Skip to main content
Geosciences LibreTexts

2: Thermodynamics

  • Page ID
    • 2.1: Gas Laws
      Understanding atmospheric thermodynamics begins with the gas laws that you learned in chemistry. Because these laws are so important, we will review them again here and put them in forms that are particularly useful for atmospheric science. These laws will be used again and again in many other areas of atmospheric science, including cloud physics, atmospheric structure, dynamics, radiation, boundary layer, and even forecasting.
    • 2.2: The Atmosphere’s Pressure Structure - Hydrostatic Equilibrium
      The atmosphere’s vertical pressure structure plays a critical role in weather and climate. We all know that pressure decreases with height, but do you know why?
    • 2.3 First Law of Thermodynamics
    • 2.4: The higher the temperature, the thicker the layer
    • 2.5: Adiabatic Processes - The Path of Least Resistance
      So far, we have covered constant volume (isochoric) and constant pressure (isobaric) processes. There is a third process that is very important in the atmosphere—the adiabatic process. Adiabatic means no energy exchange between the air parcel and its environment: Q = 0.
    • 2.6: Stability and Buoyancy
      We know that an air parcel will rise relative to the surrounding air at the same pressure if the air parcel’s density is less than that of the surrounding air. The difference in density can be calculated using the virtual temperature, which takes into account the differences in specific humidity in the air parcel and the surrounding air as well as the temperature differences.