Module Overview

Environmental Physics / Atmospheric Physics

The first part is a general introduction to environmental physics, covering such areas as heat transfer mechanisms, fluid dynamics, heat engines, and basic climate modelling. The second part of the module covers atmospheric physics, including meteorology, air pollution, and global warming and climate change.

Module Code

PHYS 2823

ECTS Credits


*Curricular information is subject to change

Environmental Physics
Energy transfer:
Conduction (Time dependence, Fourier's law)
Convection (Free and forced, Newton's law of cooling)
Radiation (Wien's displacement law, Stefan-Boltzmann law)
Fluid dynamics:
Equation of continuity
Bernoulli's equation
Viscous fluids - Poiseuille's law
Laminar & turbulent flow
Heat engines:
Thermodynamics - work, heat and second law
Otto cycle
Diesel cycle
Brayton cycle (gas turbine)
Rankine cycle (steam turbine)
Climate Modelling:
Zero dimensional energy balance models (EBM)
One dimensional energy balance models (EBM)
Ice age models
Higher order models
Global circulation models (GCMs)
Atmospheric Physics
Meteorology and pollution formation
Types of pollution, and the measurement systems used to monitor exposure. EU air quality legislation. The Typical weather patterns over Ireland, the development of a temperature inversion, and its links to a pollution episode.
Indoor pollutants.
Typical sources of pollution (Irish context)
Domestic, industrial, and transports pollutants, types of pollution from each. Incinerators, and their emissions. Mechanisms to reduce emissions.
Pollution and health effects
Evidence from Ireland and abroad on the health effects of pollution exposure. Steps which can be taken to improve the situation.
Greenhouse Effect
Evidence from Ireland and abroad on the health effects of pollution exposure. Steps which can be taken.
What is the Greenhouse effect? What emissions are responsible for the effect. The Kyoto protocol.
Global dimming and global warming. Global climate change, evidence from Ireland and abroad.
zone depletion/ ground level Ozone
A description of both ground level and stratospheric Ozone and the roles they play. The Ozone layer/Ozone hole. CFCs and their role in Ozone depletion. The replacement of CFCs in everyday products. Increased UV exposure and the possible health effects.

Lectures, tutorials and laboratory work

Module Content & Assessment
Assessment Breakdown %
Formal Examination42
Other Assessment(s)58