5.3 Teaching Optics as Part of the Undergraduate Atmospheric Physics Curriculum

Tuesday, 24 January 2017: 2:00 PM
308 (Washington State Convention Center )
Lourdes B. Avilés, Plymouth State University, Plymouth, NH

The most recent (2010) AMS Information Statement stating curricular guidelines for Bachelor’s Degrees in Atmospheric Science, section 3.c., specifies atmospheric optics as one of the topics that should be addressed under the Atmospheric Physics category. The topic, however, if included at all, is often relegated to brief and shallow discussions of the blue sky, and maybe some rainbow, halo, and corona basics. Besides the breath of knowledge that comes with its inclusion and the topic being inherently interesting on its own right, it can also be used to link other seemingly disparate topics that usually dominate the greatest portion of traditional atmospheric physics courses. The scattering regime and the specific type of optical effect observed depend on an interplay between the particle type and size (aerosol, haze, cloud droplet, ice particles, rainfall size and other related weather features such as cloud type or position with respect to fronts and extratropical cyclones) and the wavelength of the interacting radiation. The author will describe her philosophy and experiences teaching atmospheric optics as part of a senior level undergraduate course in atmospheric physics and highlight a variety of hands-on activities to explore these connections and the characteristics of some of the most important optical effects.
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