ATM OCN 640: Class information and policies

Instructor: Prof. Grant W Petty
Office: AOSS 1329
Phone: 263-3265

Class e-mail list (reaches everyone in class):


The aim of this introductory course is exposure to the fundamental principles of atmospheric radiation and their applications at a level appropriate to a non-specialist.  Breadth will therefore be emphasized over depth.  Physical insight and meteorological context will be emphasized over advanced mathematical and computational methods.  The additional depth required by future specialists in atmospheric radiation and remote sensing is offered by the follow-on course, AOS 740.


We will be using my textbook, A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation.   I will provide copies to ATM OCN 640 students at a sharply discounted price, so don’t purchase it through another source unless you can get it for almost free!


Although my textbook is intended to be self-contained and complete with respect to this introductory course, some students might want to know what else is out there.  Here are the some other introductory textbooks on atmospheric radiation:

Each of the above books has its own unique strengths.  If you are serious about radiation and/or remote sensing as a future specialty, you will probably want to have many or most of these on your bookshelf soon or later.


Various documents, data sets, and programs required for this course can be found on the main course web page.


There will be one midterm and one final exam, each worth 20% (the final will actually play the role of a second midterm; i.e., it will focus primarily on material covered during the second half of the semester).

There will also be two substantial class projects, each worth 25%.  

Many students will find the programming aspect of these projects to be a greater challenge than the conceptual part, especially if they have not previously done much programming.  I encourage you to get an early start refreshing your knowledge of programming, spending time especially with Python if you have not already used it.

Your homework is to work through ALL the problems in the textbook as you encounter them in the reading assignments, except where noted on the schedule page.  These problems are mostly very straightforward and are designed mainly to reinforce your understanding of the material that immediately precedes them.  

I will collect solutions at roughly weekly intervals rather than leaving them strictly for self-study. However, I will only spot check them rather than grading them thoroughly; you will use the solutions I provide for most problems to self-check your solutions in detail. On-time completion of the homework with good-faith attempts of most problems is worth the remaining 10% of the course grade. 

CLASS TIME:  As time permits, I try to pursue an interactive approach to teaching.  I will not necessarily give straight lectures on all of the material covered by the reading, but I will expect you to come to class having already done the reading and ready to actively engage with me and the rest of the class on the covered material.  I will call on students frequently by name to apply the concepts from the reading and from lectures, as well as from previous experience, to new applications. 


For a class of this size, I prefer not to hold scheduled office hours but rather  encourage appointments via e-mail.  You may also just drop by my office and see if I’m available.   I encourage you to make an appointment any time you have trouble understanding the homework problems or need additional clarification of the material presented in class.