Lectures

This introductory course lecture on Environmental Physics provides the basis for all other courses in this area of specialization within the Master’s curriculum. The objective of the lecture is to convey a fundamental understanding of the physical processes and interactions within the Earth system. The properties and dynamics of the major compartments of the environment, transport processes within and between them, and their interaction in the climate system are treated. The lecture is structured in five main parts:

  1. Introduction and Fundamentals, introduces the subject and the basics about the Earth, its fluid compartments, flow and transport within them, and the global radiation balance.
  2. Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, is a major part of the lecture and provides an introduction to the dynamics of Earth's large fluid systems. The fundamental laws of fluid dynamics and the phenomenon of turbulence are discussed.
  3. Compartments of the Environment, focuses on some compartments of Earth's environment, especially the global circulation of atmosphere and ocean, and the slow dynamics in porous media and ice.
  4. Methods and Processes, deals with a range of techniques, such as isotope methods, that are used to study various physical processes in the environment. Examples of complex processes are radiative transfer and ocean-atmosphere exchange. Numerical modelling is indispensable to tackle the complexity of environmental systems.
  5. Climate System and Synthesis, discusses the synthesis of the dynamics in the various compartments of Earth in the climate system. Modern topics of climate research are presented and the anthropogenic impact on the Earth system leads us to the concept of the Anthropocene.

The lecture Atmospheric Physics is part of the specialization in Environmental Physics within the Master’s programme in physics. Knowledge of the general lecture on environmental physics (MKEP4) is required.

„Atmospheric Physics” covers the manifold of environmental processes occurring in the Earth atmosphere ranging from fluid dynamics, to radiation transport, to cloud formation, to physical and chemical cycling of constituents. The lecture applies the principles of environmental physics (discussed in MKEP4) to the atmosphere. The lecture highlights the key role of the atmosphere in the climate system, and it discusses state-of-the-art methods and experiments how to gain insight into respective processes.

This lecture is a regularly held part of the specialization in Environmental Physics within the Master’s programme in physics. Knowledge of the general lecture on environmental physics (MKEP4) is presupposed.

„Aquatic Physics“ or „Physics of Aquatic Systems“ is a part of environmental physics that deals with physical processes in natural waters such as oceans, lakes, rivers, and groundwater. The relevance of studying the hydrosphere follows from the oceans’ pivotal role in the climate system as well as the vital importance of limited fresh water reserves. The focus of this lecture lies on the most abundant continental water reservoirs, lakes and groundwaters. However, fundamentals of physical oceanography are also treated.

In the first part of the lecture, the physical properties of water and the aquatic systems, as well as the physical processes in these systems are treated. The laws of fluid dynamics (e.g., Navier-Stokes), as well as the theory of transport processes (e.g., advection, (turbulent) diffusion, heat and gas exchange), which are known from the general lecture on environmental physics (MKEP4) are applied to these special systems.

The second part of the lecture deals with the application of environmental tracer methods to study aquatic systems, the so-called isotope hydrology. In this part, various tracers (e.g., stable isotopes, tritium, noble and transient gases, 14C) and the basics of the respective methods are introduced and it is shown how these methods can be applied to determine physical parameters of aquatic systems.

This lecture is a regularly held part of the specialization in Environmental Physics within the Master’s programme in physics. Knowledge of the general lecture on environmental physics (MKEP4) is presupposed.

The lecture „Physics of Climate” addresses the underlying physical and chemical processes of the terrestrial climate system, how the relevant compartments of the Earth (i.e. atmosphere, ocean cryosphere, biosphere, lithosphere, ... ) interact, and how their properties are determined by the various internal and external boundary conditions and constraints provided on the various spatial and temporal time scales.

In the first part of the lecture (usually held during the winter term) deals with the formation of the solar system, the sun and its variable energy input into the climate system, some features of atmospheric radiative transfer and the budget of the climate system, as well as the relevant dynamical aspects of mass, momentum, and energy transport within the climate system.

The second part of the lecture (usually held during the summer term) addresses the hydrological and biochemical cycles, the carbon cycle and the cycles of the various greenhouse gases, some thermo-dynamical aspects of the climate system, the coupled atmospheric oceanic heat engine, modelling of the climate system, climate variability and climate change and its projection.

The lectures are complemented by a weekly tutorial, which includes some home-work and practical exercises.

<\br> Information for the Summer Term 2020

Seminars

Practical Course


Note: This page serves as a brief overview of the lectures offered by the Institute of Environmental Physics, for a complete list of the current lectures, please refer to the "Lectures & Seminars" link above.