Introduction to Atmospheric and Space Sciences

By Prof. MV Sunil Krishna   |   IIT Roorkee
Learners enrolled: 1001
This course introduces the basics of Earth’s atmosphere to graduate and post-graduate students.It starts from the evolution of atmosphere and gives understanding of various physical and chemical processes responsible for the observed changes we see in weather and climate. It gives a comprehensive understanding of neutral atmosphere, ionosphere and various plasma processes. This course will introduce the fundamentals of the various interrelations in atmospheric and space physics, the basic scientific methods and techniques.

INTENDED AUDIENCE : M.Sc (Physics), MSc (Chemistry),
                                                MSc (Mathematics),
M.Tech (Atmospheric Science),
                                                B.Tech (Civil), B.Tech (Mechanical),
PREREQUISITES : BSc level Physics / B.Tech (I) level Physics course
Course Status : Completed
Course Type : Elective
Duration : 12 weeks
Category :
  • Physics
Credit Points : 3
Level : Undergraduate/Postgraduate
Start Date : 23 Jan 2023
End Date : 14 Apr 2023
Enrollment Ends : 06 Feb 2023
Exam Registration Ends : 17 Mar 2023
Exam Date : 29 Apr 2023 IST

Note: This exam date is subjected to change based on seat availability. You can check final exam date on your hall ticket.

Page Visits

Course layout

Week 1 : Atmospheric evolution, solar radiation, present day atmospheric constituents, various stages in the evolution of earth’s atmosphere, formation of ozone, carbon budget, oxygen chemistry and life on earth.
Week 2 : Variation of temperature with height, density and ionization with altitude, classification of atmosphere based on temperature and pressure, hydrostatic equation, hypsometric equation
Week 3 : Fundamental forces, non-inertial forces, momentum equations governing the motions in atmosphere, curvature effect, various scales of atmospheric motions.
Week 4 : Hydrostatic equilibrium, hypsometric equation, geopotential height, thermodynamic system, equilibrium state, stability, gas laws, Avogadro hypothesis, gas constant, dry air, mixture of gases, mean molecular mass, humidity variables, moist air, virtual temperature
Week 5 : Enthalpy, adiabatic processes, air parcel, mixing ratio and specific humidity, saturation vapor pressure, relative humidity, dew point, frost point, lifting condensation level, wet-bulb temperature, latent heats
Week 6 : Pseudo-adiabatic processes, equivalent potential temperature, parcel lapse rates, convection of air, collision and coalescence processes, cloud formation, ascent of clouds and types, cloud morphology, cloud classification
Week 7 : Atmospheric stability conditions, Brunt-vaisala frequency, stable, unstable and neutral atmosphere
Week 8 : Cloud seeding and precipitation, Droplet growth, curvature effect and solute effect, radial growth of droplets by diffusion
Week 9 : Earth’s upper atmosphere, Ionosphere, various layers and chemistry of ionosphere, types of reactions, Chapman's theory of layer production
Week 10 : Hydrogen in ionosphere, Debye's shielding and Debye's potential
Week 11 : Particle motion in uniform electric field, particle motion in uniform magnetic field and guiding center, particle motion in gradient magnetic fields
Week 12 : Gradient drift and curvature drift, vacuum drift and planetary ring current, magnetic mirroring and loss cone, airglow and aurora.

Books and references

1.Seeds M.A., “Solar System”, Brooks/Cole Thomson Learning 2007
2.Houghton J.T. “Physics of Atmosphere”, Cambridge Univ. Press 2002
3.Rogers R R, “A Short Course in Cloud Physics”, Pergamon Press 1989
4.Anastasios A. Tsonis., “An Introduction to Atmospheric Thermodynamics”, Cambridge University Press 2007
5.Pruppacher, H.R. & J.D. Klett, “Microphysics of Cloud and Precipitation”, Springer 2010
6. H.J. Critchfield, “General Climatology”, Prentice-Hall of India. 1994
7. Murray L. Salby , Fundamentals of Atmospheric Physics, Academic Press. 1996
8. Ratcliffe, J.A, “An Introduction to Ionosphere and Magnetosphere”, Cambridge University Press 1972
9. Chen F F, “Introduction to Plasma Physics”, Plenum Press New York 1990
10. John M. Wallace and Peter. V. Hobbs, Atmospheric science and introductory survey, International Geophysical Series, volume 92, Academic Press,

Instructor bio

Prof. MV Sunil Krishna

IIT Roorkee
1. M.Sc. (Physics) from Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati 2. M.Phil (Theoretical High Energy Physics) from University of Hyderabad 3. Ph.D (Atmospheric and Space Physics), IIT Roorkee Assistant Professor in Physics at IIT Roorkee since 2011. I carry research in the area of atmospheric and space physics. With specific interest in understanding the space weather effects on the neutral atmosphere and ionosphere by combining satellite, ground based measurements and modeling techniques. Our research group at IIT Roorkee tries to understand how intense solar prominences such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections effect the geospace in general and the mesosphere-thermosphere and ionosphere in particular.

Course certificate

The course is free to enroll and learn from. But if you want a certificate, you have to register and write the proctored exam conducted by us in person at any of the designated exam centres.
The exam is optional for a fee of Rs 1000/- (Rupees one thousand only).
Date and Time of Exams: 
29 April 2023 Morning session 9am to 12 noon; Afternoon Session 2pm to 5pm.
Registration url: Announcements will be made when the registration form is open for registrations.
The online registration form has to be filled and the certification exam fee needs to be paid. More details will be made available when the exam registration form is published. If there are any changes, it will be mentioned then.
Please check the form for more details on the cities where the exams will be held, the conditions you agree to when you fill the form etc.


Average assignment score = 25% of average of best 8 assignments out of the total 12 assignments given in the course.
Exam score = 75% of the proctored certification exam score out of 100

Final score = Average assignment score + Exam score

YOU WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR A CERTIFICATE ONLY IF AVERAGE ASSIGNMENT SCORE >=10/25 AND EXAM SCORE >= 30/75. If one of the 2 criteria is not met, you will not get the certificate even if the Final score >= 40/100.

Certificate will have your name, photograph and the score in the final exam with the breakup.It will have the logos of NPTEL and IIT Roorkee. It will be e-verifiable at nptel.ac.in/noc.

Only the e-certificate will be made available. Hard copies will not be dispatched.

Once again, thanks for your interest in our online courses and certification. Happy learning.

- NPTEL team

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