Clouds and Climate

The Romps Group at the University of California, Berkeley

EPS 290, Cloud Microphysics, Fall 2011


This course covers the processes that lead to the formation of cloud drops, ice particles, and rain. This "microphysics" influences the effect of clouds on Earth's radiation budget, determines whether or not a cloud precipitates, affects how strong a downpour can be, figures into our interpretation of radar maps, helps us interpret isotopic records of paleoclimate, and has been suggested as a lever with which to geoengineer our climate.

Tuesdays at 2:00
401 McCone Hall
Rogers and Yau (a good purchase, but assigned excerpts will be distributed)
Seminar format
We will use Rogers and Yau (A Short Course in Cloud Physics) as the main text. There will be a weekly reading assignment (usually just one of the chapters, which are short) and we will discuss the chapter at the weekly meeting. The discussion will be led by a volunteer who will walk us through the chapter. This will be our opportunity to solidify what we read, put it in context, and ask questions (of each other, not necessarily of the volunteer). The volunteer will have one more duty, and that will be to briefly describe a supplemental reading, which will inject some relevant current research into the discussion. To keep the workload manageable, only that week's volunteer must read the supplemental paper. Finally, the syllabus below is tentative: feedback is encouraged, and adjustments can be made to suit participants' interests.


8/30, Organizational meeting
  • Confirm meeting place and time
  • Overview of seminar format
  • Pick next week's discussion leader
9/6, Refresher on moist thermodynamics -- led by Nadir Jeevanjee
9/13, Parcel model of convection -- led by Kyle Pressel
9/20, In-situ observations -- led by Edwin Kite
  • Reading: Rogers and Yau, Chapter 5
  • Supplement: Gerber (2008) -- New insights from 1000-Hz measurements
  • Supplement: Section 3.1-3.3 of Baumgardner (2011) -- Overview of in situ cloud measurements
9/27, Liquid drop nucleation -- led by Daniele Rosa
10/4, Condensational growth -- led by Jesse Day
10/11, Collision-coalescence: continuum theory -- led by Kyongmin Yeo
10/18, Collision-coalescence: statistical theory -- led by Lindsey Nolan
10/25, Ice crystals -- led by David Romps
11/1, Lightning -- led by Jennifer Frederick
  • Reading: MacGorman and Rust, Chapters 1 and 3
  • Supplement: None; this is a long reading.
11/8, Rain and snow -- led by Percy Link
11/15, Radar -- led by Daniel Feldman
11/22, Microphysics of isotopologues
11/29, Geongineering through microphysics -- led by Lara Gunn
12/6, No class -- AGU
EPS 181, Atmospheric Physics and Dynamics, Fall 2011