Fundamentals of Atmospheric Science

Instructor Information

My name is William Brune, a distinguished professor of Meteorology.

The atmosphere creates and sustains life. It's amazing and it's important to know how it works. I love teaching this course because it contains all the essential elements of the science behind the weather. I have been fascinated by the weather ever since I was a little kid, sitting on the curb in front of my house in Houston, Texas, watching the huge thunderstorms build and build and build until you knew the rain was coming soon and heavy. Usually I got inside before I got soaked, but not always! As a physics graduate student, I tried to focus on Astrophysics, but I knew I loved studying the atmosphere the most because it is so unpredictable and so relevant to our lives, so as soon as I could, I returned to studying and teaching about the atmosphere here at Penn State. I have taught Meteo 300 in residence four times, three in the past five years.

My research specialty is atmospheric chemistry, but to understand the chemistry, you need to understand the atmosphere and all of its physics. I've been at Penn State 27 years and have had a research group this whole time. It consists of graduate students, research associates who have Ph.D.s, engineers, and undergraduates - sometimes even sophomores. We have participated in more than 40 field studies of the atmosphere using both towers on the ground and airplanes. We have studied the atmosphere in places as far north as northern Sweden and as far south as New Zealand, and many places in between. On aircraft, we have flown all over the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the northern Atlantic Ocean. In 2012, we were part of the Deep Convective Clouds and Chemistry study and spent our time flying around thunderstorms in the central United States. That was fun!

Penn State research at the entrance to the NASA DC-8 aircraft in Salina KS during the Deep Convective Clouds and Chemistry study in summer 2012.
Credit: W. Brune
Penn State research team
Penn State research team on a tower in Bakersfield CA during the CALNEX study in 2011. I am in the back.
Credit: W. Brune