Course: Atmosphere, Ocean and Environmental Change with Ron Smith Dnatube

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Lec 1 - Introduction to Atmospheres

"Lec 1 - Introduction to Atmospheres" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) This course studies the atmosphere and the ocean as parts of Earth's climate system. The climate is studied in both quantitative and qualitative ways through use of the textbook, lectures, labs and problem sets. Today's lecture includes an examination of Hurricane Irene that hit Connecticut a...
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Lec 2 - Retaining an Atmosphere

"Lec 2 - Retaining an Atmosphere" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) There are other ways in which we can perceive the existence of the atmosphere, predominantly through our perceptions of pressure. Not all planets have atmospheres, and the existence of an atmosphere depends on the ability of gas molecules to remain trapped close to a planet by its gravitational...
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Lec 3 - The Perfect Gas Law

"Lec 3 - The Perfect Gas Law" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) The Perfect Gas Law relates temperature, pressure, and density of gases in the atmosphere. It can be used to demonstrate why warm air rises, cool air sinks, and helium balloons float in the air. Buoyancy forces act in fluids (both water and air) when fluid is displaced by a parcel of a fluid with a...
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Lec 4 - Vertical Structure of the atmosp ...

"Lec 4 - Vertical Structure of the atmosphere; Residence Time" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) Pressure and density decrease exponentially with altitude in the atmosphere. This leads to buoyancy effects in the atmosphere when parcels of air are heated or cooled, or raised or lowered in the atmosphere. Temperature varies in a more complicated way with altitude in...
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Lec 5 - Earth Systems Analysis (Tank Exp ...

"Lec 5 - Earth Systems Analysis (Tank Experiment)" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) Several experiments are performed using a water tank with an input flow of water and an output flow. These experiments demonstrate the concepts of equilibrium and steady-state in system analysis and are analogous to various Earth systems; lakes and rivers and the overall heat...
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Lec 6 - Greenhouse Effect, Habitability

"Lec 6 - Greenhouse Effect, Habitability" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) A simple model of the overall Earth's heat budget is derived. The Earth is assumed to be in equilibrium with the input of solar radiation balanced by the output of infrared radiation emitted by the Earth's surface. Using this model, the Earth's surface temperature is calculated to be cooler...
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Lec 7 - Hydrostatic Balance

"Lec 7 - Hydrostatic Balance" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) The hydrostatic law describes the weight of a fluid overlying a given area, or the pressure at a particular point. It can be used to calculate the approximate atmospheric mass over a particular area, or to calculate the change in pressure over a given change in altitude. A calculation of the pressure...
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Lec 8 - Horizontal Transport

"Lec 8 - Horizontal Transport" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) This lecture describes how pollutants mix in the atmosphere. Three cases are considered: confined mixing, unconfined mixing, and unconfined mixing with wind. In a confined volume, the concentration of pollutant in the air depends on the volume and the mass of the air present in the volume....
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Lec 9 - Water in the Atmosphere I

"Lec 9 - Water in the Atmosphere I" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) The lapse rate describes the rate at which air cools with altitude. Atmospheric stability depends on the lapse rate. When an air parcel is lifted or lowered, it can continue to rise or descend based on the temperature of the surrounding air at the new altitude, which indicates an unstable...
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Lec 10 - Water in the Atmosphere II

"Lec 10 - Water in the Atmosphere II" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) Air is able to hold a limited amount of water vapor, and that amount depends on the temperature of the air. When this saturation vapor pressure is exceeded, liquid water begins to condense and clouds form. There are several different types of clouds, some which rain and others which do not,...
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Lec 11 - Clouds and Precipitation (cloud ...

"Lec 11 - Clouds and Precipitation (cloud chamber experiment)" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) Scattered visible light and microwave radar can used used to detect clouds and precipitation. Cloud formation in rising air can be simulated in the classroom by suddenly dropping the pressure in a glass chamber. The small cloud droplets formed in this way fall too slowly...
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Lec 12 - Circulation of the Atmosphere ( ...

"Lec 12 - Circulation of the Atmosphere (Exam I review)" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) There is a latitudinal gradient of heat on the Earth caused by the tilt of the Earth's axis with respect to the sun. This tilt produces seasonal fluctuations in heat input from the sun, as well as an excess of heat received on average annually near the equator. Heat is...
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Lec 13 - Global Climate and the Coriolis ...

"Lec 13 - Global Climate and the Coriolis Force" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) The circulation in the atmosphere is composed of three circulation cells in the northern and southern hemispheres. These cells are caused by the rotation of the Earth which creates the Coriolis force. The Coriolis force deflects northern hemisphere motion to the right and southern...
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Lec 14 - Coriolis Force and Storms

"Lec 14 - Coriolis Force and Storms" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) Large scale air motion in the atmosphere occurring sufficiently above the surface is in geostrophic balance. Areas of high and low pressure anomalies in the atmosphere are surrounded by rotating flow caused by the balance between the pressure gradient and Coriolis forces. The direction of...
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Lec 15 - Convective storms

"Lec 15 - Convective storms" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) There are three main types of convective storms: airmass thunderstorms, severe thunderstorms and hurricanes. These storms are all driven by the release of latent heat into the atmosphere during condensation of water vapor. Severe thunderstorms include both squall line thunderstorms and tornados. They...
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Lec 16 - Frontal Cyclones

"Lec 16 - Frontal Cyclones" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) Mid-latitude frontal cyclones gain energy from temperature gradients rather than latent heat release as is the case with convective storms. They form in the belt of westerly winds and therefore generally move west to east in both the northern and southern hemispheres. A mid-latitude frontal cyclone...
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Lec 17 - Seasons and Climate

"Lec 17 - Seasons and Climate" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) There are several factors that impact climate on Earth. Different areas on Earth have different climates depending on factors such as their latitude and surrounding terrain. Maps of annual average precipitation illustrate these variations in climate. Continentality also affects climate based on the...
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Lec 18 - Seasons and Climate Classification

"Lec 18 - Seasons and Climate Classification" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) The seasonal cycle on Earth causes shifts in the bands of precipitation in the northern and southern hemispheres. The polar front shifts between high and mid-latitudes which causes a latitudinal shift in the occurrence of frontal cyclones. The Intertropical Convergence Zone also shifts...
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Lec 19 - Ocean Bathymetry and Water Prop ...

"Lec 19 - Ocean Bathymetry and Water Properties" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) Plate tectonics and ocean bathymetry are discussed. Bathymetry is the study of ocean depth, which is affected in some regions by plate tectonics and mantle dynamics. Mid-ocean ridges are formed at plate boundaries where mantle material is rising to the ocean crust and solidifying as...
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Lec 20 - Ocean Water Density and Atmosph ...

"Lec 20 - Ocean Water Density and Atmospheric Forcing" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) Stability in the ocean is based on the density of the water. Density must increase with depth in order for the ocean to be stable. Density is a function of both temperature and salinity, with cold salty water having a higher density than warm fresh water. Temperature and...
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Lec 21 - Ocean Currents

"Lec 21 - Ocean Currents "The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) The atmosphere forces the ocean in three ways: addition and removal of heat, precipitation and evaporation, and wind stress. The former two processes influence the density of sea water. Gravity acts on these density differences to cause large-scale thermohaline currents Wind driven ocean currents are...
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Lec 22 - Ocean Currents and Productivity

"Lec 22 - Ocean Currents and Productivity " The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) Ocean currents are generally divided into two categories: thermohaline currents and wind driven currents. Both types of currents are forced remotely rather than locally. Wind driven currents are initially forced by the wind stress causing water to pile up in certain locations. This...
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Lec 23 - l Niño

"Lec 23 - l Niño" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) The El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon is the primary mode of variability in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. It is composed of two extreme states, El Niño and La Niña. The oscillation between these states can be seen in measurements of sea surface temperature (SST), sea level pressure, thermocline...
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Lec 24 - Ice in the Climate System

"Lec 24 - Ice in the Climate System" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) Five types of ice in the climate system are discussed. Sea ice forms when ocean water reaches its freezing temperature of about -2°C. Sea ice is currently found in the Arctic Ocean and around Antarctica. Ice sheets form on land and are composed of compacted snow that has accumulated over...
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Lec 25 - Ice and climate change

"Lec 25 - Ice and climate change "The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) Ice on earth is sensitive to climate change and ice plays a role in climate change processes. Recent trends in the Greenland ice sheet provide an important example. Over the past two decades the extent of surface melt water on the ice sheet has increased. Inaddition, satellites have detected a...
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Lec 26 - Isotope Evidence for Climate Change

"Lec 26 - Isotope Evidence for Climate Change" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) Isotopes are used to measure past climate properties. Deuterium and oxygen 18 are the most commonly used climate proxies. Lighter isotopes evaporate more readily from the ocean, so water vapor in the atmosphere is isotopically lighter than ocean water. This vapor gets lighter still...
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Lec 27 - Global Warming

"Lec 27 - Global Warming" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) The issue of global warming is discussed. Recent climate change over the last half of the 20th century is thought to be driven largely by greenhouse gas emissions, with carbon dioxide playing a large role. The carbon cycle describes the reservoirs of carbon (atmosphere, terrestrial biomass and ocean) and...
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Lec 28 - Global Warming (continued)

"Lec 28 - Global Warming (continued) " The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) The current Holocene epoch is considered to be a time period of relatively stable climate compared to earlier geological periods. Still, some significant changes in temperature and sea level did occur. These climatic fluctuations include the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age, and...
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Lec 29 - Global Warming (continued)

"Lec 29 - Global Warming (continued)" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) Several greenhouse gas emissions scenarios have been developed by the IPCC to determine possible affects on atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations and related climate warming. The largest estimates show a carbon dioxide concentration of about 800ppmv by the year 2100. Lower estimates rise...
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Lec 30 - Climate Sensitivity and Human P ...

"Lec 30 - Climate Sensitivity and Human Population" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) Climate sensitivity is defined as either the temperature change resulting from a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration or the temperature change resulting from a 1W/m2 increase in radiative forcing. There are several different climate sensitivities that take into...
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Lec 31 - The Two Ozone Problems

"Lec 31 - The Two Ozone Problems" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) There are two ozone problems in the atmosphere. Tropospheric ozone in the form of photochemical smog is sometimes dangerously high whereas stratospheric ozone concentration is sometimes dangerously low. Photochemical smog is created through chemical reactions between UV radiation from the run and...
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Lec 32 - The Ozone Layer

"Lec 32 - The Ozone Layer" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) Stratospheric ozone is important as protection from harmful ultraviolet solar radiation. Ozone in the stratosphere blocks almost all UVC radiation, which is extremely energetic and harmful. Ozone within the ozone layer is destroyed through chemical reactions involving chlorine atoms and the ozone...
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Lec 33 - Energy Resources, Renewable Energy

"Lec 33 - Energy Resources, Renewable Energy" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) The various types of resources currently used for energy production are discussed. Energy is primarily used for heating, transportation, and generating electricity. Coal is burned largely to produce electricity and is a major contributor to air pollution with coal power plants emitting...
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Lec 34 - Renewable Energy

"Lec 34 - Renewable Energy" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) Renewable energy sources are discussed. These include wind energy, solar energy, biomass energy and geothermal energy. Energy from wind is acquired through the use of large wind turbines. These turbines ideally need to be located in areas where there is strong wind and low atmospheric turbulence....
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Lec 35 - Review and Overview

"Lec 35 - Review and Overview" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) The material covered throughout the course is reviewed. Properties of air and water are discussed. Hydrostatic balance is discussed as related to the atmosphere, ocean and solid earth. Geostrophic balance is a force balance between the Coriolis force and the pressure gradient force, and applies to...
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Lec Last - Lab Quinnipiac River Field Trip

"Lec Last - Lab Quinnipiac River Field Trip" The Atmosphere, the Ocean and Environmental Change (GG 140) The laboratory for GG 140 consists of five exercises during the semester where the students learn to observe the atmosphere and measure important physical quantities. For Open Yale Courses we present only one of these labs; the Quinnipiac River Field Trip. This field trip introduces the...

Atmosphere, Ocean and Environmental Change with Ron Smith


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This course explores the physical processes that control Earth's atmosphere, ocean, and climate. Quantitative methods for constructing mass and energy budgets. Topics include clouds, rain, severe storms, regional climate, the ozone layer, air pollution, ocean currents and productivity, the seasons, El Niño, the history of Earth's climate, global warming, energy, and water resources.
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