Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Planetary Neutral Atmospheres
Academic Year
Semester 1
MP14010 or MT14010 or PH14010 or FG14010
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 22 x 1 Hour Lectures


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Conventional written examination  70%
Semester Assessment Worksheets  25%
Semester Assessment Presentation  5%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Conventional written examination  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Use the fundamental laws of fluid statics and fluid dynamics to solve problems in atmospheric dynamics.
2. Describe and explain the balance of energy in an atmospheric system.
3. Analyse the vertical structure of the neutral atmosphere in terms of the underlying physics and assess the factors controlling the vertical temperature profile.
4. Critically review the basic processes that determine the composition of the atmospheric layers.
5. Discuss the factors controlling large-scale winds and tides above planetary surfaces.
6. Examine the properties of atmospheric acoustic-gravity waves.


The aim of the module is to introduce the underlying physics of processes that determine the composition, structure and dynamics of the neutral atmospheric layers.

Brief description

The module gives and overview of planetary atmospheric science. It provides the student with the basic techniques in fluid dynamics and applies these to explain the composition, structure and behaviour of planetary neutral atmospheres. Approaches and constraints in modelling planetary atmospheres are also discussed.


  • Introduction to atmospheres; Areas of physics relevant to atmospheric physics.
  • Fundamental properties of neutral atmospheres.
  • Hydrostatic equilibrium and scale heights.
  • Vertical structure, atmospheric layers.
  • The vertical and horizontal structure of the Earth's neutral atmosphere.
  • Planetary atmospheres - differences from Earth.
  • Atmospheric chemistry, composition of planetary atmospheres.
  • Fluid mechanics and its applications to neutral atmospheres.
  • Atmospheric dynamics:
  • * Large-scale winds. * Atmospheric waves. * Atmospheric instabilities. * General global atmospheric circulation. * Climate Change.
  • Global observations, remote sensing.
  • Modelling planetary atmospheres - approaches and constraints.
Delivery throughout semester by lectures supported by feedback seminars.
From week 3, each lecture begins with a student presentation.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Questions set in assignments and formal examinations are numerical problems.
Communication Written communication is developed via the lecture assignments.
Improving own Learning and Performance Assignments are designed to encourage self-directed learning and improve performance, with feedback.
Information Technology Students are required to research topics within the module via the internet. They submit their presentation online.
Personal Development and Career planning The module will highlight the latest developments in this field and hence will assist with career development.
Problem solving Problem solving is a key skill in physics and will be tested via continuous assessment during the semester and in formal examination at the end of the module.
Research skills Directed reading in the specialist subject that builds on research expertise in the department will allow students to explore the background to the topics. Students will be directed to investigate the body of knowledge on the subject, which will entail research in library and over the internet.
Subject Specific Skills Discussions of planetary atmospheric science will provide background for techniques used in the field, such as data analysis and modelling.


This module is at CQFW Level 6