Chemistry and Physics of the Atmosphere
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleNWI-NB046C
Credits (ECTS)3
CategoryBA (Bachelor)
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Science; Wiskunde, Natuur- en Sterrenkunde;
dr. S. Brünken
Other course modules lecturer
dr. S. Brünken
Other course modules lecturer
Contactperson for the course
dr. S. Brünken
Other course modules lecturer
dr. S. Brünken
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2023
KW2  (06/11/2023 to 28/01/2024)
Starting block
Course mode
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesYes
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-
After this course, you are able to:
  • predict the pressure and temperature behavior in our atmosphere
  • describe the (photo-)chemical reactions involved in ozone formation and destruction
  • apply concepts of simple climate models to atmospheric transport and chemistry
  • estimate the effects of greenhouse gas concentrations on radiation transport and on the Earth’s temperature
  • describe the effects of aerosols
  • name and discuss the energy and climate problem
  • critically discuss human-made influences on climate
In planetary atmospheres like Earth's, many physical and chemical processes play a role. These processes result in temperature and pressure gradients, wind patterns, and the chemical composition of the atmosphere. With this course, physics, chemistry (MLW) and natural sciences students are able to make sound judgments on the changes in our atmosphere upon natural and human induced changes such as solar activity, aerosol, and greenhouse gas concentrations. The contents of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report is directly and indirectly a source of inspiration. Part of the lecture course is a visit to KNMI.
Topics that will be covered include:
  • Basic quantities describing atmospheric composition
  • How is Earth´s atmosphere different from those of other planets?
  • Pressure and temperature distribution in the atmosphere
  • Atmospheric transport
  • Geochemical cycles
  • The greenhouse effect
  • Aerosols
  • Stratospheric chemistry: formation and destruction of ozone
  • Tropospheric chemistry: the reducing atmosphere
Instructional Modes

This courses consists of weekly lectures and tutorials. I will provide additional, often news-worthy, reading material for the course on Brightspace to read at home. The tutorials consist of hands-on exercises applying the concepts you learned in the lecture, and we will also  use python to set-up simple climate models.

Presumed foreknowledge
You should be able to follow this introductory course without much foreknowledge. However, some basics in mechanics, molecular physics and reaction kinetics are helpful.
Test information
  • Written Exam
  • Specifics
    A visit with lectures to the KNMI is normally part of the course

    This course fits in the research theme Atom- and Molecular Physics
    Required materials
    Main textbook followed in this course, providing a concise view on basic principles of physics and chemistry of the atmosphere. Free online version available: https://acmg.seas.harvard.edu/education/introduction-atmospheric-chemistry Updated version (partly done): https://acmg.seas.harvard.edu/education/2nd-edition
    Title:Introduction to Atmospheric Chemistry
    Author:Daniel J. Jacob
    Publisher:Princeton University Press

    Recommended materials
    Comprehensive textbook providing more detail on Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics
    Title:Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics: From Air Pollution to Climate Change, 3rd Edition
    Author:John H. Seinfeld & Spyros N. Pandis
    Professional texts
    The 6th Assesment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Working Group 1: Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/

    Instructional modes
    Course occurrence

    Sustainability certificate
    Attendance MandatoryYes

    Test weight1
    Test typeExam
    OpportunitiesBlock KW2, Block KW3