Spring 2019 

Jerry Y. Harrington
OFFICE: 517 Walker Building
PHONE: 863-1584
WEB: Course Content on Canvas
OFFICE HOURS: 4:00 - 5:00 pm Mon., 3:30 - 4:30 pm Fri. (My office)
4:45 - 6:00 pm Wed. (My office, 529 Walker if large attendance)

Zhu Yao
OFFICE:  601 Walker Building
OFFICE HOURS: 1:00 - 2:30pm Tuesday and Thursday 

101 Walker Building
2:30 - 3:20 pm Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 

METEO 101 or 201 and PHYS 212
METEO 300 (Concurrent) 

COURSE TEXTBOOKS (Recommended): Atmospheric Thermodynamics by C.F. Bohren and B. Albrecht

COURSE DESCRIPTION: METEO 431 is a 3-credit lecture course that is designed to provide you with basic knowledge of thermodynamics and how it is applied to the atmosphere. 


  • Exam 1 (Wednesday, Feb 13th, 5 – 7 pm): 25%
  • Exam 2 (Tuesday, March, 26th, 5 – 7 pm): 25%
  • Exam 3 (Final Exam Period): 25%
  • Quizzes (every other Friday): 15%
  • Homework: 10%

Location of Exam 1 and 2: 529 and 511 Walker Building 


    1. Atmospheric Context [Sect. 1.1, 1.7, 2.6]
    2. Basic Concepts [Sect. 2.1]
  2. ENERGY 
    1. Mechanical Systems [Sect. 1.2-1.3]
    2. Interaction Energies [Sect. 1.4, 1.6]
    3. Internal Energy and the First Law [Sect. 1.8]
    4. Zeroth Law and Thermometry [Sect. 2.1]
  3. GASES 
    1. Gas Laws [Sect. 2.1, 2.2]
    2. Kinetic Theory [Sect. 2.1, 2.3-2.5, 5.4]
    3. Gaseous Mixtures [Sect. 2.7-2.8, 3.7]
    1. Thermodynamic Functions [Sect. 3.1]
    2. Specific Heats [Sect. 3.2, 3.6-3.7]
    3. Enthalpy [Sect. 3.2]
    1. Spontaneous Change [Sect. 4.1]
    2. Cyclic Processes [Sect. 4.4]
    3. Entropy [Sect. 4.1-4.3] 
    1. Phase Transformations [Sect. 5.1-5.2]
    2. Free Energy [Sect. 5.3, 5.6-5.8]
    3. Phase Diagrams [Sect. 5.5]
    1. Thermodynamic Diagrams [Sect. 6.6]
    2. Processes [Sect. 3.3-3.5, 6.3-6.4, 6.9]
    3. Soundings and Stability [Sect. 3.5, 6.1-6.2, 6.5, 6.7] 
      [Information in the brackets to the right of each topic identifies where the subject matter can be located in Bohren & Albrecht’s textbook.]

Earth & Mineral Sciences Library - 105 Deike Building.

Title Author(s) Call Number
Atmospheric Thermodynamics Iribarne and Godson QC880.4 T5I74 1981
Thermodynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans Curry and Webster QC880.4 T5C87 1999
Atmospheric Science Wallace and Hobbs QC861.2 W34 1977
Physical Chemistry Atkins QD453.2 A88 1994b
Understanding Thermodynamics van Ness QC311.V285 1983
Thermodynamics, Kinetic Theory, and Statistical Mechanics Sears and Salinger QC311 S42 1975 


COURSE PHILOSOPHY: “Do not worry too much about your difficulties in mathematics, I assure you mine are still greater.” - Albert Einstein

“I see and I forget, I hear and I forget, I do and I understand.” - Confucius 

If you merely read books and listen to others, you will never really learn anything new. New knowledge is only truly gained by thinking and working things through for yourself. The difference is like that between one who simply reads about an experience and one who lives it.

– Schopenhaur's Aphorisms (Paraphrased). 

“The main job of a teacher is to free the student from the teacher” - Zen Buddhist Saying 

COURSE EXPECTATIONS: It is expected that you have a good understanding of mathematics (calculus I and II) and physics (mechanics, electricity and magnetism). These are implied prerequisites for the course. Students with weak backgrounds in these fundamental disciplines are advised to either postpone enrollment in this course, or work to get up to speed as quickly as possible. Your ability to understand the material in this course depends critically on how well you learned your math and physics.

I expect active participation from all students in the course each and every week. I also expect each student to keep up with the material on her/his own. This includes reviewing lecture notes, reading assigned material, and reading material from books in the library. It is never possible to fully understand the material in a course simply by attending lectures. It is best to think of me as a guide through the relevant material, but it is you who must do all the hard work that goes along with the learning process. Like anything else, what you get out of this course depends on what you put into, and depends on your attitude as well. Working hard, thinking a lot, and maintaining a positive perspective are the best ways to gain the most from this course! 

COURSE LETTER GRADES: I assign letter grades based on the class statistics. I nearly always use the mean of the final score distribution as lowest B- grade.  In most prior classes, the mean has usually fallen around 76 to 80, but not always. Breaks between letter grades are assigned based on the standard deviation in the final score distribution. I generally add the mean plus the standard deviation to find the lowest A- and the mean minus the standard deviation is generally the lowest C.  Divisions among specific letter grades (such as B-, B and B+) are generally determined by dividing the grade range into three equal parts. Scores below a 50 automatically earn and F grade in this course. 

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: Cheating and plagiarism are serious offenses that may be grounds for failing an assignment, an exam, or even the course. Please review the College policies related to academic integrity on the web at : Earth and Mineral Sciences Academic Integrity Policy:

(Disclosure: I did not write these syllabus components.) 


  1. Students can demonstrate an ability to apply thermodynamic principles quantitatively to atmospheric problems (relate to program objectives 1 and 3)
  2. Students can demonstrate the use of thermodynamics equations in determining the thermal structure of basic atmospheric phenomena (relate to program objectives 2) 


  1. Students can demonstrate knowledge of how thermal energy and the first law of thermodynamics are applied to describe atmospheric thermal properties and structure (relate to program outcomes b)
  2. Students can demonstrate knowledge of how entropy and the second law of thermodynamics are applied to basic thermal problems (relate to program outcome b)
  3. Students can demonstrate knowledge of the process of phase change in atmospheric phenomena (relate to program outcomes b and c)
  4. Students can demonstrate an ability to analyze atmospheric soundings using a thermodynamic diagram (relate to program outcomes a, b, c, and d) 

Assistance with Textbooks: Penn State honors and values the socioeconomic diversity of our students. If you require assistance with the costs of textbooks for this course, contact the Office of Student Care and Advocacy (120 Boucke Building, 863-4926, For additional need related to socioeconomic status please visit

Course Copyright

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor’s express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws. 

For example, uploading completed labs, homework, or other assignments to any study site constitutes a violation of this policy. 

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities: Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources (SDR) website provides contact information for every Penn State campus: ( For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources website ( 

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation: If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations. 

Attendance: This course abides by the Penn State Attendance Policy E-11:, and Conflict Exam Policy 44-35: Please also see Illness Verification Policy:, and Religious Observance Policy: Students who miss class for legitimate reasons will be given a reasonable opportunity to make up missed work, including exams and quizzes.  Students are not required to secure the signature of medical personnel in the case of illness or injury and should use their best judgment on whether they are well enough to attend class or not; the University Health Center will not provide medical verification for minor illnesses or injuries. Other legitimate reasons for missing class include religious observance, military service, family emergencies, regularly scheduled university-approved curricular or extracurricular activities, and post-graduate, career-related interviews when there is no opportunity for students to re-schedule these opportunities (such as employment and graduate school final interviews).  Students who encounter serious family, health, or personal situations that result in extended absences should contact the Office of the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs (AVPSA) and Student Care and Advocacy for help:  Whenever possible, students participating in University-approved activities should submit to the instructor a Class Absence Form available from the Registrar's Office:, at least one week prior to the activity. 

Weather Delays: Campus emergencies, including weather delays, are announced on Penn State News and communicated to cell phones, email, the Penn State Facebook page, and Twitter via PSUAlert (Sign up at:

Reporting Bias-Motivated Incidents: Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff.  Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated ( and can be reported through Educational Equity via the Report Bias webpage

Counseling and Psychological Services: Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional wellbeing.  The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings.  These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation.  Services include the following: 

Counseling and Psychological Services at University Park  (CAPS): 814-863-0395
Counseling and Psychological Services at Commonwealth Campuses
Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400
Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741