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Thermodynamic Processes in the Atmosphere


As an undergraduate Physics teacher, you can use this set of computer-based tools to help you in teaching the principle of thermodynamics and
about thermodynamic processes.

A fundamental notion in Thermodynamics is a ‘Thermodynamic System’. A thermodynamic system is a part of the universe that is under study; the rest of the universe is considered the ‘environment’ for this system. The separation between the system and the environment may be real (like a wall) or imaginary. Every thermodynamic system has certain measurable quantities called state variables such as pressure, volume, temperature, density, internal energy, entropy, and enthalpy. In this lesson plan, students will learn about thermodynamics processes and their examples in the atmosphere that determine the vertical temperature structure of the atmosphere. This lesson plan will also describe how the thermodynamic stability of the atmosphere changes and how adiabatic processes affect cloud formation, a component of climate. It also includes an interactive simulation tool to enable students to explore the different types of thermodynamic processes in a gaseous system.

Thus, the use of this lesson plan allows you to integrate the teaching of a climate science topic with a core topic in Physics.

Learning Outcome

The tools in this lesson plan will enable students to:

  1. Understand thermodynamic systems and their state variables
  2. Learn about the different thermodynamic processes
  3. Describe thermodynamic adiabatic processes and lapse rates in the atmosphere
  4. Explain how atmospheric thermodynamic processes influence cloud formation
Teacher-contributed lesson plan by Joy Merwin Monteiro, IISER, Pune, India. Want to know more about how to contribute? Contact us.


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