energy transport slides

    Winds–Overview of historical ideas


    Marshall & Plumb, chap. 5, 8

  • 11/19

    Atmospheric general circulation

    Hadley circulations in axisymmetric atmospheres. Ekman balance and surface winds. Extratropical winds.


    Hartmann, chap. 6.

    Marshall et al., Thermal Wind Balance

    General Circulation Review (read sections 1 and 2.1)


    Angular momentum balance slides

    Lenka’s slides on angular momentum


    Marshall & Plumb, chap. 7, 8

  • 11/26

    No class - Thanksgiving

  • 12/03

    Tuesday: Water. Thursday: Final Presentations

    Water: Water reservoirs, hydrologic cycle overview.


    Hartmann, chap. 5.


    Hydrologic cycle overview slides

  • 12/12

    Thursday: Final presentations

Papers for final presentation

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