Fundamentals of Atmospheric Physics

Fundamentals of Atmospheric Physics

1st Edition - May 13, 1996

Write a review

  • Author: Murry Salby
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080532158
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780126151602

Purchase options

Purchase options
DRM-free (PDF)
Sales tax will be calculated at check-out

Institutional Subscription

Free Global Shipping
No minimum order


Fundamentals of Atmospheric Physics emphasizes the interrelationships of physical and dynamical meteorology. The text unifies four major subject areas: atmospheric thermodynamics, hydrostatic equilibrium and stability, atmospheric radiation and clouds, and atmospheric dynamics. These fundamental areas serve as cornerstones of modern atmospheric research on environmental issues like global change and ozone depletion. Physical concepts underlying these subject areas are developed from first principles, providing a self-contained text for students and scholars from diverse backgrounds. The presentation is Lagrangian (single-body problems) in perspective, with a balance of theory and application. Each chapter includes detailed and extensive problems; selected answers are provided, as are appendices of various constants. The text requires a thorough foundation in calculus.

Key Features

  • Presents a comprehensive introduction to atmospheric thermodynamics, hydrostatics, radiation and clouds, and dynamics
  • Develops concepts from first principles, providing a self-contained volume for readers from diverse backgrounds
  • Emphasizes the interaction of physical processes shaping global problems of atmospheric energetics, transport, and chemistry
  • Provides a balance of theory and applications, with examples drawn from a wide range of phenomena figuring in global atmospheric research
  • Extensively illustrated with global satellite imagery and analyses and photographs of laboratory simulations
  • Exercises apply to a wide range of topical problems


First-year graduate students entering atmospheric or planetary science with diverse backgrounds in physics, chemistry, mathematics, or engineering, but not necessarily having formal training in thermodynamics, radiation, and fluid mechanics. The material can be digested by undergraduate seniors with similar preparation

Table of Contents

  • A Global View: Introduction to the Atmosphere. Composition and Structure. Radiative Equilibrium of the Planet. The Global Energy Budget. The General Circulation. Thermodynamics of Gases: Thermodynamic Concepts. TheFirst Law. Heat Capacity. Adiabatic Processes. Diabatic Processes. The Second Law and Its Implications: Natural and Reversible Processes. Entropy and the Second Law. Restricted Forms of the Second Law. The Fundamental Relations. Conditions for Thermodynamic Equilibrium. Relationship of Entropy to Potential Temperature. Heterogeneous Systems: Description of a Heterogeneous System. Chemical Equilibrium. Fundamental Relations for a Multicomponent System. Thermodynamic Degrees of Freedom. Thermodynamic Characteristics of Water. Equilibrium Phase Transformations. Transformations of Moist Air: Description of Moist Air. Implications for the Distribution of Water Vapor. State Variables of the Two-Component System. Thermodynamic Behavior Accompanying Vertical Motion. The Pseudo-Adiabatic Chart.
    Hydrostatic Equilibrium: Effective Gravity. Geopotential Coordinates. Hydrostatic Balance. Stratification. Lagrangian Interpretation of Stratification. Hydrostatic Stability: Reaction to Vertical Displacement. Stability Categories. Implications for Vertical Motion. Finite Displacements. Stabilizing and Destabilizing Influences. Turbulent Dispersion. Atmospheric Radiation: Shortwave and Longwave Radiation. Description of Radiative Transfer. Absorption Characteristics of Gases. Radiative Transfer in a Plane Parallel Atmosphere. Thermal Equilibrium. Thermal Relaxation. The Greenhouse Effect. Aerosol and Clouds: Morphology of Atmospheric Aerosol. Microphysics of Clouds. Macroscopic Characteristics of Clouds. Radiative Transfer in Aerosol and Cloud. Roles of Clouds and Aerosol in Climate. Atmospheric Motion: Descriptions of Atmospheric Motion. Kinematics of Fluid Motion. The Material Derivative. Reynolds Transport Theorem. Conservation of Mass. The Momentum Budget. The First Law of Thermodynamics. Atmospheric Equations of Motion: Curvilinear Coordinates. Spherical Coordinates. Special Forms of Motion. Prevailing Balances. Thermodynamic Coordinates. Large-Scale Motion:Geostrophic Equilibrium. Vertical Shear of the Geostrophic Wind. Frictional Geostrophic Motion. Curvilinear Motion. Weakly Divergent Motion. The Planetary Boundary Layer: Description of Turbulence. Structure of the Boundary Layer. Influence of Stratification. Ekman Pumping. Atmospheric Waves: Description of Wave Propagation. Acoustic Waves. Buoyancy Waves. The Lamb Wave. Rossby Waves. Wave Absorption. Nonlinear Considerations. The General Circulation: Forms of Atmospheric Energy. Heat Transfer in an Axisymmetric Circulation. Heat Transfer in a Laboratory Analogue. Tropical Circulations. Hydrodynamic Instability: Inertial Instability. Shear Instability. The Eady Problem. Nonlinear Considerations. The Middle Atmosphere: Ozone Photochemistry. Involvement of Other Species. Air Motion. Sudden Stratospheric Warmings. The Quasi-Biennial Oscillation. Direct Interactions with the Troposphere. Heterogeneous Chemical Reactions. Appendix A: Conversion to SI Units. Appendix B:Thermodynamic Properties of Air and Water. Appendix C: Physical Constants. Appendix D: Vector Identities. Appendix E: Curvilinear Coordinates. Appendix F: Pseudo-Adiabatic Chart. References. Answers to Selected Problems. Subject Index.

Product details

  • No. of pages: 648
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 1996
  • Published: May 13, 1996
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080532158
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780126151602

About the Author

Murry Salby

Murry L. Salby is a climate scientist and former chair of climate at Macquarie University, where he worked from 2008 to 2013. He has written two textbooks, Fundamentals of Atmospheric Physics (1996), and Physics of the Atmosphere and Climate (2011), the latter building on his first book, offers an overview of the processes controlling the atmosphere of Earth, weather, energetics, and climate physics. He has also authored over a hundred referenced articles in scientific journals.

Salby got his Bachelors in aerospace engineering in 1973, and his PhD in environmental dynamics from Georgia Tech in 1978, including a Sigma Xi: The Scientific Research Society doctoral research award. He began as an assistant professor at University of Colorado Boulder's Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences in 1984, became an associate professor in 1985, and professor in 1991, gaining tenure in 1998, before resigning in 2007. He has also held positions as a visiting professor and scientist at institutions in the U.S., Sweden, Australia, France, and Israel. He became professor of environmental science at Macquarie University, and worked there from 2008-2013.

1978-1980. Fellow, Advanced Study Program, National Center for Atmospheric Research. Independent research.

1980-1982. Scientist, Global Observations, Modeling and Optical Techniques Project, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Pure and applied research in conjunction with remotely sensed fields derived from Nimbus-6 LRIR, and Nimbus-7 LIMS. See High Resolution Dynamics Limb Sounder.

1982-1984. Visiting scientist, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Program, Princeton University. Independent research.

1984-1985. Assistant professor, Department of Astrophysical, Planetary, and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Colorado.

1985-1990. Associate professor, Department of Astrophysical, Planetary, and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Colorado.

1986-1999. Director, Center for Atmospheric Theory and Analysis, University of Colorado.

1988-2002. Affiliate scientist, Atmospheric Systems and Analysis.

1987. Visiting professor, Meteorological Institute, University of Stockholm, Stockholm, Sweden.

1990-1991. Lady Davis visiting professor, Department of Atmospheric Science, Institute of Earth Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.

1991-2007. Professor, Department of Astrophysical, Planetary, and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Colorado.

1997. Visiting senior scientist, Centre Nationale Researches Scientifique/University of Paris, Paris France.

1998. Visiting scientist, Bureau of Meteorology Research Center, Melbourne Australia.

2000. Visiting scientist, Center for Ocean Land and Atmosphere, Washington DC.

2007. Visiting scientist, Bureau of Meteorology Research Center, Melbourne Australia.

2008-2013. Professor of Environmental Science, Macquarie University.

Affiliations and Expertise

University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado

About the Series Editors

Roger Pielke

Affiliations and Expertise

Colorado State University at Fort Collins, USA

Renata Dmowska

Renata Dmowska works in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, USA.

Affiliations and Expertise

School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

Ratings and Reviews

Write a review

There are currently no reviews for "Fundamentals of Atmospheric Physics"