Lecture Notes
Course Handouts

ATMS 555, ESS 581, ASTR 555, Spr Qtr 2014

Instructor: Prof. David Catling
Email: dcatling@uw.edu

Office: JHN 325

Time/ Place/ Format: 3 credits. Two 75 minute sessions per week.
M: 1.30-2.45pm , Tue: 9-10.20am (ATG 154).
Assessment: Homeworks (65%), Term paper (35%).

General Description:

Problems of the origin, evolution, and structure of planetary atmospheres, emphasizing elements common to all; roles of radiation, chemistry, and dynamical processes. Recent research on the atmospheres of Venus, Mars,Titan, Jupiter and extrasolar planets in the context of comparative planetology.


1.    Atmospheric Structure on the Planets: The static structure (Wks 1-4)
1.1    Hydrostatic equilibrium. Stability and convection. Lapse rates on the planets. Water vapor in planetary atmospheres (Earth, Venus; Mars as a case study). Methane on Titan.
1.2    Energy Sources on Planets. Thermal balance. Greenhouse effect. Runaway greenhouse effect (early Venus, future Earth?). Radiative time constant on planets.
1.3    Radiative transfer. Solar/ UV (Mars as case study). Infrared. Radiative-convective equilibrium.
1.4    Photochemistry on Earth, Mars, Venus vs. reducing atmospheres
1.5    The upper atmosphere: Mesosphere, thermosphere, homopause, exosphere.
1.6    The three escape processes: Thermal (Jean's escape, hydrodynamic escape), impact erosion, nonthermal escape (e.g., sputtering).

2.    Atmospheric Evolution (Wks 4-7)
2.1    The solar nebula. Planetary formation processes and chemical equilibrium/mixing in the nebula.
2.2    Early steam atmospheres. Ocean-vaporizing impacts on Earth.
2.3    Noble gases and isotopes as indicators of atmospheric evolution. More atmospheric escape.
2.4    Evolution of Earth's atmosphere and climate over geologic history.
2.5    Evolution of Mars' atmosphere and climate
2.6    Evolution of Venus's atmosphere and climate
2.7    Evolution of Titan's atmosphere
2.8    Atmospheric spectroscopy of extrasolar planets

3.    Planetary Atmospheric Circulations: The moving structure (Wks 7-10)
3.1    Basic concepts: Geostrophic balance on Earth & Mars. Cyclostrophic balance. Thermodynamic balance.
3.2    Zonal-mean meridional circulation: Hadley cell theory and thermally-forced jets.
3.3    Eddy-driven jets. Planetary waves, buoyancy waves. Thermal tides.
3.4    Giant planets: deep and shallow models.
3.5    Superrotation. Eddy-driven circulations
3.6    Observed circulation case studies: Mars, Venus, Titan.
3.7    Triton and Pluto thin atmospheres. Volcanogenic ones: Io.
3.8    Exoplanet circulation regimes: rocky planets, giant planets.