*S. Businger, PhD (Chair)—mesoscale and synoptic meteorology, satellite meteorology, storm structure and dynamics
*J. D. S. Griswold, PhD (Associate Chair, Undergraduate Lead Advisor)—satellite remote sensing of clouds and aerosol, cloud microphysics, aerosols and climate meteorology
*T. Li, PhD (Graduate Chair)—climate and atmospheric dynamics, tropical meteorology, atmosphere-ocean interactions
*Y. L. Chen, PhD—mesoscale meteorology, heavy rainfall
*P. S. Chu, PhD—climate variability and natural hazards, tropical cyclones, climate prediction
*F. F. Jin, PhD—atmospheric dynamics, climate dynamics
*C. Karamperidou, PhD (Undergraduate Advisor)— climate dynamics and modeling, interannual and decadal climate variability; paleoclimate
*A. D. Nugent, PhD (Undergraduate Advisor)—mountain meteorology, cloud physics, cloud microphysics
*G. Torri, PhD—atmospheric physics, precipitating convection, downdraft and cold pool dynamics, severe weather, climate change
*Y. Wang, PhD—atmospheric dynamics and physics, climate modeling, tropical meteorology
*J. Zhao, PhD—atmospheric chemistry and aerosols
Affiliate Graduate Faculty
M. M. Bell, PhD—tropical cyclone, mesoscale, and radar meteorology
J. Li, PhD—climatic dynamics and predictability, monsoon and air-sea interactions, ENSO
*B. Wang, PhD—climate dynamics, geophysical fluid dynamics, and tropical meteorology
Degrees Offered: BS (including minor) in atmospheric sciences, MS in atmospheric sciences, PhD in atmospheric sciences
The Academic Program
Atmospheric Sciences (ATMO) is the study of phenomena in the Earth’s atmosphere. These phenomena include both weather and climate. Students pursuing the BS receive preparation for professional employment in the atmospheric sciences and are qualified for employment in the federal meteorological agencies. The atmospheric sciences major must be well-grounded in the fundamentals of mathematics, chemistry, and physics. Thus BS graduates are qualified to pursue graduate studies both in atmospheric sciences and other applied sciences, such as oceanography or geography. Graduate degrees prepare students to pursue research careers both with government and in academia.
The atmospheric sciences program at UH Manoa is unique in its focus on tropical meteorology. The tropics exert critical controls on the entire global atmosphere. BS students receive comprehensive training in tropical weather analysis and forecasting. Graduate students often pursue their research in tropical meteorology; some of their study topics take advantage of Hawai‘i’s unique natural laboratory. Some students pursue graduate research with funding from the National Weather Service, whose Honolulu Weather Forecast Office is housed in the same building as the atmospheric sciences department. Atmospheric sciences faculty cooperate actively with physical oceanography faculty through the Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research and the International Pacific Research Center in the study of air-sea interaction and climate variability. Students also have access to both research databases and cooperative employment opportunities at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, Pearl Harbor.
UH Manoa is an active member of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.
Inquire about the major by contacting the department office (808) 956-8775. Graduate students are assigned individual faculty advisors by the graduate chair after their preliminary conference.
Students must complete 120 credit hours, including:
- General Education Core (see the “Undergraduate General Education Requirements” section of this Catalog).
- OEST 100
- ATMO 101L and 200
- MATH 241, 242, 243, 244, and 302 (Students planning careers with federal meteorological agencies should also take MATH 405.)
- PHYS 170/170L and 272/272L
- 19-20 credit hours in atmospheric sciences courses numbered 300 and above, including ATMO 302, 303, 305, and 402; and ATMO 405, 412 or 416 (Students must take at least two courses from 405, 412 and 416.)
- 9 additional credit hours from physical and mathematical sciences (e.g., engineering, geography, earth sciences, information and computer sciences, mathematics, oceanography, physics, and topical plant and soil science) including (but not limited to) ATMO 310, 405, 406, 412 or 416, 449, 600, 610; CEE 304, 422, 424, and 626; GEO 300, 302, 303, 308, 388, 389, 400, 401, 402, 404, 405, 412, 470, and 489; ERTH 455; ICS 211, 311, and 442; MATH 311, 371, 373, 402, 403, and 405; OCN 318, 320, 363, 401, 408, 435, 620, and 638; PHYS 274/274L and 400
- CHEM 161/161L and 162, MATH 372
- ICS 111 or ATMO 320
For information on a Bachelor Degree Program Sheet, go to programsheets/.
Student Learning Outcomes (BS Atmospheric Sciences)
- Demonstrate integrated understanding of the fundamental physical and dynamical processes governing the atmosphere across spatial and temporal scales;
- Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the interconnected Earth system (solid earth, atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, and biosphere);
- Utilize state-of-the-art diagnostic, prognostic, and
technological frameworks including models, instrumentation, and remote sensing data to analyze and interpret atmospheric processes;
- Develop and apply critical thinking to solve problems in the atmospheric sciences in both individual and collaborative settings;
- Effectively communicate scientific information to the general public and the scientific community in both oral and written form;
- Adopt the principles of proper ethical behavior and understand the broader impacts of the atmospheric sciences on society;
- Synthesize and apply knowledge within the atmospheric sciences or across disciplines through a capstone experience or in-depth course projects or portfolio;
- Demonstrate expertise in tropical weather and climate and communicate effectively the importance of tropical atmospheric processes to global weather and climate phenomena;
- Embrace a scientific leadership role and become ambassadors for weather and climate issues impacting the communities and peoples of the greater Pacific region (employment statistics-public, private, academic, etc.).
Students must complete 15 credit hours of non-introductory courses, including:
- ATMO 200, 302, and 303
- 6 credits of electives from ATMO 305, 310, 405, 406, 412, 416, and 449
Accelerated BS/MS Program
An accelerated BS/MS degree program is offered in atmospheric sciences, as one of the university’s combined bachelor’s and master’s (BAM) degree pathways. The key aspect of this program is that 7 credits of specific technical electives taken as part of the BS degree can be “double-counted” as credit towards the MS degree. This enables completion of an MS in atmospheric sciences within a single year following completion of the BS degree.
The department offers MS and PhD degrees. Through courses in dynamic, synoptic, and physical meteorology, students develop a strong foundation in tropical meteorology, the department’s special field, and are prepared to do research in the atmospheric sciences.
Candidates should have a thorough preparation in physics (with calculus), chemistry, and mathematics through differential equations. Undergraduate courses in physical, dynamic, and synoptic meteorology are expected, but they can be taken in the first year. The application for fall semester is due March 1 for both U.S. and international applicants. The application deadline for spring semester is October 1 for both international applicants and U.S. applicants. In special circumstances, late applications for either semester will be considered.
Plan A: Thesis Option Requirements
Graduation with a master’s degree requires completion of an acceptable thesis and a successful defense of the thesis in an oral examination.
A total of 30 official course credit hours must also be earned consisting of:
- At least 18 credits of regular course work (i.e., excluding ATMO 699, 700 and 765), with a minimum of 12 credits in courses numbered 600 and above.
- 1 credit of ATMO 765
- 6 credits of ATMO 700 Thesis Research and
- 5 more credits either from regular courses or ATMO 699
Our core requirements include ATMO 600, 610, 620. Students must obtain a grade of B- or higher for each of the core courses. Incoming students who have taken a synoptic meteorology course elsewhere with a grade of B- or higher will be exempt from taking ATMO 412 or 416 in the ATMO department as determined by the ATMO department graduate chair.
Incoming students without synoptic meteorology course work will need to take a synoptic meteorology class and lab equivalent, either ATMO 412 or 416, and obtain a grade B- or higher. In these cases, the synoptic meteorology credits will be counted towards the students’ MS degree.
Students must obtain a minimum of a combined GPA of 3.0 or higher for the courses ATMO 600, 610, 620, and 412 or 416 if taken at UH Manoa. Students must also maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 for all courses in the MS program.
Plan B: Non-Thesis Option Requirements
Graduation requirements for a master’s degree Plan B emphasize a greater number of graduate level courses, but no thesis.
A total of 30 official ATMO course credit hours must be earned, including the following:
- At least 18 credits of regular course work (i.e., excluding ATMO 699, 700 and 765), in courses numbered 600 and above.
- 1 credit of ATMO 765
- 9 additional credits of regular ATMO course work in 400-level undergraduate courses and graduate courses (600- and 700-level). Regarding undergraduate courses, we expect that students without a U.S. major in atmospheric sciences may want to take the advanced dynamics course (ATMO 402) and one or both of the forecasting courses (ATMO 412, 416).
- 2 credits of ATMO 699 Directed Research/Reading. These 2 credits with a written term paper, along with ATMO 765, Seminar in Atmospheric Sciences with an oral presentation, are the capstone project for the Plan B program.
- Our core requirements include ATMO 600, 610, 620. Students must obtain a grade of B- or higher for each of these core courses. Incoming students who have taken a synoptic meteorology course elsewhere with a grade of B- or higher will be exempt from taking ATMO 412 or 416 in the ATMO department as determined by the ATMO department graduate chair. Incoming students without synoptic meteorology course work will need to take a synoptic meteorology class and lab equivalent, either ATMO 412 or 416, and obtain a grade B- or higher. In these cases, the synoptic meteorology credits will be counted towards the students’ MS degree. Students must obtain a minimum of a combined GPA of 3.0 or higher for the courses ATMO 600, 610, 620, and 412 or 416 if taken at UH Manoa.
MS Plan B candidates must be enrolled during the term in which they complete the requirements for the degree; regular course work or ATMO 600 (Master’s Plan B Studies) may be used to meet this requirement. ATMO 600 is offered as a 1-credit course with a mandatory grading of S/NG but does not carry credit toward meeting degree requirements.
The PhD students are expected to exhibit a higher level of independence and originality of thought than that required of the MS student.
Students must satisfy several requirements in order to graduate with a PhD degree. Each student is required to pass at least 8 courses numbered 600 and above with a grade of B- or higher. These courses will be in dynamic, synoptic, physical and tropical meteorology, physical oceanography, or other closely related fields. At the discretion of the graduate chair, a student must be awarded credit for up to 3 relevant graduate courses taken at UH Manoa or elsewhere, therefore a minimum of 5 courses must be completed at UH Manoa. The courses taken either here or elsewhere need to cover the areas of dynamic, synoptic, physical and tropical meteorology with a grade of B- or higher. Incoming students without synoptic meteorology course work will need to take a synoptic meteorology class and lab equivalent, either ATMO 412 or 416, and obtain a grade B- or higher (and such a synoptic meteorology course will not be counted toward 8 required PhD courses). The graduate chair determines if a student had adequate synoptic classes previously and if ATMO 412 or 416 can be waived.
No later than the 24th month in the PhD program, each student must pass a two-part comprehensive examination. The purpose of this exam is to ascertain the student’s comprehension of the broad field of atmospheric sciences and so to insure that the student is well prepared for PhD research. The first part of the comprehensive examination is a set of written exercises completed on a single day. Within 7 days after the written exam, the student sits for the oral portion with his or her committee. No later than 12 months after successful completion of the comprehensive examination, each student is required to submit a written research prospectus for approval to his or her dissertation committee.
A PhD student must also successfully complete two semesters of ATMO 765 during his or her PhD studies (ATMO 765 taken before the student was admitted to the PhD program cannot be counted towards satisfying this requirement). Finally, the student must complete an acceptable PhD dissertation and successfully defend it in a public final oral defense.