Time/ Place/ Format:
3 credits. Two 75 minute sessions per week.
W: 1.30-2.45pm , F: 10.30-12.45pm (JHN 241).
Homeworks (65%), Term paper (35%).
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.
1.5 The upper atmosphere: Mesosphere, thermosphere,
1.6 Escape processes: Jean's escape, hydrodynamic
escape, impact erosion, 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
2.3 Noble gases and isotopes as indicators of
atmospheric evolution. More atmospheric escape.
2.4 Evolution of Earth's atmosphere and climate over
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 Fluid mechanics basics. Geostrophic balance on
Earth & Mars. Cyclostrophic balance. Rossby number.
3.2 Large-scale vertical motion. Richardson number.
3.3 Vorticity, potential vorticity. Atmospheric
waves. Thermal tides.
3.4 Mars: observed circulation
3.5 Venus: observed circulation; superrotation
3.6 Titan: observed circulation
3.7 Triton and Pluto atmospheres. Thin atmospheres,
3.8 Jupiter & extrasolar planet gas giants.