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Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee

Introduction to Atmospheric and Space Sciences

Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee and NPTEL via Swayam


This course introduces the basics of Earth’s atmosphere to graduate and post-graduate students.It starts from the evolution of atmosphere and gives understanding of various physical and chemical processes responsible for the observed changes we see in weather and climate. It gives a comprehensive understanding of neutral atmosphere, ionosphere and various plasma processes. This course will introduce the fundamentals of the various interrelations in atmospheric and space physics, the basic scientific methods and techniques.

INTENDED AUDIENCE : M.Sc (Physics), MSc (Chemistry),
MSc (Mathematics),
M.Tech (Atmospheric Science),
B.Tech (Civil), B.Tech (Mechanical),
Pre-PhDPREREQUISITES : BSc level Physics / B.Tech (I) level Physics courseINDUSTRY SUPPORT : ISRO, CSIR, DRDO



Week 1 : Atmospheric evolution, solar radiation, present day atmospheric constituents, various stages in the evolution of earth’s
atmosphere, formation of ozone, carbon budget, oxygen chemistry and life on earth.Week 2 : Variation of temperature with height, density and ionization with altitude, classification of atmosphere based on
temperature and pressure, hydrostatic equation, hypsometric equationWeek 3 : Fundamental forces, non-inertial forces, momentum equations governing the motions in atmosphere, curvature effect,
various scales of atmospheric motions.Week 4 :Hydrostaticequilibrium, hypsometric equation, geopotential height, thermodynamic system, equilibriumstate, stability, gas laws,
Avogadro hypothesis, gas constant, dry air, mixture of gases, mean molecular mass, humidity variables, moist air, virtual temperatureWeek 5 :Enthalpy, adiabatic processes, air parcel, mixing ratio and specific humidity, saturation vapor pressure,
relative humidity, dew point, frost point, lifting condensationlevel, wet-bulb temperature, latent heatsWeek 6 :Pseudo-adiabatic processes, equivalent potentialtemperature, parcel lapse rates, convection of air, collision and coalescence processes,
cloud formation, ascent of clouds and types,cloud morphology, cloud classificationWeek 7 :Atmospheric stability conditions, Brunt-vaisala frequency, stable, unstable and neutral atmosphereWeek 8 :Cloud seeding and precipitation,Droplet growth, curvature effect and solute effect, radial growth of droplets by diffusionWeek 9 : Earth’s upper atmosphere, Ionosphere, various layers and chemistry of ionosphere, types of reactions,
Chapman's theory of layer productionWeek 10 :Hydrogen in ionosphere, Debye's shielding and Debye's potentialWeek 11 :Particle motion in uniform electric field, particle motion in uniform magneticfield and guiding center,
particle motion in gradient magnetic fieldsWeek 12 :Gradient drift and curvature drift, vacuum drift and planetary ring current, magnetic mirroring and loss cone, airglow and aurora.

Taught by

Prof. MV Sunil Krishna

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