St. Cloud State University
Atmospheric Vertical Structure and the First Law of Thermodynamics part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
This sequential set of in-class and homework problems concerns applications of the First Law of Thermodynamics. In the homework, students are first asked to compute and plot potential temperatures of specified adiabats. In a second assignment, the potential temperature from an observed sounding is computed and plotted to develop a framework for beginning to understand the stratification of the atmosphere. These activities are intended to help students discover the importance and utility of conservation principles derived from the First Law of Thermodynamics. In addition, they provide a first step in evolving from the p-V diagrams the students have seen in their physics coursework toward the thermodynamic diagrams used in meteorology.