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Atmospheric Sciences

Department Overview

416 Atmospheric Sciences-Geophysics Building

Atmospheric sciences is a wide-ranging discipline that includes topics as diverse as weather forecasting, global warming, air quality, Pacific Northwest weather and climate, mountain weather, marine weather, El Nino, the ozone hole, ice ages, and the weather of Mars. It considers problems that are both scientifically challenging and critical for the welfare of modern society. These problems are addressed with theory, measurements, and computer simulations.

Undergraduate Program

Adviser
416 Atmospheric Sciences-Geophysics Building, Box 351640
(206) 543-4576
advise@atmos.washington.edu

The Department of Atmospheric Sciences offers the following programs of study:

  • The Bachelor of Science degree with a major in atmospheric sciences with options in meteorology, climate, chemistry, and data science
  • A minor in atmospheric sciences
  • The minor in Climate Science is offered jointly with the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, the Department of Earth and Space Sciences, and the School of Oceanography.

Bachelor of Science

Suggested First- and Second-Year Courses: English composition; ATM S 220; MATH 124, MATH 125, MATH 126; PHYS 121, PHYS 122, PHYS 123; CSE 142 or CSE 160. The first upper-division core course is ATM S 301, which is offered autumn quarter only. Any lower-division atmospheric sciences courses except ATM S 220 count as electives and not as part of the major.

Department Admission Requirements

  1. Minimum course requirements: English composition; MATH 124, MATH 125, MATH 126; PHYS 121, PHYS 122, PHYS 123
  2. Grade requirements: Minimum 2.0 grade for each course required for admission; minimum 2.50 cumulative GPA in courses required for admission

Major Requirements

Minimum 97-108 credits as follows:

  1. Foundaiton requirements (30 credits): MATH 124, MATH 125, MATH 126; PHYS 121, PHYS 122, PHYS 123
  2. Core requirements (28-29 credits): STAT 390 (or Q SCI 381 for options in meteorology, climate, chemistry); ATM S 220 (2), ATM S 301, ATM S 321, ATM S 340, ATM S 341, ATM S 370, ATM S 431.
  3. Options (39 to 49 credits):
    1. Meteorology (42-45 credits)
      1. Requirements (33 credits): AMATH 301; ATM S 358, ATM S 441, ATM S 442, ATM S 444, ATM S 451, ATM S 452; CSE 142 or CSE 160
      2. Advanced Mathematics (9-12 credits): MATH 324; either AMATH 351 and AMATH 353, or MATH 307, MATH 308, and MATH 309
    2. Climate (39-49 credits)
      1. Requirements (27-29 credits): AMATH 301; ATM S 350; ATM S 358, ATM S 380, ATM S 487; CSE 142 or CSE 160; either ESS 431 or ESS 433; either OCEAN 423 or OCEAN 450
      2. Electives (12-20 credits): minimum four courses from an approved list. See adviser for approved list of electives.
    3. Chemistry (44-48 credits)
      1. Requirements (35 credits): ATM S 458, ATM S 480; CHEM 142, CHEM 152, CHEM 162, CHEM 223, CHEM 224, CHEM 321
      2. Electives (9-13 credits): minimum three courses from an approved list. See adviser for approved list of electives.
    4. Data Science (39-49 credits)
      1. Requirements (31-35 credits): CSE 143 or CSE 163; one of CSE 416/STAT 416, STAT 435, or INFO 371; SOC 225 (3); ATM S 358; either MATH 307, MATH 308, MATH 309, or AMATH 351, AMATH 353, MATH 324; either CSE 414 or INFO 430; either CSE 412, HCDE 411, or INFO 474
      2. Prerequisites for requirements (8-14 credits): See adviser for list of prerequisites
  4. Minimum 2.0 grade in courses applied to the major

Pre-graduate Program for Physical Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Majors

The following elective course sequence is suitable preparation for students interested in pursuing graduate study in atmospheric sciences: ATM S 301, ATM S 340, ATM S 441.

Minor

Minor Requirements: 25 credits to include ATM S 301 plus other approved courses. The minor may include a maximum of 6 independent study credits. Prerequisites include MATH 126 or MATH 136, and PHYS 123. Some courses may require further math or chemistry experience.

Minor in Climate Science: See description in the Climate Science listing in the Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Programs section of the General Catalog.

Student Outcomes and Opportunities

  • Learning Objectives and Expected Outcomes: The degree program qualifies students for professional employment in weather forecasting, air-quality control and monitoring, and other areas of atmospheric sciences and related fields. The baccalaureate degree also is appropriate preparation for graduate study in atmospheric sciences.
  • Instructional and Research Facilities: Extensive computer resources are available in the departmental computer laboratory. The department also maintains an extensive collection of weather data in graphical and numerical electronic format. A study area is provided for undergraduates. An instrument laboratory is maintained with a wide range of observing and data collection systems. Students also have access to a machine shop and an electronics laboratory.
  • Honors Options Available: With College Honors (Completion of Honors Core Curriculum and Departmental Honors); With Honors (Completion of Departmental Honors requirements in the major). See adviser for requirements.
  • Research, Internships, and Service Learning: Internships are available either within the department or with outside organizations, providing a valuable opportunity to test a student's interests in various meteorological career paths and to extend the student's knowledge. A limited number of departmental scholarships are available each year, based on academic excellence or financial need. Employment opportunities are often available in one of the many departmental research groups, and some internships are paid.

Students majoring in atmospheric sciences may take advantage of a variety of opportunities to enhance their education. Undergraduate students are welcome at the department's many seminars and colloquia and are encouraged to join in the annual forecast contest. They may work on independent research projects under the guidance of a faculty member, or be an active participant in a field program.

  • Department Scholarships: The Mindlin-Reed-Caldwell Memorial is awarded annually, based on both academic excellence and financial need.
  • Student Organizations/Associations: Student Chapter of American Meteorological Society, Puget Sound American Meteorological Society Chapter, Weekly Weather Discussion for all majors.

Graduate Program

Graduate Program Coordinator
416 Atmospheric Sciences-Geophysics, Box 351640
(206) 543-4576
atmosadv@uw.edu

Rapid growth of research in atmospheric sciences began in the late 1940s in response to needs and opportunities in weather forecasting. While fundamental research to advance weather forecasting abilities continues as a core element, atmospheric sciences now address a broad range of problems of fundamental interest and importance. Examples include changes in climate that could result from increases in atmospheric CO2 and other greenhouse gases, causes and impacts of air pollution, interactions between the atmosphere and ecosystems, and the application of remote-sensing techniques for monitoring and understanding weather, climate, and atmospheric composition.

Graduate students in the atmospheric sciences come from a variety of disciplines: physics, chemistry, engineering, atmospheric or geophysical sciences, and applied mathematics. Each of these backgrounds is valuable for specific subfields within the atmospheric sciences. However, students should have in common a sound background in the fundamentals of physics and applied mathematics and an interest in complex natural phenomena. The well-prepared graduate student may expect to begin research work rather quickly.

Master of Science

Admission Requirements

  1. Graduate School application
  2. Official copy of transcripts
  3. Statement of interest(s) - one page essay, addressing reasons why the student wishes to pursue a graduate program in atmospheric sciences
  4. Three letters of recommendation submitted online
  5. For international applicants: TOEFL scores, sent by the testing service
  6. Deadline: December 31, for admission the following autumn. Admission is for autumn quarter only.

Degree Requirements

36 credits

  1. Core classes (25-28 credits): ATM S 501, ATM S 502, ATM S 532, ATM S 535, ATM S 558. One of the following sequences: ATM S 505, ATM S 509, ATM S 542; or ATM S 503, ATM S 504
  2. Two-course dynamics sequence (ATM S 503, ATM S 504), intended for those whose research specialty is outside dynamic meteorology. Most students take the three-course sequence in dynamics (ATM S 505, ATM S 509, ATM S 542).
  3. Minimum 27 credits from graded courses numbered 500 or above; including at least 3 credits in approved applied mathematics courses and 24 in core atmospheric sciences courses. 9 credits for the master's thesis. Students intending to pursue a PhD should take all required courses shown above.

Doctor of Philosophy

Admission Requirements

  1. Admission to the MS track
  2. Application to the PhD program through one of the three following options:
    1. MS thesis in atmospheric sciences or a closely related discipline, completed before entering the department, submitted the first week of autumn quarter of the student's second academic year.
    2. MS thesis approved by the MS Supervisory Committee.
    3. Manuscript of a peer-reviewed journal article on which the student is lead author.

Degree Requirements

Minimum 90 credits

  1. Coursework
    1. ATM S 501, ATM S 502
    2. ATM S 505, ATM S 509, ATM S 542 (Students whose anticipated research has minimal connection with atmospheric dynamics, such as laboratory or fieldwork in atmospheric chemistry or cloud microphysics, may take ATM S 503 and ATM S 504 in place of ATM S 505, ATM S 509, and ATM S 542. See Graduate Program Coordinator before enrolling in ATM S 503.)
    3. ATM S 532, ATM S 558
    4. ATM S 535
    5. Each of the following, every quarter coursework is taken: ATM S 520, either ATM S 521 or ATM S 523, and either ATM S 700 or ATM S 800 (up to 10 credits each quarter)
    6. Electives: 8-11 credits in ATM S courses in student's areas of interest; and at least 3 credits in non-ATM S coursework
    7. Applied math: Either AMATH 501, AMATH 503, AMATH 581, AMATH 583, or AMATH 584
  2. General examination
  3. Dissertation
  4. Final examination

Data Science Option

Minimum 90 credits

  1. Coursework
    1. ATM S 501, ATM S 502
    2. ATM S 505, ATM S 509, ATM S 542 (Students whose anticipated research has minimal connection with atmospheric dynamics, such as laboratory or fieldwork in atmospheric chemistry or cloud microphysics, may take ATM S 503 and ATM S 504 in place of ATM S 505, ATM S 509, and ATM S 542. See Graduate Program Coordinator before enrolling in ATM S 503.)
    3. ATM S 532, ATM S 558
    4. ATM S 535
    5. Each of the following, every quarter coursework is taken: ATM S 520, either ATM S 521 or ATM S 523, and either ATM S 700 or ATM S 800 (up to 10 credits each quarter)
    6. Electives: 5-8 elective credits in area of interest
    7. 9-15 credits from UW eScience Institute Graduate Data Science Option list, these courses may count towards 5-8 elective credits required.
    8. Applied math: Either AMATH 501, AMATH 503, AMATH 581, AMATH 583, or AMATH 584
    9. CHEM E 599F (2 credits)
  2. General examination
  3. Dissertation
  4. Final examination

Advanced Data Science Option

Minimum 90 credits

  1. Coursework
    1. ATM S 501, ATM S 502
    2. ATM S 505, ATM S 509, ATM S 542 (Students whose anticipated research has minimal connection with atmospheric dynamics, such as laboratory or fieldwork in atmospheric chemistry or cloud microphysics, may take ATM S 503 and ATM S 504 in place of ATM S 505, ATM S 509, and ATM S 542. See Graduate Program Coordinator before enrolling in ATM S 503.)
    3. ATM S 532, ATM S 558
    4. ATM S 535
    5. Each of the following, every quarter coursework is taken: ATM S 520, either ATM S 521 or ATM S 523, and either ATM S 700 or ATM S 800 (up to 10 credits each quarter)
    6. Electives: 2-5 elective credits in area of interest
    7. 11-13 credits from UW eScience Institute Graduate Data Science Option list.
    8. Applied math: Either AMATH 501, AMATH 503, AMATH 581, AMATH 583, or AMATH 584
    9. CHEM E 599F (4 credits)
  2. General examination
  3. Dissertation
  4. Final examination

Assistantships

Nearly all graduate students are supported by either research assistantships or fellowships. Students are usually a teaching assistant during at least one quarter, in the second year of study. Students are supported full-time during the summer.