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1. The air The atmosphere has a mass of about 5 × 1018 kg, three quarters of which is within about 11 km of the surface.

Standard conditions (T=0 C, P=1 atm). Nitrogen Oxygen Argon Carbon dioxide Other Dry air

Molecular Weight (g/mol) 28.01 32.00 38.98 44.01

Density (kg m-3) 1.250 1.428 1.782 1.977 2.974

Dry air contains (by volume) 78.09% nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen, 0.93% argon, 0.039% carbon dioxide, and small amounts of other gases (ozone, methane,..,water vapour). Air also contains a variable amount of water vapor, on average around 1%. Recall that when 1 g of water vapour condense, the amount of energy delivered is capable to increase 2.5 C the temperature of about 1kg of air.



2. General properties A summary of concepts to recall are the following: 1.- Most of gas in an air parcel is N2 and O2. Therefore, in practice, dry air is considered a diatomic perfect gas. For convenience, also air (dry air + water vapor + …) is assumed a diatomic ideal gas. Therefore,
PV = nRT

(never seen in textbooks of meteorology or fluid dynamics!)

We do not measure V of air parcels or n for each gas
PV = m R T = m rT Mw

Where Mw is the molecular weight.


611 exp[ (17.28 (cold climate) – 18 gr/kg (tropics).608rm ) where rm = ρv/ρd = mv/md [ mass of water vapour over mass of dry air] is the (1 + rm ) mixing ratio. in general. Pd =ρd rdT .. T. e is typically denoted by. To calculate the latent heat of condensation (vaporation).3+T)] For this expression. the units for es(T) are [kPa] and the temperature. For dry air.Therefore.36418T + 2500..Specific heat at constant pressure. is γ = ( P Cp ) .Typically. For water vapour. When a parcel of air is saturated of water vapour.rd= 287 J kg-1 k-1 . L. where ζ=rd/rv=(Mw)v/(Mw)a=0. 3. e =ρv rvT . 2. P= ρ rT For dry air. The psychometric constant. and can be determined as es(T)=0. Cp.27 T) / (237.79 where T is in °C and L is expressed in kJ/Kg. q = mv/m [typical units are gr/kg].84q) Cpd. es(T). 4.622. Cp= q Cpv +(1-q) Cpd = (1+0. e / P is about 10-2.999988) can be used L = − 0. γ.5 J kg-1 k-1. The specific humidity. For air. must be expressed in Celsius.. The saturation vapour pressure is the vapour pressure at which a change in phase can occur at constant temperature. in water in the temperature range from −40 °C to 40 °C the following empirical cubic function (determination coefficient. typical notation is. Cpd=1005 J Kg-1 K-1. P = Pd+e (Dalton’s law) and ρ = ρd+ρv . rv=461. The latter allows to write: r = ra (1 + 1.0000614342T3 + 0.For air (dry air +water vapour). (L ε ) 2 .00158927T2 − 2. R2 = 0. ranges in the following interval: 0. For water vapour Cpv=1846 J Kg-1 K-1.

u and w are heat.. 6. Two air parcels at same level having different Tv informs that it is easier to raise the parcel which Tv is higher. dq is positive when the parcel takes heat from its surroundings. ρ = P ra T v . Adiabatic processes are mainly assumed when air parcels with e/ es(T) < 1 have small and relatively fast vertical displacements. Cv does not depends on P or T. which leads to. dry air is denser than (humid) air. Therefore. u exclusively depends on mass of gas and temperature. However. dw is positive when the air parcel expands and vice versa. during the night some processes can be assumed at constant pressure.1)] T ra rv T ra Therefore.61q)T (1 . should have in order to have the same density as moist air with given q and T. Tv. In thermodynamics of the atmosphere are not observed processes at constant volume. for same P. The latter also requires correction for a change in temperature with height.5. The latter conditions make feasible to assume that the parcel is not mixed with air of the surroundings and that the pressure of the parcel is adjusted to 3 .For same conditions (pressure and temperature). If the two air parcels are not levelled (P is different). For a perfect gas. Accordingly. and Tv can also be expressed as Tv= T e ≈ T[1 + (1 .ζ )e P ] [1 P Pressure mainly changes with height.First Law of Thermodynamics: ∆q = ∆u + ∆w Where q. ρ = 1 P-e e 1 [ + ]= [P + e( ζ . we have to level them before to make this comparison. such as dew formation. du = n Cv dT .ζ ) ] =(1+0. The virtual temperature. is defined as the temperature of dry air. it is easier to raise a parcel of air rich of water vapour.. therefore. ρ=ρa+ρv . dw = P dV. internal energy and work.

m=1kg. 4 . which mass is 1kg. it becomes closer to saturation and a cloud may be formed.During a calm night.the new surroundings as it moves. has 1g of water that condenses and the parcel becomes dry. H is the sensible heat flux. G is the soil heat flux. Derive the following expression valid for an adiabatic process: Cp ∂T ∂P 1 ∂P =V = ∂z ∂z ρ ∂z What is the assumption made?. Wm-2.. When an air parcel rises adiabatically it expands because the pressure of his surroundings decreases. A moist air parcel. b. Consequently. However. storage …. and other energy terms refers to dissipation. LE is the latent heat flux. Determine the temperature rise of the parcel. Note that the energy balance refers to a volume of air. to photosynthesis. so those terms are flux densities. as the parcel moves up. It is called pseudo-adiabatic and it is not a process at constant entropy. the air temperature is T=0 C.. If the parcel is saturated and still moves up. Exercices: a. this terminology is not often used.Consider a mass. for a given perfect gas. the process is not adiabatic [parcel is enriched of heat delivered in the change of phase vapour-liquid and may loss some mass (droplets)]. Therefore. its temperature also decreases (internal energy per unit mass only depends on temperature). The First Law of Thermodynamics in micrometeorology is often called the surface energy balance and it is written as: (Rn-G)=H+LE+other energy flux terms Rn is the net radiation.Typical units.

9. is the temperature which would result if a parcel located at a given height. it ∂z ∂T p . z.23q )   7. arrives to. γ [=− ∂Tv p ∂z . the rate at which its virtual temperature changes with height. T and P were brought adiabatically to a standard pressure level P0 (=1000 mb). γ ≈ - Exercice: Derive the following expression for γ.-The potential temperature.. P0) indicates to us which of them is easier to rise (the higher θv). ∂z can be assumed.As a first approximation. θ. Therefore.. we do not observe fast vertical displacements. Therefore. ∂Tv p ∂z = ∂T p . considering a huge layer of the atmosphere (ex. Derive the following expression θ = T  P0   P k  r   rd where k =   Cp  =  Cp      d  (1− 0.Similar to θ. in practice. 5 . it is defined the potential virtual temperature. Determination of θv (they are now at a reference level. The latter expression indicates that for parcels far from saturation. γ ≈- g K ∂T p = ≈1 ∂z hm Cp Note that. the atmosphere may be considered vertically thermal stratified. if one considers that the parcel does not exchange moisture with the surrounding body air as it displaces ( (1+061q) ∂q ∂z =0). the troposphere).ρg∂z ). where index p denotes air parcel ]. the atmosphere can be assumed a hydrostatic system. The mean temperature of thin atmospheric layers changes with height and the gradient is denoted as.Considering a dry parcel having a vertical displacement (adiabatic) in a hydrostatic body of air ( ∂P = . 8. is γ = 1 K/hm. as a first approximation..c. θv P  θ v = Tv  0  where P k  r  k = d   Cp   d If two air parcels are not at same level.

α v ) (z . for different ∂z layers (values for mid latitudes)..65 K/hm. &&p = z g T vp .51] [51. may be determined by the following z expressions: &&p = .α =- ∂T . this is called inversion).g − z  ρ − ρp  1 ∂p 1 ∂p 1 ∂p ∂p  ρ s − ρ p    ≈ −g s  = − =  ρ  ρ s ∂z ρ p ∂z ρ s ∂z ∂z  ρ s ρ p  p     where ρs and ρp are the mean air density of the layer (surroundings) and the parcel.] Sign for α Name of the Layer Troposphere Tropopause Stratosphere Stratopause Mesosphere Mesopause Termosphere Positive Null Negative Null Positive Nul Negative As a rule of thumb.z 0 ) Tv Tv 6 .. &&p .The next table shows few characteristics for the mean actual lapse rate. The latter due to continuous energy and scalar exchanges between the ground-vegetation-atmosphere.W = Fnet Weight Fz Therefore. in the troposphere α=0. The latter expression can be re-written as.Fz+dz . The diagram of the forces (positive upwards) involved in a parcel is the following Fz+dz dz Fz . Layer depth (km) [0. respectively. α . the vertical acceleration of the parcel.80] [80. For example. typically α is positive (air temperature increases as we move up. Consider an atmospheric layer at rest and thermal stratified. Aprox*.T v g=( γ .11] [11. during the night. But this value is far to be close for layers close to the surface.

the quantity.. ∂θ v θ v  ∂Tv  =  +γ  ∂z Tv  ∂z  (z . Therefore. remains constant at z.  ∂T  Tv = Tv(z) = Tv(zo) – αv(z-z0) where α v = − v   ∂z  Tvp = Tvp (z) = Tvp(zo) . α<0 in the stratosphere).. is α=0.Often the vertical profile of the humidity is not available. the pressure is constant. However. z. Therefore. by virtue of the equation of state and definition of virtual temperature.z 0 ) ∂ θ v θv ∂z &&p = − g z The latter expression derived in the exercise. the mean value for α. The right expression is obtained by assuming the initial condition that at z0 the virtual temperature of the air parcel and its surrounding is the same. and between θ and θv. therefore.e. That is. 10. Thus.) which has a capping inversion (i. When it is negative. 7 . indicates that  ∂θ  when  v  = 0.γ(z-z0) Exercise: Derive the following two expressions.. within the first 10 m above the ground. Note that for a given height. the atmosphere is statically neutral. which resembles the Hook’s law. as shown in the next Figures. for many practical purposes. it is not necessary to distinguish between T and θ.Where z0 is a reference height.e. in terms of Tv it is not possible to delimitate the boundary of the air parcel at z0. (ρTv). Such simplifications often are used to remind that the troposphere is a thick stable layer (i.65 K/hm. the  ∂z  atmosphere is unstable and vice versa. for thin layers close to the surface the stability is mainly explained by the sign of (γ−α).

Stable air tends to resist vertical air movement. As this parcel rises. Unstable case (left). and will continue to rise until it reaches a level in which its new temperature equals that of the surrounding air. If the atmosphere is neutral. it will sink back. Env.The next photographs and artistic graphs show consequences of the thermal stability in a stratified flow at rest (From Ogawa et al. 16. 1419-1433. the actual temperature lapse rate equals the dry adiabatic lapse rate. respectively) Spatial evolution of traces in a lab lity_1. that is. as over a mountain... If a horizontally moving parcel of air is lifted or forced to rise. 1992. Stable case (right) If the atmosphere is unstable.usu. therefore. Atmos.11.html. to the level from which it originated. it decreases in temperature at a rate of γ. a parcel of air that is lifted will be neither heavier nor lighter at a 8 .. and http://ocw. any parcel of air that is lifted will tend to rise like a hot air balloon. that parcel will tend to settle back to its original level. if possible. It is heavier than the air around it.

9 . imagine a bubble of air initially traveling in the mean flow that suddenly moves down towards the surface and it encounters an inversion. Which picture was taken under stable conditions? 2. How the plume is dispersed is useful to quantify the effect of contamination. ¿How is the expected movement’s bubble?. As in the lab experiments. As this parcel is forced up. Exercises. The surrounding air at the new altitude will have the same temperature. it decreases in temperature at a rate of 1K per 100 m. and it will remain neutral. 1.different altitude. the smoke reveals the stability of the surface layer. At night. and may it have some consequences at the surface?.