Atmospheric Science Degree Programs

Ph.D. | Master of Science | Bachelor of Science | Minor

The Ph.D. Program

(See the Graduate Studies Brochure (.pdf 850K) and complete descriptions of all courses in the Graduate School Bulletin.)

To be admitted to the Ph.D. program, a student must have a Master's degree (or equivalent) and show promise of being a successful Ph.D. candidate. Students must pass a written qualifying examination in 3 different fields of study, one of which must be taken from mathematics, to continue in the program. A student who fails the exam may retake it provided that the student has not been in the graduate program for more than 4 years. Every student with or without the Master's degree must take the written qualifying examination before the start of the third year of study.

The course requirement for the Ph.D. is 54 credits beyond the Bachelor's degree, with at least 27 of those credits earned in residence at UWM. The 54 credits may be in any combination of graduate courses and research credits, but must include at least 12 credits in atmospheric sciences at that 700-999 level, 9 credits from applied computational mathematics, and 3 credits of mathematical analysis (real or complex). All doctoral students are expected to take or know the material covered in at least one sub-discipline of atmospheric sciences: synoptic/dynamic meteorology, physical meteorology, air pollution meteorology, or cloud/radiative processes, and at least one area of mathematics (applied, computational, analysis, or probability and statistics). Students should take the courses in their areas of interest as early as possible. The unique element in the training of a Ph.D. student is the research that is done for the Ph.D. thesis. The student is directed in this research by the major professor whom the student is encouraged to select as soon as possible.

After passing the qualifying examination, the student must pass a combined oral doctoral preliminary examination and dissertation proposal hearing to qualify for formal admission to candidacy for the Doctoral degree. The examination seeks to determine the suitability of the proposed program for Ph.D. dissertation and the student's potential for performing the proposed research. This exam shall be taken no later than 4 semesters after passing the written qualifying examination. However, no student will be required to take the exam earlier than the sixth semester of graduate work at UWM. As a final step for the Ph.D., the candidate must pass Final Oral Examination in defense of the thesis. General Graduate School requirements for the Master's and Ph.D. degree are described in the Graduate School Bulletin.


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The Master of Science Program

Entering graduate students should have a general background in both mathematics and physics; given the intrinsic multi-disciplinary nature of the atmospheric sciences, no specific undergraduate course work is required. However, applicants should have an adequate mathematical backgrouind that includes calculus, vector analysis, ordinary and partial differential equations, and linear algebra. Students lacking this background may be admitted provided that the deficiencies amount to no more than two courses.

The minimum degree requirement is 30 graduate credits, 12 of which must be in the atmospheric sciences 700 number sequence, 6 of which will be approved graduate elective credits, and 6 of which will be from either the mathematics sequences 521/522 or 601/602, or from two of the following courses: Math 703, Math 705, Math 801, and Atm Sci 750.

(complete descriptions of all courses can be found in the Graduate School Bulletin).

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Selected Courses

460 Mesoscale Circulations Theory, analysis and forecasting of mesoscale flows, including convective systems, polar lows, terrain and surface forced flows, jet streams and hurricanes.
480 General Circulation/Climate Dynamics Zonally symmetric circulation; momentum, heat and water budgets; stationary waves; the El Nino-Southern Oscillation; global warming; interdecadal oceanic variability; simple climate models.
505 Micrometeorology Surface energy budget; radiation balance and heat transfer; boundary-layer profiles of wind, temperature, and moisture; radiation charts; weather satellites; radiation and climate.
511 Seminar in Atmospheric Radiation and Remote Sensing Basic laws of radiation, absorption and scattering, weather radar, retrieval of soundings, remote sensing and climate, weather satellites.
531 Numerical Weather Prediction The application of numerical methods to weather analysis and forecasting. Study of operational forecast models. Design of research models.
690 Topics in Atmospheric Science Topics discussed range from year to year, but have included global warming, chaos theory, and daily weather discussion in the recent past.
705 Air Pollution Modeling Computational techniques for determining surface fluxes of heat and momentum. Numerical methods for solving advection and diffusion problems; statistical diffusion modeling.
711 Cloud Dynamics Atmospheric applications of turbulent flow theory. Nonprecipitating clouds: structure of individual cumulus clouds, stratocumulus and cumulus boundary layers. Precipitating clouds: thunderstorms, squall lines, hurricanes.
750 Nonlinear Time Series Analysis Phase space reconstruction; singular spectrum analysis; prediction; dimension estimation; application of nonlinear time series analysis techniques to selected data sets.
751 Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Waves and instabilities in the atmosphere and ocean; wave-mean flow interactions; geophysical turbulence; ageostrophic circulations.
760 Advanced Synoptic/Mesoscale Meterology Advanced analysis techniques for synoptic/mesoscale diagnoses. Case studies of relevant circulation systems; interpretation of the role of synoptic forcing in system development

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The Bachelor of Science Program

The Bachelor of Science Program in Atmospheric Sciences is designed to prepare students for work as professional meteorologists in a wide range of disciplines, including weather forecasting and analysis air pollution meteorology. The following coursework is required:

Required Courses

Atm Sci 240

Introduction to Meteorology: Quantitativge approach to understanding the atmosphere, thermodynamics, horizontal motion, general circularion, atmospheric observations, clouds, weather map analysis.

3
Atm Sci 330 Air Pollution Meteorology: Pollutant sources and sinks, fundamental pollutant chemistry, monitoring techniques, averaging boundary layers and turbulence, diffusion theories, diffusion models, regional and global-scale pollution problems. 3
Atm Sci 350 Atmospheric Thermodynamics: Radiant energy, sensible heat, and atmospheric thermodynamics; the gas laws; hydrostatic and psychrometric equations; dry and moist convection; clouds and their phyiscal and energy relations. 3
Atm Sci 351 Dynamic Meteorology I: The role of dynamics in atmospheric physics; equations of motion; symmetric circulation models; gravity waves; Rossby waves; quasi-geostrophy; introduction to the instability of atmospheric flows. 3
Atm Sci 352 Dynamic Meteorology II: Circulation, vorticity, potential vorticity; shallow water equations; Poincare, Kelvin, and Rossby waves; energy and enstrophy; quasi-geostrophy for a stratified atmosphere; barotropic and baroclinic instability. 3
Atm Sci 360 Synoptic Meteorology: Mid-latitude weather systems; kinematics; frontogenesis; long waves; extra-tropical cyclones - theory of formation and development. 4
Atm Sci 361 Advanced Synoptic Analysis: Advanced objective and subjective analytical techniques applied to the evolution and structure of synoptic systems. Experience in real time forecasting. 4
Atm Sci 464 Cloud Physics 3
Atm Sci 511 Seminar in Atmospheric Radiation and Remote Sensing: Basic laws of radiation, absorption and scattering, weather radar, retrieval of soundings, remote sensing and climate, weather satellites. 3
     
Elective Courses
Atm Sci 460 Mesoscale Circulations: Theory, analysis and forecasting of mesoscale flows, including convective systems, polar lows, terrain and surface forced flows, jet streams and hurricanes. 3
Atm Sci 465 Meteorological Instrumentation: An introduction to the measurement of basic meteorological parameters. General measurement fundamentals; physical fundamentals; measurement of temperature, pressure, wind speed, wind direction, humidity, and radiation. 3
Atm Sci 470 Tropical Meteorology 3
Atm Sci 480 General Circulation and Climate Dynamics: Zonally symmetric circulation; momentum, heat and water budgets; stationary waves; the El Nino-Southern Oscillation; global warming; interdecadal oceanic variability; simple climate models. 3
Atm Sci 500 Statistical Methods in Atmospheric Sciences 3
Atm Sci 505 Micrometeorology: Surface energy budget; radiation balance and heat transfer; boundary-layer profiles of wind, temperature, and moisture; radiation charts; weather satellites; radiation and climate. 3
Atm Sci 513 Turbulence and Boundary Layer Processes 3
Atm Sci 520 Advanced Dynamic Meteorology 3
Atm Sci 531 Numerical Weather Prediction: The application of numerical methods to weather analysis and forecasting. Study of operational forecast models. Design of research models. 3
Atm Sci 690 Topics in Atmospheric Sciences: Topics discussed range from year to year, but have included global warming, chaos theory, and daily weather discussion in the recent past. 1-3
     
All students majoring in the Atmospheric Sciences must take the following courses:
Math 231, 232, 233, 234 Calculus 14-16
Chem 102 General Chemistry 5
Physics 209, 210, 214, 215 Physics I and II (Calculus Treatment) 10
CompSci 151 Introduction to Scientific Programming 3
Math 320 Introduction to Differential Equations 3
Math 321 Vector Analysis 3
Math 322 Introduction to Partial Differential Equations 3

 

Atmospheric sciences students are urged to take Math 231/232 and Physics 209/214 during their freshman years, as these courses are prerequisites for all core courses. Students are urged to engage in their math requirements as early in their college careers as possible, as this will ease their burden greatly during their senior year.


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Atmospheric Sciences Minor

Atmospheric Science relates closely to other science fields from Geoscience to Physics to Biology. Students with an interest in natural processes, computational modeling, or the environment, choose an Atmospheric Science minor to supplement their studies in those fields.

To earn an Atmospheric Science Minor students must successfully complete Atmospheric Science 240 (Introduction to Meteorology) and 360 (Synoptic Meteorology I), and an additional 12 credits in Atmospheric Science courses numbered 300 or above. Successful completion means a 2.5 GPA in all courses attempted.

See also the Atmospheric Science minor page in the Undergraduate Handbook


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