701-0475-00L  Atmospheric Physics

SemesterAutumn Semester 2023
LecturersU. Lohmann
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionGerman


701-0475-00 GAtmosphärenphysik
Im Anschluss an die LV findet ein freiwilliges, einstündiges Tutorial im gleichen Raum (LFO C13) statt.
2 hrs
Wed10:15-12:00LFO C 13 »
U. Lohmann

Catalogue data

AbstractThis course covers the basics of atmospheric physics, which consist of: cloud and precipitation formation especially prediction of showers and longer-lasting convective storms and optical phenomena
ObjectiveStudents are able
- to explain the mechanisms of thunderstorm formation using knowledge of thermodynamics and cloud microphysics.
- to interpret precipitation radar images
- to evaluate the significance of clouds and aerosol particles for artificial weather modification.

In the course "Atmospheric Physics", the competencies of process understanding, system understanding and data analysis & interpretation are taught, applied and examined. Measurement methods are taught as well.
ContentThe course starts with introducing selected concepts of thermodynamics for atmospheric processes: The students learn the concept of the thermodynamic equilibrium and derive the Clausius-Clayperon equation from the first law of thermodynamics. This equation is central for the phase transitions in clouds.

Students also learn to classify radiosondes with the help the thermodynamic charts (tephigrams) and to identify cloud base, cloud top, available convective energy in them. Atmospheric mixing processes are introduced for fog formation. The concept of the air parcel is used to understand convection.

Aerosol particles are introduced in terms of their physical properties and their role in cloud formation based on Köhler theory. Thereafter cloud microphysical processes including ice nucleation are discussed.

With these basics, the different forms of precipitation formation (convective vs. stratiform) is discussed as well as the formation and different stages of severe convective storms.

The concepts are applied to understand and judge the validity of different proposed articifical weather modification ideas.
Lecture notesPowerpoint slides and chapters from the textbook will be made available on moodle: Link
LiteratureLohmann, U., Lüönd, F. and Mahrt, F., An Introduction to Clouds:
From the Microscale to Climate, Cambridge Univ. Press, 391 pp., 2016.

An electronic version of this book can be obtained via the ETH library.

pdf-files of the revised book will be provided on moodle on a chapter-by-chapter basis.
Prerequisites / NoticeWe offer a lab tour, in which we demonstrate how some of the processes discussed in the lectures are measured with instruments.

There is a additional tutorial right after each lecture to give you the chance to ask further questions and discuss the exercises. The participation is recommended but voluntary.
Subject-specific CompetenciesConcepts and Theoriesassessed
Techniques and Technologiesfostered
Method-specific CompetenciesAnalytical Competenciesassessed
Social CompetenciesCommunicationassessed
Personal CompetenciesCritical Thinkingassessed
Self-direction and Self-management assessed

Performance assessment

Performance assessment information (valid until the course unit is held again)
Performance assessment as a semester course
ECTS credits3 credits
ExaminersU. Lohmann
Typesession examination
Language of examinationGerman
RepetitionThe performance assessment is offered every session. Repetition possible without re-enrolling for the course unit.
Mode of examinationoral 25 minutes
Additional information on mode of examinationDie Leistungskontrolle setzt sich zusammen aus:
- einer mündlichen Abschlussprüfung (25 Minuten), die mindestens 70% der Note ausmacht
- einer schriftlichen Zwischenprüfung (60 Minuten), die 30% zur Note zählt, wenn sie die Note verbessert. Sie zielt darauf ab, die mathematischen/analytischen Fähigkeiten zu testen.
-- zusätzlich kann ein Bonus von 0.25 Notenpunkten erzielt werden, wenn 80% der Punkte in den Übungsaufgaben erreicht werden.
This information can be updated until the beginning of the semester; information on the examination timetable is binding.

Learning materials

Main linkInformation
LiteratureLohmann, Lüönd, Mahrt: An Introduction to Clouds, Cambridge Univ Press, 2016
Only public learning materials are listed.


No information on groups available.


There are no additional restrictions for the registration.

Offered in

Atmospheric and Climate Science MasterPrerequisitesWInformation
Earth and Climate Sciences BachelorAdvancedWInformation
Interdisciplinary Sciences BachelorElectivesWInformation
Physics BachelorElectivesWInformation
Physics MasterSelection: Environmental PhysicsWInformation
Environmental Sciences BachelorAtmosphere and ClimateWInformation
Environmental Sciences MasterPrerequisitesWInformation