Jerry Harrington
OFFICE: 517 Walker Building
PHONE: 863-1584
WEB: Course Materials available on Canvas (
OFFICE HOURS: 5 - 6 pm Monday, 5 - 6 pm Wednesday, 4:30 – 5:30 pm Thursday

103 Walker Building
8:00 – 8:50 am Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
We may have a make up class or two and we will discuss it if needed.

PREREQUISITES: Mathematics through differential equations. Knowledge of basic physics (mechanics, electricity and magnetism.)

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

COURSE DESCRIPTION: METEO 531 is a 3-credit lecture course that is designed to provide you with a working knowledge of thermodynamics and how it is applied to the atmosphere.


  • Exam 1 (Tuesday, Sept. 26, 5:00 – 7:00pm): 25%
  • Exam 2 (Thursday, Nov. 2, 5:00 – 7:00pm): 25%
  • Exam 3 (Final exam time-slot): 25%
  • Homework: 25%

Location of Midterm Exams: 529 Walker Building


COURSE PHILOSOPHY: 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.

Paraphrase of one of Schopenhaurs’ Aphorisms.

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


It is expected that you have a solid, working knowledge of mathematics (calculus and differential equations) and physics (mechanics, electricity and magnetism). These are implied prerequisites for the course. Your ability to understand the material in this course depends critically on how well you learned your math and physics. I also expect each student to keep up with the material on her/his own. This includes reviewing lecture notes and reading on your own in a variety of textbooks in the library when needed. It is never possible to fully understand the material in a course solely by attending lectures. It is best to think of me as a guide through the relevant material, but it is you who must do 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 it. Working hard, thinking a lot, and maintaining a positive perspective are the best ways to gain the most from this course! Moreover, as graduate students, I expect each and every one of you to be here because you truly want to learn. Learning should be your main goal.


Homework provides the main mechanism to practice and learn the material covered in class and in the text. Each homework set will be composed of 4 to 6 problems and is due typically one week after the problem set is assigned. Late homework assignments are not accepted, unless there are extenuating circumstances.


Exams are scheduled during the evening hours (5 to 7 pm) so that you have extra time. I write the exams so that a student with strong knowledge of the material can complete the problems in one hour. Having a second hour to take the exam provides time to ponder any questions with which you are having difficulties.


Grades in this course are assigned in the following manner: I compute a grade distribution along with the mean, mode, median and standard deviation of the distribution. I usually place the lowest A- grade at the mean score. I then break A grades into two roughly equal groups (A and A-), depending on the standard deviation. Scores below the lowest A- generally earn B+ and B grades, again depending on the standard deviation. Typically, the lowest B grade is one standard deviation from the lowest A grade. Grades below that of B do occur, and you want to do your best to avoid a C (or lower) grade.

Recommended Books:

EMS Library - 105 Deike Building. (Books I have found useful)

  • 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 Sta-tistical Mechanics, Sears and Salinger, QC311 S42 1975



    1. Mechanical Systems and Internal Energy
    2. Translational, Rotational, Vibrational and Electronic Energies (Molecular Physics)
    3. The First Law (Energy Conservation)
    1. Gas Laws, Kinetic Theory, Mixtures of Gases
    2. Collision Interactions, Energy Transformations, Distributions of Energy
    3. Heat Capacities of Gases, Solids and Liquids
    4. Enthalpy
    5. Applications: Dry Adiabatic Processes, Radiative Emission
    1. Spontaneous Change, Cyclic Processes
    2. Entropy
    3. Free Energies and Applications
    1. Phase Transformations, Moisture Variables
    2. Phase Diagrams, Moist Conserved Variables
    3. Thermodynamic Diagrams (Skew Ts)
    1. Buoyancy and Parel Stability
    2. Cloud Processes: Cloud Formation (Lifted Condensation Level, Moist Adiabatic Lapse Rate)
    3. Conditional Instability

[Note that not all of this material will be found in your textbook. You will likely have to go to other books in order to find all of the information required.]


Academic Integrity

Cheating and plagiarism are serious offenses that may be grounds for failing an assignment, an exam, or the course. Working in groups to solve homework problems is encouraged because it is a great way to learn the material. However the final homework paper you turn in must be written by you alone. It should go without saying that exams must be worked independently. If you would like to learn more, please review the College policies on academic integrity :

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.

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 Office for Disability Services (ODS) website provides contact information for every Penn State campus: ( For further information, please visit the Office for Disability Services 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 based on the documentation guidelines ( 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.


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 Student and Family Services 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