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Atmospheric Physics Concentration


In its simplest form, 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 budget, and energy transfer processes in the atmosphere (as well as how these tie into other systems such as the 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. As a consequence, atmospheric physics 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.

The College of Charleston is one of the few institutions which offers an undergraduate program in atmospheric physics. With the growing demand to understand the science of climate change along with the interdisciplinary nature of modern atmospheric science research, there is growing demand for programs which integrate atmospheric science and traditional physics. The Atmospheric Physics Concentration is for physics students who have an ultimate goal of attending graduate school in atmospheric science, atmospheric physics, and/or meteorology. Moreover, this concentration is designed for students who desire to pursue more research-oriented jobs in the atmospheric sciences in research institutions like the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).


The Atmospheric Physics Concentration within the Physics B.S. degree will consist of 18 hours (9 core credits and 9 elective credits). Students will fulfill the requirements for a Concentration in Atmospheric Physics if they complete the following coursework, in addition to that required for the B.S. in Physics .

Core Courses (9 credits):

1. PHYS 405 (Thermal Physics) (3 cr.)
2. PHYS 415 (Fluid Mechanics) (3 cr.)
3. PHYS 459 (Cloud and Precipitation Physics) (3 cr.)

Electives (9+ credits):

1. ASTR 306 (Planetary Astronomy) (3 cr.)
2. ENVT 352* (Special Topics in Environmental Science and Studies) (1-4 cr.)
3. GEOL 442 (Geological Application of Remote Sensing) (4 cr.)
4. GEOL 449 (Geographical Information Systems) (4 cr.)
5. HONS 390* (Special Topics) (3-6 cr.)
6. PHYS 210 (Introduction to Air Pollution (3 cr.)
7. PHYS 215 (Synoptic Meteorology) (3 cr.)
8. PHYS 225 (Climate) (3 cr.)
9. PHYS 298* (Special Topics) (1-3 cr.)
10. PHYS 320 (Intro to Electronics) (4 cr.)
11. PHYS 340 (Photonics) (4 cr.)
12. PHYS 350 (Energy Production) (4 cr.)
13. PHYS 381* (Internship) (1-4 cr.)
14. PHYS 390* (Research) (1-3 cr.)
15. PHYS 394/394L (Digital Signal and Image Processing with Biomedical Applications) (4 cr.)
16. PHYS 399* (Tutorial) (3 cr.)
17. PHYS 410 (Electricity and Magnetism 2) (3 cr.)
18. PHYS 412* (Special Topics) (1-3 cr.)
19. PHYS 420* (Senior Research (3 cr.)
20. PHYS 425 (Mesoscale Meteorology) (3 cr.)
21. PHYS 457 (Satellite Meteorology) (3 cr.)

* = topics in these courses must involve atmospheric physics and must be approved by the department