Program Mission, Objectives, and Outcome
The MS program in atmospheric and environmental sciences is the flagship program of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences. It supports the college mission to educate students so they may function at their highest possible levels and to develop their problem-solving abilities. The program supports the institutional mission by preparing students for an enhanced quality of life through both educational and social interactions.
The primary objective of the master of science in atmospheric sciences program is to bring students to an understanding of the basic processes involved in weather and to understand the major components of the earth-biosphere-atmosphere system and their interactions. These include:
- solar and terrestrial radiation
- laws of fluid motion and thermodynamics as applied to the atmosphere; physical, chemical, and radiative processes in clouds
- global ecological and biogeochemical cycles
- atmosphere-land-surface interactions
A sub-objective is to educate students in the acquisition and interpretation of data, including:
- conventional weather data, satellite data, and radar data
- observations collected by specially-instrumented platforms such as aircraft, towers located above various terrestrial ecosystems, and tethered balloon systems
- training students on how to evaluate, analyze, and visualize such data using various types of data-processing and display equipment
Graduate students are expected to carry out original research in the atmospheric sciences and participate in disseminating their results at conferences and through the scientific publication process.
The program outcomes are:
- The educational experience of our students is broadened with 24 or more hours of graduate-level coursework in diverse areas of the atmospheric and earth system sciences as well as related fields.
- Students contribute to the expansion of knowledge through basic research and scholarship as they serve as graduate research assistants to faculty on research projects funded by various local, state, and federal agencies. All students prepare theses describing the results of their efforts. Almost all theses lead to conference presentations by the students themselves or by their faculty supervisor. Roughly half of these theses serve as the basis for formal publications in the refereed literature.
- Students completing the program are prepared for employment in research and operational activities in private industry, government, and academic settings.
- Faculty expertise is applied to regional and global needs in atmospheric research with support from external research grants. Faculty perform state-of-the-art research in satellite remote sensing, meteorological radar analysis, numerical modeling of cloud and mesoscale processes, analysis of field data from diverse combinations of platforms, and complex interactions between components of the earth system.
Several of the faculty are actively engaged in research projects involving lightning, severe storms, incident meteorology, fire and its effects on the ecosystem, soil erosion, and other atmospheric and environmental concerns.