Skip to main content
University of Wisconsin–Madison

AOS Course Listing

Courses for Non-Majors

The following courses are open to lower division undergraduates, including freshman.

AOS 100: Weather & Climate (3 credits) Nature and variability of wind, temperature, cloud and precipitation. Storm system, fronts, thunderstorms, tornadoes and their prediction. Air composition and pollution. Global winds, seasonal changes, climate and climatic change. Discussion session will include weather map analysis and basic quantitative lab exercises. Credit is not given for both 100 and 101.

AOS 101: Weather & Climate (4 credits) Nature and variability of wind, temperature, cloud and precipitation. Storm system, fronts, thunderstorms, tornadoes and their prediction. Air composition and pollution. Global winds, seasonal changes, climate and climatic change. Discussion session will include weather map analysis and basic quantitative lab exercises. Credit is not given for both 100 and 101.

AOS 102: Climate and Climate Change (3 credits) This course describes the basic climate principles governing the climate system. It describes the climate and climate variability at present, climate evolution in the past, and the projected climate change into the future. The scientific principles underlying the natural and antropogenic greenhouse effect and climate model forecasts are elucidated. {rereq: none

AOS 105: Survey of Oceanography (3-4 credits) (Also Geology 105). See Geology 105 for description.

AOS 121: Atmospheric Environment and Society (2 credits) (Same as Geog., Env. St. 121). The changing interactions between humans, other animals and plants, and the atmospheric environment are investigated, both in time and space.

AOS 132: Earth's Water: Natural Science and Human Use (3 credits) (Same as Soil Science 132). Water is central to the functioning of planet Earth. As humans increase their impact on Earth's systems and cohabitants, our understanding of the multiple roles of water becomes critical to finding sustainable strategies for human and ecosystem health. This course explores the science of Earth's hydrosphere, with constant attention to human uses and impacts. Prereq: high school math and science.

AOS 141: Natural Hazards of Weather (2 credits). Explores the basic science of weather hazards ongoing around the globe and practical issues of Prediction, Risk Reduction, Resilience and Vulnerability (PRRRV) associated with these hazards.

AOS 171: Global Change (2-3 credits) (Same as Env. St. 171) Atmospheric problems of global significance. Greenhouse warming, ozone layer, acid rain, climate change. Study based on elementary principles of atmospheric science. Systems approach applied to changing atmospheric composition. Interactions among geochemical cycles, anthropogenic inputs and other parts of the environment. Comm B course.

AOS 265: The Oceans and Climate (3 credits) Introduction to the climate system. Interaction between atmosphere and ocean. Principles of the ocean currents. Major current systems. Global fluxes and the deep-sea circulation. The ocean and climate change. Waves and tides. Climate forecasting. Wave forecasting. Prereq: high school physics, and 1 year high school calculus or con reg in Math 211 or 221. Open to Fr.

Return to Top

Courses for AOS Majors

These courses are intended for students majoring in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, and for other interested students with a background in the physical sciences.

AOS 310: Dynamics of the Atmosphere and Ocean I (3 credits) Introduction to theory of fluid motions for atmosphere and ocean. Elementary kinematics, fundamental forces, effects of earth's gravity and rotation, concepts and applications of hydrostatic and geostrophic balance. Prereq: Physics 208 or con reg and Math 234 or con reg.

AOS 311: Dynamics of the Atmosphere and Ocean II (3 credits) Intermediate theory of fluid motions for atmosphere and ocean. Emphasis on large-scale applications and basic theory for geophysical wave types. Thermal wind shear, frictional flow, vorticity concepts, Rossby waves, Sverdrup ocean flow. Prereq: AOS 310, 330.

AOS 323: Science of Climate Change (3 credits) This is a calculus-based treatment of climate stem physics and the mechanisms of modern day anthropogenic climate change. By the end of this course, students will understand: a. How solar radiation and rotating fluid dynamics determine the basic climate state; b. Mechanisms of natural variability and change in climate; c. Why anthropogenic climate change is occurring; and d. Which scientific uncertainties are most important to estimates of 21st century change. Prereq: PHYS 103, 201 or 207; and MATH 221 not open to students who have enrolled in ATM OCN 425.

AOS 330: Physics of the Atmosphere and Ocean I (3 credits) Physical variables, laws, characteristics and direct measurements for atmosphere and ocean. Thermodynamics and moist atmospheric processes. Basic physics of clouds, precipitation, and chemical constituents. Prereq: Physics 208 or con reg and Math 234 or con reg.

AOS 331: Climate Environments of the Past (3 credits) (Same as Geog., Env. St. 331). Climate trends and patterns of the most recent 10,000 years are examined. Studies are based upon a wide variety of surrogate climatic information. Prereq: Atm Ocn/Geog/Envir St 121, or Geog 120, 123, 124 or 127 or Atm Ocn 100.

AOS 332: Global Warming: Science and Impacts (3 credits) Climate change is underway and will continue into the foreseeable future. This course offers a fundamental understanding of how and why global warming is happening, and what to expect in the future. Together, we will investigate and discuss the evidence for change, the science that explains these observations, predicted impacts on humans and ecosystems, and the societal debate over proposed solutions. Prereq: Geog/IES 120 or 127 or Atm Ocn 100 or equivalent recommended. Freshmen permitted only with consent of instructor.

AOS 335: Climatic Environments of the Past (3 credits) Climate change at timescales from the last several million years to the last 100 years, with emphasis on more recent timescales. Examines how climate variability arises from interplay between external forcings, feedbacks within the earth system, and (more recently) human activity. Prereq: Sophomore standing.

AOS 340: Physics of the Atmosphere and Ocean II (2 credits) Radiation, energy budget and remote sensing of atmosphere and upper ocean. Scattering, absorption, emission and diabatic heating by shortwave and longwave processes. Remote sensing techniques and applications, including passive satellite soundings and active radar probes. Prereq: ATM OCN 330.

AOS 355: Introduction to Air Quality (3 credits) (Also Env. St. 355)Air pollution is a complex environmental challenge, because it links chemistry and meteorology to engineering, law, policy, and public health. This class presents key ideas in air quality, with the goal of providing students from a range of backgrounds with a solid foundation in air quality to support a range of educational and career goals. This class will focus on reactive pollutants in the outdoor environment, especially gas and particle phase chemicals that react with human tissue to cause sickness and death. We will discuss the environmental impacts of these pollutants and regulatory approaches for their control in the U.S. and around the world. Indoor air quality will be included for completeness. Non-reactive pollutants, especially carbon dioxide, will be discussed throughout the class to compare and contrast with reactive air pollutants. Students will complete a research-based project to develop skills relevant to air quality analysis. Prereq: Cons. Inst.

AOS 401: Topics in Meteorology (2-3 credits) Special topics to be given as the need and opportunity arise. May be repeated for credit. Prereq: Cons. Inst.

AOS 404: Meteorological Measurements (2 credits) Practical experience in planning experiment implementation, performing instrument quality control, conducting computational data analysis, and writing and presenting of meteorological and climatological observations in a team setting. Prereq: Cons. Inst.

AOS 405: AOS Senior Capstone Seminar (1 credit) Required senior seminar for AOS majors provides a synthesis and overview. Research on a topic of the student's choosing is presented at the end. Prereq: ATM OCN 310, 311, 330, 340.

AOS 425: Global Climate Processes (3 credits) Overview of physical processes of the atmosphere and its coupling to the ocean and land. Understanding its seasonal climatology and variability. Synthesis through application of junior AOS core dynamics and physics to quantitatively understand diabatic, transport and dissipative processes. Examples include global warming, air-ocean coupling, ENSO, ozone hole, tropospheric water and chemistry issues, diurnal to interannual time scales. Prereq: ATM OCN 311, 340 or cons. inst.

AOS 441: Radar and Satellite Meteorology (3 credits) This course provides undergraduate students with the necessary knowledge about radar and satellite meteorology, instrumentation and data analysis. Prereq: Atm Ocn 340 or cons inst.

AOS 452: Synoptic Lab I: The Frontal Cyclone (4 credits) Cyclone and frontal theory; case studies illustrating the structure and evolution of the frontal cyclone; diagnostic techniques: interpretation of satellite photographs, preparation of vertical cross sections and isentropic analysis. Prereq: ATM OCN 311 and 340, or cons. inst.

AOS 453: Synoptic Lab II: Mesoscale Meteorology (4 credits) Local wind systems, thunderstorms, mesoscale convection systems, interactions with synoptic scale weather. Analysis, prediction, nowcasting and observation of mesoscale weather, including interpretation of satellite and radar information. Prereq: ATM OCN 311 and 340, or cons. inst.

AOS 455: Severe Storm Forecasting and Observation (1 credit) Application of severe storm forecasting and nowcasting techniques under operational conditions. Severe storm observation and photography (storm chasing) application in the field. Prereq: ATM OCN 453 or cons. inst.

AOS 472: Scientific Background to Global Environmental Problems (3 credits) A one-semester course designed to provide those elements of physics, atmospheric sciences, chemistry, biology and geology which are essential to a scientific understanding of global environmental problems. Specific examples of such problems include global warming, stratospheric ozone depletion, acid rain and environmental toxins. Three lectures per week. Prereq. high school algebra & 1 sem chem or physics, or cons inst.

Return to Top

Courses for Graduate Students

AOS 508: Teacher Workshop (1-2 credits) This workshop is designed to address the professional development needs for K-12 science teachers.

AOS 509: Distance Learning courses in Earth System Science - Web (1-3 credits) These courses are designed to address the professional development needs for K-12 science teachers in the earth and space sciences. Topics will be designed to meet the Wisconsin State Science standards and be presented by science and education experts. Prereq: Cons. inst.

AOS 520: Bioclimatology (3 credits) (Same as Env. St. 520) Application of climatological and meteorological principles to problems in biology; ecological approach stressed. Prereq: Jr. st and one course in either basic biology or basic meteorology.

AOS 522: Tropical Meteorology (3 credits) Characteristics of the tropical atmosphere; local and diurnal phenomena; tropical synoptic systems; circulation and energetics; mechanisms of tropical climate variations. P: Atm Ocn 311, 340.

AOS 528: Past Climates and Climatic Change (2 credits) (Also Geog., Env. St. 528) Climatic change throughout geologic time, especially the last 10 millennia; mechanics of change, evidence, and criteria, paleography and paleoclimatology, climate models. Prereq: Jr. st or one year calculus-based college physics or introduction to weather and climate; or cons. inst.

AOS 532: Environmental Biophysics (3 credits) (Also Soil Sci. 532) Plant-environment interactions with particular reference to energy exchanges and water relations. Models are used to provide a quantitative synthesis of information from plant physiology, soil physics, and micrometeorology with some consideration of plant-pest interactions. Prereq: Intro calculus, Physics 103, Botany 130 and computer programming, or cons. inst.

AOS 535: Atmospheric Dispersion and Air Pollution (3 credits) Physical principles of atmospheric transport processes. Variation of transport in time and place. Local and regional concentrations of pollutants. Environmental implications of air pollution and control strategies. Prereq: Math 212, Physics 202, or cons. inst.

AOS 573: Computational Methods in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (2 credits) Provides students with an introduciton to mulitple programming languages and technical computing methiods used in the Atmopheric and Oceanic Sciences. Data analysis methods and software development for specialiezed applications related to the field are also highlightd. Prereq: MATH 234 and (COMP SCI 301 or COMP SCI 302).

AOS 575: Climatological Analysis (3 credits) Mathematical and statistical tools applicable to the investigation of meteorological problems: nature and treatment of meteorological data. Prereq: ATM OCN 311 and 340, or cons. inst.

AOS 601: Challenging Problems of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (2-3 credits) Individual staff members weave detailed subjects into the general fabric of the physical environment. Prereq: cons. inst.

AOS 610: Geophysical Fluid Dynamics I (3 credits) Basic dynamic concepts: equations of motion, basic approximations, Coriolis force, wave motions, normal modes, gravity waves, frictional, turbulence and convective processes, geostrophic adjustments, scaling argument, effects of rotation on wave motions. Vorticity and potential vorticity. Prereq: Physics 208, Math 234 and cons. inst.

AOS 611: Geophysical Fluid Dynamics II (3 credits) Quasi-geostrophic motion, potential vorticity equations, E-P fluxes, Rossby waves, boundary layer processes, wind- driven ocean circulation and western boundary currents, barotropic and baroclinic instability, tropical flows. Prereq: ATM OCN 610 or cons. inst.

AOS 615: Laboratory in Rotating Fluid Dynamics (1 credit) Rotating fluid experiments, theory and data anaylysis are used to deepen understanding of geophysical fluid dynamics and observed phenomena in the atmosphere and ocean. The course will be primarily in the laboratory -- focusing on hands-on experiences in the rotating tank lab and with real data. Prereq: ATM OCN 311 or ATM OCN 610.

AOS 623: Electronic Aids to Measurement (4 credits) (Also Physics 623). Fundamentals of electronics, electronic elements, basic circuits; combinations of these into measuring instruments. Three lectures and one three hour lab per week. Prereq: Physics 321 or cons. inst.

AOS 630: Introduction to Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics (3 credits) Graduate level core course covering thermodynamics theory of multiphase systems, thermodynamic analysis of atmosphere, microphysical processes in the atmosphere, atmospheric and oceanic chemical processes, conduction of heat and moisture into the atmosphere from ocean and land surface. Prereq: Physics 208, Math 234 cons. inst.

AOS 637: Cloud Physics (3-4 credits) Processes of cloud formation, growth, and dissipation from the standpoint of both the cloud particles and the whole cloud as a dynamic entity. Prereq: ATM OCN 311 and 340, or cons. inst.

AOS 638: Atmospheric Chemistry (3 credits) Evolution of the atmosphere, chemical structure, instrumental analysis, trace gases, aerosol mechanics, chemical processes. Prereq: One year calculus-based college physics, chemistry, and calculus for science majors, or cons. inst.

AOS 640: Radiation in the Atmosphere and Ocean (3 credits) Graduate level core course in radiation. Introduction to basic laws, radiative transfer under clear sky conditions, scattering by individual particles, multiple scattering, radiative properties of clouds and aerosols, energy budget, miscellaneous applications. Prereq: Physics 208, Math 234 and cons. inst.

AOS 650: Analysis of Atmospheric Systems (3 credits) Graduate level core lab and lecture course designed to quantitatively analyze, descriptively define and physically interpret atmospheric structures, climate and flow systems depicted by observations on scales ranging from the global circulation to those of turbulence in the planetary boundary layer. Observation and analysis strategies. Prereq: ATM OCN 610, 630, or cons. inst.

AOS 651: Synoptic-Dynamic Laboratory (3 credits) Quantitative lab applications of atmospheric dynamics and thermodynamics to synoptic systems. Jet stream systems, cyclone development, global air motions, performance of numerical prediction models, local surface forecasting. Prereq: ATM OCN 610 and 630 and cons. inst. or ATM OCN 650.

AOS 660: Introduction to Physical Oceanography (3 credits) Physical properties of sea water: ocean climatology, water, salt and heat budget, measurement, ocean circulation and water mass of the world ocean, thermocline, thermohaline, equatorial and southern ocean. Prereq: Physics 208, Math 234 and cons. inst.

AOS 681: Senior Honors Thesis (3 credits) Prereq: Cons. inst.

AOS 682: Senior Honors Thesis (3 credits) Prereq: Cons. inst.

AOS 691: Senior Thesis (2-3 credits) Prereq: A) Atm Ocn major; B) Atm Ocn 311, 340 or con reg; C) approval Assoc. Chairman of Undergrad Affairs. Cons. inst.

AOS 692: Senior Thesis (2-3 credits) Prereq: A) Atm Ocn major; B) Atm Ocn 311, 340 or con reg; C) approval Assoc. Chairman of Undergrad Affairs. Cons. inst.

AOS 698: Advanced Independent Reading (1-5 credits) Prereq: Jr. or Sr. st.; requires cons. inst.

AOS 699: Advanced Independent Reading (1-5 credits) Prereq: Jr. or Sr. st. Graded on a lettered basis; requires cons. inst.

AOS 701: The Chemistry of Air Pollution (2 Credits) The course will cover background and modern research methods for the application of chemical analysis tools to understanding of the origin, composition, and the chemical transformations of pollutants that occur in the atmosphere. Emphasis will be directed at the pollutants impacting human health, climate change, and ecosystem degradation. Approximately half of the course materials will be taken from the scientific literature and will provide the opportunity to advance skills in the critical reading of journal articles. The course is directed at graduate students conducting research and interested in air pollution and environmental chemistry.

AOS 705: Middle Atmosphere (3 credits) Dynamics, chemistry and radiation of the stratosphere and mesosphere. Structure and composition. Observing techniques. Gravity, Rossby, and Kelvin waves. Wave-mean flow interaction. Instabilities. Tracer transport. Modeling the middle atmosphere. Ozone layer. Greenhouse effect. Prereq: ATM OCN 610, 630 or equivalent.

AOS 712: General Circulation of the Atmosphere (3 credits) The theory of the general circulation with emphasis on the sources, sinks, and transports of mass, angular momentum, and energy that serve to maintain the circumpolar vortex. Prereq: ATM OCN 610, 630 or equivalent.

AOS 718: Dynamics of Moist Convective Systems (3 credits) Governing equations for non-hydrostatic dynamics, mixed phase thermodynamics and microphysics. Cumulus parameterization and scale interactions. Application to theoretical and numerical models of thunderstorms (and attendant weather phenomena) and Mesoscale Convective Systems in the extra tropics and tropics. Prereq: ATM OCN 610, 630.

AOS 740: Advanced Atmospheric Radiation (3 credits) The course deals with advanced topics in radiative transfer. These include numerical methods to solve the radiative transfer equation, theory of scattering by spherical and non-spherical particles and advanced topics in gas absorption. Prereq: ATM OCN 640.

AOS 745: Meteorological Satellite Applications (2-3 credits) Use of satellite imagery and measurements in meteorological research and operations: orbital characteristics, navigation, instrumentation, remote sensing techniques. Prereq: ATM OCN 640 or one year calculus-based college physics or Math 234.

AOS 750: Problems in Oceanography (3 credits) (Also Env. St., Geol. and Zoology). Introduction to techniques used in the study of the biology, chemistry, geology, and physics of the marine environment. Prereq: one course in oceanography or cons. inst.

AOS 751: The Frontal Cyclone (3 credits) Application of fundamental dynamics and thermodynamics to cyclone and frontal theory; case studies illustrating the structure and evolution of the frontal cyclone; diagnostic consideration of vertical motions, frontogenesis and potential inversion; computational analysis of fundamental diagnostic equations, analysis of vertical cross sections. Prereq: Graduate/Professional standing.

AOS 753: Mesoscale Meteorology (3 credits) Synthesizes the fundamentals of atmospheric dynamics, thermodynamics and microphysics to explain the theory behind the structure, evolution and prediction of microscale, mesoscale and cloud scale weather. Learn the dynamics, and thermodynamics of mesoscale, fogs, cumulus, and severe storms (including tornadoes), mountain meteorology and convective tropical weather systems (including hurricanes and typhoons) and application of multi-scale numerical methods and models for analysis and prediction. Prereq: Graduate/Professional standing.

AOS 760: Large-Scale Ocean-Atmosphere Coupling (3 credits) Various aspects of global ocean-atmosphere coupling and climate variability; global surface flux distribution; mixed layer dynamics; tropical dynamics and El Nino and Southern Oscillation; extratropical ocean-atmosphere coupling; interannual to interdecadel climate variability. Prereq: ATM OCN 611, 660, or cons. inst.

AOS 761: Dynamics of Ocean Circulation (3-4 credits) Theories of general oceanic circulation: Sverdrup flow, western boundary layer; thermocline circulation, recirculation theory, ventilated thermocline theory, thermohaline circulation, abyssal flow, thermohaline instability and multiple equilibria. Prereq: ATM OCN 610, 660.

AOS 771: Numerical Modeling in Meteorology(3 credits) Techniques for development of meteorological numerical models. Survey of existing models for general circulation, operational weather prediction, mesoscale, convection and turbulence with emphasis on numerical methods and solution accuracy. Prereq: ATM OCN 610, 630 or cons. inst.

AOS 773: Boundary Layer Meteorology (3 credits) Observations of and theories for boundary layers, turbulence, spectra, plumes, dust devils, convection, terrain effects, and other phenomena in the lowest 2 km of the atmosphere. Prereq: ATM OCN 311, 340, or 610, 630.

AOS 801: Topics in Theoretical Meteorology (2-3 credits) Advanced level subjects in dynamics, synoptics, climate-dynamics and atmospheric physics including recent advances. Prereq: Grad level general meteorology and cons. inst.

AOS 810: Practical Training in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences I (1 credit) Practical training in atmospheric and oceanic sciences provides direct hands-on exposure to careers in the discipline. Placement into student-designed or an existing internship in atmospheric and oceanic science related companies, agencies, and organizations. The first of a two course sequence gets students set up in their internship and provides professional development. Prereq: declared in the AOS M.S.

AOS 811: Practical Training in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences II (2 credits) Practical training in atmospheric and oceanic sciences provides direct hands-on exposure to careers in the discipline. This second of a two-course sequence continues the internship in atmospheric and oceanic science related companies, agencies, and organizations. Students will develop a portfolio of items necessary for the American Meteorological Society Certified Consulting Meteorology exam. Prereq: AOS 810 and declared in the AOS M.S.

AOS 900: Seminar - Meteorology (1-2 credits) Prereq: Grad St.

AOS 911: Seminar - Oceanography and Limnology (1 credit) (Also Civ. Engr., Bact., Botany, Env. St., Geology, and Zoology 911). Prereq: Grad St. in oceanography & limnology or cons. inst.

AOS 915: Seminar - Dynamics (1-2 credits) Prereq: Grad St.

AOS 925: Seminar - Climatology (1-2 credits)(Same as Env. St. 925) Historical climatology with emphasis on the last few centuries. Prereq: Grad St.

AOS 935: Seminar - Physical Meteorology (1-2 credits) Topics in physical meteorology are explored at an advanced graduate level, including severe storms, cloud physics and atmospheric chemistry, depending on instructor Prereq: Grad St.

AOS 945: Seminar - Radiation and Remote Sensing Seminar (1-2 credits) Topics in radiation and remote sensing of the atmosphere and ocean. Emphasis will be on current and classical problems in radiative transfer and remote sensing. Prereq: Grad St.

AOS 953: Introduction to Ecology Research at UW-Madison (1-2 credits) This seminar course will introduce new graduate students to the diversity of ecologists across the UW-Madison campus. Course meetings will include discussions of key topics in professional development, research presentations by faculty members, and discussions of assigned papers with senior graduate studetns. Prereq: None.

AOS 955: Seminar - Weather Systems (1-2 credits) Topics in weather systems are explored at an advanced graduate level, including problems in synoptics, mesoscale, and micrometeorological weather phenomena, depending on instructor. Prereq: Grad St.

AOS 965: Seminar - Oceanography (1-2 credits) Prereq: Grad St.

AOS 980: Seminar - Earth-System Science (1 credit) (Also Botany, Env. St., Forest, Geol., Geog., and Zoology). Topics in earth system science. Emphasis on the coupling between atmospheric, oceanic and land surface systems, involving physical geochemical and biological processes, and including interactions with human systems. Prereq: Grad St.

AOS 990: Research (1-12 credits) Prereq: Grad St.

AOS 999: Advanced Independent Study (1-6 credits) Prereq: Grad St. and cons. inst.

Return to Top