Program Overview


What is Atmospheric Science?

Atmospheric science is the study of the physics of meteorological processes, including general circulation of the atmosphere and weather systems, mass and energy transfers at the planetary surface and within the atmosphere, solar and terrestrial radiation, turbulence and diffusion, atmospheric interaction with the biosphere, climate variations, air pollution meteorology, atmospheric chemistry, and developments in modern meteorological instrumentation.

Atmospheric science is based on applied mathematical physics, and is strongly relevant to environmental biology and human ecology. The course of study provides a mathematical and physical science background. In addition to a broad background in meteorology, the major includes a minor area to be chosen from mathematics, computer science, environmental studies, resource management or a physical or biological science.

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A Brief History of the Program

During the late 1930s, Climatology was the first coursework offered in Atmospheric Science. Initial research focused on frost protection of citrus and other fruit and nut crops, and a single individual, H. Schultz, conducted the program. The modern Atmospheric Science major was first offered in the mid-1960s when Coulson, Myrup and Carroll joined the faculty. The graduate program in Atmospheric Science was initiated in 1972 and, in 1975, the core part of the program moved into Hoagland Hall.

The Atmospheric Science faculty conduct diverse teaching, research, and outreach programs that can be applied to important environmental issues. Early research included studies of radiative transfer and boundary layer meteorology. Modern remote sensing techniques rely in part on the early research of Coulson. More recent research on agricultural burning has resulted in residue handling and field burning techniques that have greatly reduced smoke production.

Current sectional research is focused on climate dynamics and climate change, air quality, atmospheric chemistry, biometeorology, and medium and large-scale atmospheric dynamics. Research using an instrumented aircraft has enhanced studies of pollutant transport to remote areas.

Since 1890, the University of California has operated a climate station through a cooperative agreement with what is now the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The station, originally located on the main campus, has been situated in the experimental field 1 km west of the main campus since 1964.


Internships and Career Alternatives

Atmospheric science students have participated in internships with the California Air Resources Board, various county Air Pollution Control Districts, and the National Weather Service. Numerous career opportunities exist in the federal and state governments, research and development in the private sector, and education. Examples of career areas are agricultural meteorology, air-pollution forecasting and control, weather modification, hurricane and severe weather forecasting and research, weather satellite meteorology, and numerical weather forecasting. About half of our graduates continue their education by seeking the M.S. or Ph.D. degrees in atmospheric science.



The Atmospheric Science group is at the University of California, Davis in Davis, California.

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