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Atmospheric sciences is an umbrella term for the study of the atmosphere, its processes, the effects other systems have on the atmosphere, and the effects of the atmosphere on these other systems. Meteorology includes atmospheric chemistry and atmospheric physics with a major focus on weather forecasting. Climatology is the study of atmospheric changes (both long and short-term) that define average climates and their change over time, due to both natural climate variability and anthropogenic climate variability. Atmospheric science has been extended to the field of planetary science and the study of the atmospheres of the planets of the solar system.
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Atmospheric chemistry is a branch of atmospheric science in which the chemistry of the Earth's atmosphere and that of other planets is studied. It is a multidisciplinary field of research and draws on environmental chemistry, physics, meteorology, computer modeling, oceanography, geology and volcanology and other disciplines. Research is increasingly connected with other areas of study such as climatology.
The composition and chemistry of the atmosphere is of importance for several reasons, but primarily because of the interactions between the atmosphere and living organisms. The composition of the Earth's atmosphere has been changed by human activity and some of these changes are harmful to human health, crops and ecosystems. Examples of problems which have been addressed by atmospheric chemistry include acid rain, photochemical smog and global warming. Atmospheric chemistry seeks to understand the causes of these problems, and by obtaining a theoretical understanding of them, allow possible solutions to be tested and the effects of changes in government policy evaluated.
Atmospheric dynamics involves the study of observations and theory dealing with all motion systems of meteorological importance. The list includes diverse phenomena as thunderstorms, tornadoes, gravity waves, tropical cyclones, extratropical cyclones, jet streams, and global-scale circulations. The goal of dynamical studies is to explain the observed circulations on the basis of fundamental principles from physics. The objectives of such studies include improving weather forecasting, developing methods for predicting seasonal and interannual climate fluctuations, and understanding the implications of human-induced perturbations (e.g., increased carbon dioxide concentrations or depletion of the ozone layer) on the global climate.
Atmospheric physics is the application of physics to the study of the atmosphere. Atmospheric physicists attempt to model Earth's atmosphere and the atmospheres of the other planets using fluid flow equations, chemical models, radiation balancing, and energy transfer processes in the atmosphere and underlying oceans. In order to model weather systems, atmospheric physicists employ elements of scattering theory, wave propagation models, cloud physics, statistical mechanics and spatial statistics which are highly mathematical and related to physics. It has close links to meteorology and climatology and also covers the design and construction of instruments for studying the atmosphere and the interpretation of the data they provide, including remote sensing instruments.
In the UK, atmospheric studies are underpinned by the Meteorological Office. Divisions of the U.S National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) oversee research projects and weather modeling involving atmospheric physics. The US National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center also carries out studies of the high atmosphere.
In contrast to meteorology, which studies short term weather systems lasting up to a few weeks, climatology studies the frequency and trends of those systems. It studies the periodicity of weather events over years to millennia, as well as changes in long-term average weather patterns, in relation to atmospheric conditions. Climatologists, those who practice climatology, study both the nature of climates - local, regional or global - and the natural or human-induced factors that cause climates to change. Climatology considers the past and can help predict future climate change.
Phenomena of climatological interest include the atmospheric boundary layer, circulation patterns, heat transfer (radiative, convective and latent), interactions between the atmosphere and the oceans and land surface (particularly vegetation, land use and topography), and the chemical and physical composition of the atmosphere. Related disciplines include astrophysics, atmospheric physics, chemistry, ecology, geology, geophysics, glaciology, hydrology, oceanography, and volcanology.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Atmospheric_sciences". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|