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University of Wisconsin–Madison

AOS Course Listing

UW–Madison course guide
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Courses for Non-Majors

The following courses are open to lower division undergraduates, including freshman.
AOS 100: Weather & Climate (3 credits) Nature and variability of wind, temperature, cloud and precipitation. Storm system, fronts, thunderstorms, tornadoes and their prediction. Air composition and pollution. Global winds, seasonal changes, climate and climatic change. Includes map analyses and basic quantitative lab exercises.

AOS 101: Weather & Climate (4 credits) Nature and variability of wind, temperature, cloud and precipitation. Storm system, fronts, thunderstorms, tornadoes and their prediction. Air composition and pollution. Global winds, seasonal changes, climate and climatic change. Includes map analyses and basic quantitative lab exercises.

AOS 102: Climate and Climate Change (3 credits) This course describes the basic climate principles governing the climate system. It describes the climate and climate variability at present, climate evolution in the past, and the projected climate change into the future. The scientific principles underlying the natural and antropogenic greenhouse effect and climate model forecasts are elucidated.

AOS 105: Survey of Oceanography (3-4 credits) Nature and behavior of ocean water, interaction of oceans and atmosphere, structure of the ocean floor, life in the oceans, our relationship to the marine environment.

AOS 132: Earth’s Water: Natural Science and Human Use (3 credits) (Same as Soil Science 132). Water is central to the functioning of planet Earth. As humans increase their impact on Earth’s systems and cohabitants, our understanding of the multiple roles of water becomes critical to finding sustainable strategies for human and ecosystem health. This course explores the science of Earth’s hydrosphere, with constant attention to human uses and impacts.

AOS 140: Natural Hazards and Disasters (3 credits). An exploration of the science behind natural disasters including earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, landslides, tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods. Why, where, and when do these events occur, and why are some predictable but others are not? Addresses hazard assessment, forecasting, and mitigation to lessen their impact on society.

AOS 141: Natural Hazards of Weather (2 credits). Explores the basic science of weather hazards ongoing around the globe and practical issues of Prediction, Risk Reduction, Resilience and Vulnerability (PRRRV) associated with these hazards.

AOS 171: Global Change: Atmospheric Issues and Problems (2-3 credits) Atmospheric problems of global significance. Greenhouse warming, ozone layer, acid rain, climate change. Study based on elementary principles of atmospheric science. Systems approach applied to changing atmospheric composition. Interactions among geochemical cycles, anthropogenic inputs and other parts of the environment. Comm B course.

AOS 201: Explorations of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (2-3 credits) Exploration of a field within atmospheric and oceanic sciences. Exposure to scientific principles, current findings, and career routes as it applies to topics such as meteorology, weather systems and weather forecasting, climate and climate change, atmospheric satellite remote sensing, oceanography, and professional careers in the discipline.

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Courses for AOS Majors

These courses are intended for students majoring in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, and for other interested students with a background in the physical sciences.

AOS 310: Dynamics of the Atmosphere and Ocean I (3 credits) Introduction to theory of fluid motions for atmosphere and ocean. Elementary kinematics, fundamental forces, effects of earth’s gravity and rotation, concepts and applications of hydrostatic and geostrophic balance.

AOS 311: Dynamics of the Atmosphere and Ocean II (3 credits) Intermediate theory of fluid motions for atmosphere and ocean. Emphasis on large-scale applications and basic theory for geophysical wave types. Thermal wind shear, frictional flow, vorticity concepts, Rossby waves, Sverdrup ocean flow.

AOS 322: Polar Regions and Their Importance in the Global Environment (3 credits) Reviews the past, present, and future of the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Covers the history, geography, atmospheric and ocean circulations, permafrost, ice sheets, glaciers, and future state of the Arctic and Antarctica as projected by earth system models. Also explores the role of the polar regions in the earth’s system and associated global climatic feedbacks.

AOS 323: Science of Climate Change (3 credits) This is a calculus-based treatment of climate stem physics and the mechanisms of modern day anthropogenic climate change. By the end of this course, students will understand: a. How solar radiation and rotating fluid dynamics determine the basic climate state; b. Mechanisms of natural variability and change in climate; c. Why anthropogenic climate change is occurring; and d. Which scientific uncertainties are most important to estimates of 21st century change.

AOS 330: Physics of the Atmosphere and Ocean I (3 credits) Physical variables, laws, characteristics and direct measurements for atmosphere and ocean. Thermodynamics and moist atmospheric processes. Basic physics of clouds, precipitation, and chemical constituents.

AOS 331: Climate Environments of the Past (3 credits) Climate trends and patterns of the most recent 10,000 years are examined. Studies are based upon a wide variety of surrogate climatic information.

AOS 332: Global Warming: Science and Impacts (3 credits) Climate change is underway and will continue into the foreseeable future. This course offers a fundamental understanding of how and why global warming is happening, and what to expect in the future. Together, we will investigate and discuss the evidence for change, the science that explains these observations, predicted impacts on humans and ecosystems, and the societal debate over proposed solutions.

AOS 335: Climatic Environments of the Past (3 credits) Climate change at timescales from the last several million years to the last 100 years, with emphasis on more recent timescales. Examines how climate variability arises from interplay between external forcings, feedbacks within the earth system, and (more recently) human activity.

AOS 340: Physics of the Atmosphere and Ocean II (3 credits) Radiation, energy budget and remote sensing of atmosphere and upper ocean. Scattering, absorption, emission and diabatic heating by shortwave and longwave processes. Remote sensing techniques and applications, including passive satellite soundings and active radar probes.

AOS 355: Introduction to Air Quality (3 credits) Links chemistry and meteorology to engineering, law, policy, and public health. Presents key ideas in air quality, with focus on reactive pollutants in the outdoor environment, especially gas and particle phase chemicals that react with human tissue to cause sickness and death. Discusses environmental impacts of these pollutants and regulatory approaches for their control in the U.S. and around the world. Indoor air quality will be included. Non-reactive pollutants, especially carbon dioxide, will be compared and contrasted with reactive air pollutants.

AOS 401: Topics in Meteorology (2-3 credits) Special topics to be given as the need and opportunity arise.

AOS 404: Meteorological Measurements (2 credits) Practical experience in planning experiment implementation, performing instrument quality control, conducting computational data analysis, and writing and presenting of meteorological and climatological observations in a team setting.

AOS 405: AOS Senior Capstone Seminar (1 credit) Required senior seminar for AOS majors provides a synthesis and overview. Research on a topic of the student’s choosing is presented at the end.

AOS 425: Global Climate Processes (3 credits) Overview of physical processes of the atmosphere and its coupling to the ocean and land. Understanding its seasonal climatology and variability. Synthesis through application of junior AOS core dynamics and physics to quantitatively understand diabatic, transport and dissipative processes. Examples include global warming, air-ocean coupling, ENSO, ozone hole, tropospheric water and chemistry issues, diurnal to interannual time scales.

AOS 441: Radar and Satellite Meteorology (3 credits) Provides necessary knowledge about radar and satellite meteorology, instrumentation, and data analysis.

AOS 452: Synoptic Lab I: The Frontal Cyclone (4 credits) Cyclone and frontal theory; case studies illustrating the structure and evolution of the frontal cyclone; diagnostic techniques: interpretation of satellite photographs, preparation of vertical cross sections and isentropic analysis.

AOS 453: Synoptic Lab II: Mesoscale Meteorology (4 credits) Local wind systems, thunderstorms, mesoscale convection systems, interactions with synoptic scale weather. Analysis, prediction, nowcasting and observation of mesoscale weather, including interpretation of satellite and radar information.

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Courses for Graduate Students

AOS 520: Bioclimatology (3 credits) How climate systems and biological organisms operate and interact at the global scale and the implications of this for climate change, ecosystem ecology and human land use.

AOS 522: Tropical Meteorology (3 credits) Characteristics of the tropical atmosphere; local and diurnal phenomena; tropical synoptic systems; circulation and energetics; mechanisms of tropical climate variations.

AOS 528: Past Climates and Climatic Change (2 credits) Climatic change throughout geologic time, especially the last 10 millennia; mechanics of change, evidence, and criteria, paleography and paleoclimatology, climate models.

AOS 532: Environmental Biophysics (3 credits) Plant-environment interactions with particular reference to energy exchanges and water relations. Models are used to provide a quantitative synthesis of information from plant physiology, soil physics, and micrometeorology with some consideration of plant-pest interactions.

AOS 535: Atmospheric Dispersion and Air Pollution (3 credits) Physical principles of atmospheric transport processes. Variation of transport in time and place. Local and regional concentrations of pollutants. Environmental implications of air pollution and control strategies.

AOS 573: Computational Methods in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (3 credits) An introduction to multiple programming languages and technical computing methods used in the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. Data analysis methods and software development for specialized applications related to the field are also highlighted.

AOS 575: Climatological Analysis (3-4 credits) Mathematical and statistical tools applicable to the investigation of meteorological problems: nature and treatment of meteorological data.

AOS 610: Geophysical Fluid Dynamics I (3 credits) Basic dynamic concepts: equations of motion, basic approximations, Coriolis force, wave motions, normal modes, gravity waves, frictional, turbulence and convective processes, geostrophic adjustments, scaling argument, effects of rotation on wave motions. Vorticity and potential vorticity.

AOS 611: Geophysical Fluid Dynamics II (3 credits) Quasi-geostrophic motion, potential vorticity equations, E-P fluxes, Rossby waves, boundary layer processes, wind- driven ocean circulation and western boundary currents, barotropic and baroclinic instability, tropical flows.

AOS 615: Laboratory in Rotating Fluid Dynamics (1 credit) Rotating fluid experiments, theory and data analysis are used to deepen understanding of geophysical fluid dynamics and observed phenomena in the atmosphere and ocean. Focuses on hands-on experiences in the rotating tank lab and with real data.

AOS 630: Introduction to Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics (3 credits) Covers thermodynamics theory of multiphase systems, thermodynamic analysis of atmosphere, microphysical processes in the atmosphere, atmospheric and oceanic chemical processes, conduction of heat and moisture into the atmosphere from ocean and land surface.

AOS 637: Cloud Physics (3-4 credits) Processes of cloud formation, growth, and dissipation from the standpoint of both the cloud particles and the whole cloud as a dynamic entity.

AOS 638: Atmospheric Chemistry (3 credits) Evolution of the atmosphere, chemical structure, instrumental analysis, trace gases, aerosol mechanics, chemical processes.

AOS 640: Radiation in the Atmosphere and Ocean (3 credits) Introduction to radiation: basic laws, radiative transfer under clear sky conditions, scattering by individual particles, multiple scattering, radiative properties of clouds and aerosols, energy budget, miscellaneous applications.

AOS 651: Synoptic-Dynamic Laboratory (3 credits) Quantitative lab applications of atmospheric dynamics and thermodynamics to synoptic systems. Jet stream systems, cyclone development, global air motions, performance of numerical prediction models, local surface forecasting.

AOS 660: Introduction to Physical Oceanography (3 credits) Physical properties of sea water: ocean climatology, water, salt and heat budget, measurement, ocean circulation and water mass of the world ocean, thermocline, thermohaline, equatorial and southern ocean.

AOS 681: Senior Honors Thesis (3 credits) Individual mentored study for seniors completing theses for Honors in the Major as arranged with a faculty member.

AOS 682: Senior Honors Thesis (3 credits) Individual mentored study for seniors completing theses for Honors in the Major as arranged with a faculty member.

AOS 691: Senior Thesis (2-3 credits) Individual mentored study for seniors completing theses, as arranged with a faculty member.

AOS 692: Senior Thesis (2-3 credits) Individual mentored study for seniors completing theses, as arranged with a faculty member.

AOS 698: Directed Study (1-5 credits) Independent study as arranged with a faculty member.

AOS 699: Directed Study (1-5 credits) Independent study as arranged with a faculty member.

AOS 701: The Chemistry of Air Pollution (2 credits) Covers background and modern research methods for the application of chemical analysis tools to understanding of the origin, composition, and the chemical transformations of pollutants that occur in the atmosphere. Emphasis will be directed at the pollutants impacting human health, climate change, and ecosystem degradation. Approximately half of the course materials will be taken from the scientific literature and will provide the opportunity to advance skills in the critical reading of journal articles. The course is directed at graduate students conducting research and interested in air pollution and environmental chemistry. Gain experiences in presenting scientific research methods and results related to course materials.

AOS 705: The Middle Atmosphere (3 credits) Dynamics, chemistry and radiation of the stratosphere and mesosphere. Structure and composition. Observing techniques. Gravity, Rossby, and Kelvin waves. Wave-mean flow interaction. Instabilities. Tracer transport. Modeling the middle atmosphere. Ozone layer. Greenhouse effect.

AOS 712: General Circulation of the Atmosphere (3 credits) The theory of the general circulation with emphasis on the sources, sinks, and transports of mass, angular momentum, and energy that serve to maintain the circumpolar vortex.

AOS 718: Dynamics of Moist Convective Systems (3 credits) Governing equations for non-hydrostatic dynamics, mixed phase thermodynamics and microphysics. Cumulus parameterization and scale interactions. Application to theoretical and numerical models of thunderstorms (and attendant weather phenomena) and Mesoscale Convective Systems in the extra tropics and tropics.

AOS 745: Meteorological Satellite Applications (2-3 credits) Use of satellite imagery and measurements in meteorological research and operations: orbital characteristics, navigation, instrumentation, remote sensing techniques.

AOS 750: Problems in Oceanography (3 credits) Introduction to techniques used in the study of the biology, chemistry, geology, and physics of the marine environment.

AOS 751: The Frontal Cyclone (3 credits) Application of fundamental dynamics and thermodynamics to cyclone and frontal theory; case studies illustrating the structure and evolution of the frontal cyclone; diagnostic consideration of vertical motions, frontogenesis and potential inversion; computational analysis of fundamental diagnostic equations, analysis of vertical cross sections.

AOS 753: Mesoscale Meteorology (3 credits) Synthesizes the fundamentals of atmospheric dynamics, thermodynamics and microphysics to explain the theory behind the structure, evolution and prediction of microscale, mesoscale and cloud scale weather. Learn the dynamics, and thermodynamics of mesoscale, fogs, cumulus, and severe storms (including tornadoes), mountain meteorology and convective tropical weather systems (including hurricanes and typhoons) and application of multi-scale numerical methods and models for analysis and prediction.

AOS 760: Large-Scale Ocean-Atmosphere Coupling (3 credits) Various aspects of global ocean-atmosphere coupling and climate variability; global surface flux distribution; mixed layer dynamics; tropical dynamics and El Nino and Southern Oscillation; extratropical ocean-atmosphere coupling; interannual to interdecadel climate variability.

AOS 773: Boundary Layer Meteorology (3 credits) Observations of and theories for boundary layers, turbulence, spectra, plumes, dust devils, convection, terrain effects, and other phenomena in the lowest 2 km of the atmosphere.

AOS 801: Topics in Theoretical Meteorology (2-3 credits) Advanced level subjects in dynamics, synoptics, climate-dynamics and atmospheric physics including recent advances.

AOS 810: Practical Training in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences I (1 credit) Practical training in atmospheric and oceanic sciences provides direct hands-on exposure to careers in the discipline. Placement into student-designed or an existing internship in atmospheric and oceanic science related companies, agencies, and organizations. The first of a two course sequence gets students set up in their internship and provides professional development.

AOS 811: Practical Training in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences II (2 credits) Practical training in atmospheric and oceanic sciences provides direct hands-on exposure to careers in the discipline. This second of a two-course sequence continues the internship in atmospheric and oceanic science related companies, agencies, and organizations. Students will develop a portfolio of items necessary for the American Meteorological Society Certified Consulting Meteorology exam.

AOS 900: Seminar - Meteorology (1-2 credits) Discussion of the philosophy of science, communication, and history of atmospheric and oceanic science topics.

AOS 911: Limnology and Marine Science Seminar (1 credit) Sections in various fields of zoological research.

AOS 925: Seminar - Climatology (1-2 credits) Historical climatology with emphasis on the last few centuries. Prereq: Grad St.

AOS 953: Introduction to Ecology Research at UW-Madison (1-2 credits) Introduces new graduate students to the diversity of ecologists across the UW-Madison campus. Includes discussions of key topics in professional development, research presentations by faculty members, and discussions of assigned papers with senior graduate students.

AOS 965: Seminar - Oceanography (1-2 credits) Advanced topics in oceanography.

AOS 980: Seminar - Earth-System Science (1 credit) Topics in earth system science. Emphasis on the coupling between atmospheric, oceanic and land surface systems, involving physical geochemical and biological processes, and including interactions with human systems.

AOS 990: Research (1-12 credits) Research with atmospheric and oceanic science faculty advisors.

AOS 999: Advanced Independent Study (1-6 credits) Advanced independent study as arranged with a faculty member.

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