atmospheric-oceanic-sciences

The study of atmospheric and oceanic sciences includes all aspects of the atmosphere and physical oceanography, their mutual interaction, and their interaction with space and the rest of the earth system. Although a primary goal is to understand the atmosphere and ocean for the purpose of predicting the weather, atmospheric and oceanic sciences embraces much more: motions at large, medium, and small scales; past, present, and future climates; air chemistry and quality; clouds and precipitation; and solar and terrestrial radiation. In many areas, new remote-sensing technology including satellites is used to provide circulation patterns at both global and local scales.

Many undergraduates take an elementary atmospheric and oceanic sciences course to meet part of their natural or physical science breadth requirements. Other students, who have had sufficient mathematics and physics preparation, take higher-level atmospheric and oceanic sciences courses to complement their major work in other fields of natural science. An atmospheric and oceanic sciences major receives a thorough introduction to the basic concepts and tools in the core courses, which cover the physics and dynamics of the atmosphere and ocean. An array of elective courses are offered in the senior year, with tracks in the areas of weather systems, earth/environmental science, and general and applied atmospheric and oceanic sciences. Elective groups are tailored individually. Some students will want preparation for careers in areas such as operational forecasting, environmental consulting, and broadcasting. Others will seek preparation for graduate work leading to a broader range of careers.

Because atmospheric and oceanic sciences involves applying the principles and techniques of physical science to the fluid atmosphere and ocean, a strong background in mathematics, physics, and chemistry is necessary. Admission to the atmospheric and oceanic sciences major requires a combined grade point average of 2.250 or better in the following courses:

Calculus
MATH 221 Calculus and Analytic Geometry 15
MATH 222 Calculus and Analytic Geometry 24
MATH 234 Calculus--Functions of Several Variables4
Chemistry
CHEM 103 General Chemistry I4
or CHEM 109 Advanced General Chemistry
or CHEM 115 Chemical Principles I
Physics
PHYSICS 207 General Physics5
or PHYSICS 201 General Physics
or PHYSICS 247 A Modern Introduction to Physics
PHYSICS 208 General Physics5
or PHYSICS 202 General Physics
or PHYSICS 248 A Modern Introduction to Physics
Computer Sciences (complete one):3
COMP SCI 301
(recommended)
Problem Solving Using Computers
Machine Organization and Programming
Introduction to Numerical Methods
Introduction to Combinatorial Optimization
Total Credits30

Students may declare by speaking with the undergraduate advisor. 

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Letters & Science Breadth and Degree Requirements: Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

Students pursuing a bachelor of science degree in the College of Letters & Science must complete all of the requirements below. The College of Letters & Science allows this major to be paired with either a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science curriculum. View a comparison of the degree requirements here.

Bachelor of Science DEGREE REQUIREMENTS

Mathematics Two (2) 3+ credits of intermediate/advanced level MATH, COMP SCI, STAT
Limit one each: COMP SCI, STAT
Foreign Language Complete the third unit of a foreign language
Note: A unit is one year of high school work or one semester/term of college work.
L&S Breadth
  • Humanities, 12 credits: 6 of the 12 credits must be in literature
  • Social Sciences, 12 credits
  • Natural Sciences, 12 credits: must include 6 credits in biological science; and must include 6 credits in physical science
Liberal Arts and Science Coursework 108 credits
Depth of Intermediate/Advanced work 60 intermediate or advanced credits
Major Declare and complete at least one (1) major
Total Credits 120 credits
UW-Madison Experience 30 credits in residence, overall
30 credits in residence after the 86th credit
Minimum GPAs 2.000 in all coursework at UW–Madison
2.000 in intermediate/advanced coursework at UW–Madison

Non–L&S Students PURSUING AN L&S MAJOR

Non–L&S students who have permission from their school/college to pursue an additional major within L&S only need to fulfill the major requirements and do not need to complete the L&S breadth and degree requirements above.  Please note that the following special degree programs are not considered majors so are not available to non-L&S-degree-seeking candidates:  

  • Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics (Bachelor of Science–Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics)
  • Journalism (Bachelor of Arts–Journalism; Bachelor of Science–Journalism)
  • Music (Bachelor of Music)
  • Social Work (Bachelor of Social Work)

Requirements for the Major

Calculus
MATH 221 Calculus and Analytic Geometry 15
MATH 222 Calculus and Analytic Geometry 24
MATH 234 Calculus--Functions of Several Variables4
Chemistry
CHEM 103 General Chemistry I4
or CHEM 109 Advanced General Chemistry
or CHEM 115 Chemical Principles I
Physics
PHYSICS 207 General Physics5
or PHYSICS 201 General Physics
or PHYSICS 247 A Modern Introduction to Physics
PHYSICS 208 General Physics5
or PHYSICS 202 General Physics
or PHYSICS 248 A Modern Introduction to Physics
Computer Sciences (complete one):3
COMP SCI 301
(recommended)
Problem Solving Using Computers
Machine Organization and Programming
Introduction to Numerical Methods
Introduction to Combinatorial Optimization
Total Credits30
Core Sequence
ATM OCN 310 Dynamics of the Atmosphere and Ocean I3
ATM OCN 311 Dynamics of the Atmosphere and Ocean II3
ATM OCN 330 Physics of the Atmosphere and Ocean I3
ATM OCN 340 Physics of the Atmosphere and Ocean II3
Quantitative Analysis3
Introduction to Numerical Methods
Introduction to Combinatorics
Numerical Analysis
Linear Optimization
Introduction to Probability and Mathematical Statistics I
Introduction to Probability and Mathematical Statistics II
Techniques in Ordinary Differential Equations
Linear Algebra and Differential Equations
Applied Mathematical Analysis
Applied Mathematical Analysis
An Introduction to Probability and Markov Chain Models
Elementary Matrix and Linear Algebra
Linear Algebra
Topics in Multi-Variable Calculus and Linear Algebra
Topics in Multi-Variable Calculus and Differential Equations
Topics in Mathematics Study Abroad
Applied Dynamical Systems, Chaos and Modeling
The Theory of Single Variable Calculus
Introduction to Combinatorial Optimization
Introduction to the Theory of Probability
Introduction to Cryptography
Introduction to Modern Algebra
Applied Linear Algebra
College Geometry I
Introduction to Number Theory
Mathematics for Secondary School Teachers
History of Mathematics
Introduction to Combinatorics
Undergraduate Seminar
Topics in Undergraduate Mathematics
Numerical Linear Algebra
Numerical Analysis
Ordinary Differential Equations
Analysis I
Analysis II
Linear Optimization
Probability Theory
Mathematical Methods in Data Science
Linear Algebra II
Modern Algebra
Modern Algebra
Elementary Topology
Elementary Geometric and Algebraic Topology
Differential Geometry
Modern Number Theory
Fundamentals of Set Theory
Mathematical Logic
Stochastic Methods for Biology
Mathematical Methods for Structural Biology
Topics in Mathematics Study Abroad
Mathematical Methods for Continuum Modeling in Biology
Mathematical Methods for Systems Biology
Analysis of Partial Differential Equations
Analysis III
Complex Analysis
Introduction to Fourier Analysis
Introduction to Measure and Integration
Introduction to Stochastic Processes
Introduction to Probability and Mathematical Statistics I
Introduction to Probability and Mathematical Statistics II
Introduction to Theory and Methods of Mathematical Statistics I
Introduction to Theory and Methods of Mathematical Statistics II
Introductory Applied Statistics for Engineers
Learning a Statistical Language
Applied Regression Analysis
Introduction to Data Modeling II
Introduction to Time Series
Introductory Nonparametric Statistics
Topics in Statistics Study Abroad
Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences
An Introduction to Sample Survey Theory and Methods
Applied Categorical Data Analysis
Statistical Experimental Design
Introduction to the Theory of Probability
Introduction to Biostatistics for Pharmacy
Applied Multivariate Analysis
Financial Statistics
Introduction to Computational Statistics
Introduction to Combinatorics
Special Topics in Statistics
Introduction to Biostatistical Methods for Public Health
Linear Optimization
Introduction to Biostatistics
Introduction to Clinical Trials I
Practicum in Clinical Trial Data Analysis and Interpretation
Statistical Methods for Bioscience I
Statistical Methods for Bioscience II
Statistical Methods for Spatial Data
Statistical Methods I
Statistical Methods II
Data Science Computing Project
Mathematical Statistics I
Introduction to Statistical Inference
Statistical Learning
Professional Skills in Data Science
Data Science Practicum
Introduction to Stochastic Processes
Statistical Methods for Clinical Trials
Statistical Methods for Epidemiology
Special Topics in Statistics
Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
Capstone
ATM OCN 405 AOS Senior Capstone Seminar1
Electives11
Topics in Meteorology
Meteorological Measurements
Global Climate Processes
Radar and Satellite Meteorology
Synoptic Laboratory I: The Frontal Cyclone
Synoptic Laboratory II: Mesoscale Meteorology
Severe Storm Forcasting and Observation
Teacher Workshop in Satellite Meteorology
Teacher Workshop in Earth System Science - Web
Bioclimatology
Tropical Meteorology
Past Climates and Climatic Change
Environmental Biophysics
Atmospheric Dispersion and Air Pollution
Computational Methods in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Climatological Analysis
Challenging Problems of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Geophysical Fluid Dynamics I
Geophysical Fluid Dynamics II
Laboratory in Rotating Fluid Dynamics
Introduction to Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics
Cloud Physics
Atmospheric Chemistry
Radiation in the Atmosphere and Ocean
Analysis of Atmospheric Systems
Synoptic-Dynamic Laboratory
ATM OCN 652
ATM OCN 653
Introduction to Physical Oceanography
Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Thesis
Senior Thesis
Directed Study 2
Directed Study 2
Total Credits27

Residence and quality of work

  • 2.000 GPA in all ATM OCN and major courses
  • 2.000 GPA on 15 upper-level credits in the major, taken in Residence. 3 
  • 15 credits in ATM OCN, taken on campus

Honors in the Major

Students may declare Honors in the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Major in consultation with the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences undergraduate advisor.

Requirements

To earn Honors in the Major in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, students must satisfy both the requirements for the major (above) and the following additional requirements:

University Degree Requirements

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. Recognize and describe the fundamental principles and processes associated with the dynamics and thermodynamics of geophysical fluid flows, the basic physics of clouds, aerosols, and precipitation.
  2. Recognize and describe the fundamental principles and processes associated with radiation and atmospheric and oceanic radiative transfer.
  3. Demonstrate critical thinking skills by identifying a problem, identifying the required information to solve that problem; and formulating and interpreting solutions to that problem using appropriate analytical and/or computational techniques.
  4. Apply diagnostic tools to to analyses and numerical model output to diagnose, describe, and interpret the fundamental dynamical and thermodynamical processes at work in synoptic-scale, mesoscale, and large-scale weather systems and climate circulations.
  5. Apply fundamental radiative transfer theory to interpret remotely-sensed observations of atmospheric and oceanic phenomena.
  6. Design and conduct experiments and/or analyze data to test hypotheses in an area of atmospheric or climate sciences.
  7. Demonstrate effective scientific communication skills through development and delivery of oral presentations (including poster presentations) and written reports and case studies.
First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
MATH 221 (QR-B)5MATH 2224
Communication A3CHEM 1085
Foreign Language4Literature Breadth3
ATM OCN 100 or 1014Biological Science Breadth3
 16 15
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
MATH 2344Humanities Breadth3
PHYSICS 2075PHYSICS 2085
Biological Science Breadth3COMP SCI 301 (or any computer science course)3
Ethnic Studies4Social Science Breadth4
 16 15
Third Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
ATM OCN 3103ATM OCN 3113
ATM OCN 3303ATM OCN 3403
Literature Breadth3Biological Science Breadth 3
ADV MATH/COMP SCI/STATS3Humanities Breadth 3
Social Science Breadth4Elective3
 16 15
Fourth Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
ATM OCN 400 or higher3ATM OCN 400 or higher3
ATM OCN 400 or higher3ATM OCN 400 level or higher3
Communication B4ATM OCN 699 or elective3
Social Science Breadth4ATM OCN 4051
 Elective3
 14 13
Total Credits 120

General Advising

Any student interested in the atmospheric and oceanic sciences major should meet with the AOS undergraduate advisor, Eric Schueffner, to discuss steps to complete the necessary prerequisite coursework for the major. Eric can be reached at 608-890-3231 or elschueffner@wisc.edu. A Major Declaration Form must be completed by the student and authorized by Professor Michael Morgan to complete the major declaration process. Professor Morgan can be reached at 608-265-8159 or mcmorgan@wisc.edu. Students should bring a current DARS report to their individual advising appointment.

CAREER ADVISING

The Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences encourages majors to begin working on their career exploration and preparation soon after arriving on campus. We partner with SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science. L&S graduates are in high demand by employers and graduate programs. It is important that students are career ready at the time of graduation, and we are committed to your success.

L&S career resources

SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students leverage the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, and liberal arts degree; explore and try out different career paths; participate in internships; prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications; and network with professionals in the field (alumni and employers). In short, SuccessWorks helps students in the College of Letters & Science discover themselves, find opportunities, and develop the skills they need for success after graduation.

SuccessWorks can also assist students in career advising, résumé and cover letter writing, networking opportunities, and interview skills, as well as course offerings for undergraduates to begin their career exploration early in their undergraduate career. 

Students should set up their profiles in Handshake to take care of everything they need to explore career events, manage their campus interviews, and apply to jobs and internships from 200,000+ employers around the country.

Professors

Tripoli, Greg (chair)
Ackerman, Steve
Desai, Ankur
Hitchman, Matt
Holloway, Tracey
Martin, Jonathan
Morgan, Morgan
Petty, Grant
Vimont, Dan

ASSOCIATE PROFESSORS

Back, Larissa
L'Ecuyer, Tristan