ATSC 303 · Methods in Atmospheric Science

An introduction to instrumentation used in monitoring the state of the atmosphere; a brief survey of methods of analysis of meteorological data. [2-2-0] Prerequisite: One of EOSC 211, CPSC 111 and one of ATSC 201, GEOB 200.

Course Availability & Schedule

Course Webpage

 Alternate year course

Even year start – Term 2

Learning Goals

This course focuses on in-situ weather instruments.

By the end of this course, you should be able to:
• use traditional and electronic weather instruments
• use and program modern data loggers
• explain how weather instruments work and describe their accuracy
• design and implement measurement strategies
• analyze data, including error propagation
• build new sensors using microcontrollers such as Arduino or Raspberry Pi.  


Prof. Roland Stull, with help from Chris Rodell, Tim Chui, Dr. Rosie Howard


Selected readings from textbooks with free online access via the UBC Library:

"Meteorological Measurement Systems" (2001) by Fred V. Brock and Scott J. Richardson
"Meteorological Measurements and Instrumentation" (2015) by R. Giles Harrison
"Springer Handbook of Atmospheric Measurements" (2021), edited by Thoms Foken.


Online CIMO (WMO-8) Guide to Meteorological Instruments and Methods of Observation.

Course Content

Lecture Topics

Week Topic Chapter of Brock's book
1 Overview, and review of electrical circuits 1, Appendix A
2 Thermometry 4, Appendix D and B
3 Data Loggers, Sampling, and analog-to-Digital Conversion 13, Appendix C
4 Barometry 2
5 Static Performance Characteristics of Instruments 3
6 Hygrometry 5
7 Dynamic Performance Characteristics of Instruments 6
8 Anemometry 7
9 Precipitation Rate 9
10 Solar and Earth Radiation 10
11 Visibility, Cloud Height, Air Pollution Sensors 11
12 Building and programming microcontrollers for weather instruments  
13 Upper Air Measurements 12
14 Sensible and Latent Heat Fluxes, and Field Program Design Review and Catch-up