University of Washington
Department of Atmospheric Sciences
Seattle, Washington 98195

The University of Washington was founded in 1861 and is the oldest state-assisted institution of higher education on the Pacific Coast. There are approximately 41,700 students studying in a variety of fields, including arts and sciences, business administration, engineering, and medicine; approximately 8,500 graduate students; and 2,500 faculty members. All of the major earth science disciplines are represented on campus, including the Departments of Oceanography, Geophysics, Geology, and Forestry and institutes with programs in environmental studies, quaternary sciences, and marine studies. Comprehensive intercollegiate and intramural athletics programs are offered, plus a range of musical and cultural programs. The beautiful green campus encompasses 680 acres and is bordered on the east by Lake Washington and on the south by Lake Union. The University of Washington is ranked among the top twenty universities in the United States and is an outstanding center of academic excellence in the Northwest. A virtual tour of the campus is available at

There are typically about 60 to 70 graduate students in the atmospheric sciences from a variety of disciplines: physics, chemistry, engineering, atmospheric or geophysical sciences, and applied mathematics. Opportunities are broad enough that each of these backgrounds is valuable for specific fields within the atmospheric sciences. However, students of atmospheric sciences should have in common a background in the fundamentals of physics and applied mathematics and an interest in complex natural phenomena.

The Community
Seattle lies between Lake Washington and Puget Sound, with the Cascade Range to the east and the Olympic Mountains to the west. Easily accessible are skiing, boating, and hiking, in addition to fine restaurants, theaters, opera, ballet, symphony, and sports events such as can be found in a cosmopolitan area. The public transportation system is good, and there are many biking trails and parks within the city.

Programs of study and degree requirements
The Department of Atmospheric Sciences offers programs of graduate study leading to the degrees of Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy. The department also cooperates in offering studies leading to degrees of M.S. and Ph.D. under the interdepartmental Geophysics and Atmospheric Chemistry programs and under less formal arrangements with other degree-granting units on campus. The department maintains active programs in atmospheric chemistry, atmospheric dynamics, atmospheric radiation, boundary-layer processes, cloud and aerosol research, glaciology, and planetary atmospheres. Research areas of current emphasis include global climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion, acid rain, mesoscale meteorology and forecasting, ocean-atmosphere interaction, and extended-range forecasting. These research efforts employ a wide range of research methods, including laboratory experimentation, field observations using surface or airborne platforms, remote sensing from satellites, numerical modeling, and mathematical analysis. In some of these activities, there is close cooperation with the nearby Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratories at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Regional Center and through the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean (JISAO).

For most students, the first year of study is devoted largely to basic courses in atmospheric sciences and mathematical methods. Virtually all students devote at least half-time to research. Research projects and graduate courses in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences are closely related, and the well-prepared graduate student may expect to begin research work rather quickly.

Facilities & Resources
Synoptic and real-time weather data are received from a wide range of national and local sources. Most of these data are available to students on department workstations or on the department Web sites. Current satellite pictures and weather maps are displayed in the map room and are archived for use in research. Projection systems in classrooms support the instructional use of weather information for map discussions and other applications.

A large department network of Sun and Compaq UNIX workstations provide both instructional and research computing. The networks and file servers provide access to an array of software and data storage devices within the department and are linked to supercomputer facilities at NCAR, SDSC, NCSA, and NOAA. The department also maintains a student computing lab that includes both UNIX workstations and PCs.

An instrumented Convair 580 research aircraft; a mobile Doppler radar; and a series of cold rooms, clean rooms, and chemistry laboratories are maintained by the cloud and aerosol research group. A state-of-the-art clean room and laboratory for research on trace gases in the atmosphere has recently been completed for the air chemistry group, a joint atmospheric sciences–chemistry project.

Students in the department have access to a machine shop, two electronic laboratories, field stations, and a slow-speed wind tunnel for instrument calibration.

Expenses and Aid
Tuition and fees are $2,613 per quarter for the academic year. The department pays $1,970 of this amount for research assistants, leaving $153 per quarter in fees for building and activities expenses to be paid by the student. Out-of-state tuition is waived.

Financial Aid: For qualified students, the department offers research assistantships. For the academic year, an assistantship pays from $19,368 to $22,196 per year. Tuition and health insurance are also paid.

Housing/Living Expenses: Housing for students is available on campus through the Housing Assignment Office. On-campus costs are about $900 per month, including meals. Off-campus housing arrangements were typically $400 to $500 per month for group-living rentals.

How to Apply
Applications for admission and financial support should be sent to the address listed below. Applications for research assistantships must be submitted by February 1 for admission the following autumn quarter. The General Test of the GRE is a requirement. Students whose native language is not English must take the TOEFL. Information about applying on line is available at

Who to Contact
Academic Counselor
Department of Atmospheric Sciences
University of Washington
Seattle, Washington 98195

Telephone: 206-543-6471


Academic Faculty

  • Marcia B. Baker, Professor; Ph.D., Washington (Seattle). Cloud microphysics, electrification, entrainment.
  • David S. Battisti, Professor; Ph.D., Washington (Seattle). Large-scale atmosphere-ocean dynamics, tropical circulation, climate dynamics.
  • Christopher S. Bretherton, Professor; Ph.D., MIT. Role of clouds in atmospheric convection, mesoscale meteorology, climate theory.
  • Dale R. Durran, Professor; Ph.D., MIT. Atmospheric dynamics, mesoscale meteorology, numerical modeling.
  • Qiang Fu, Assistant Professor; Ph.D., Utah. Atmospheric radiation, cloud/aerosol/radiation/climate interactions, remote sensing.
  • Gregory J. Hakim, Assistant Professor; Ph.D., SUNY at Albany. Synoptic and mesoscale meteorology, atmospheric dynamics, balanced turbulence.
  • Dennis L. Hartmann, Professor; Ph.D., Princeton. Climate theory, dynamic meteorology, earth radiation budget.
  • Peter V. Hobbs, Professor; Ph.D., Imperial College (London). Aerosol/cloud/precipitation physics, atmospheric chemistry, air pollution, mesoscale meteorology.
  • James R. Holton, Professor and Chair; Ph.D., MIT. Dynamic meteorology, middle atmosphere meteorology.
  • Robert A. Houze, Professor; Ph.D., MIT. Mesoscale meteorology, cloud physics and dynamics, radar meteorology, tropical meteorology.
  • Lyatt Jaeglé, Assistant Professor; Ph.D., Caltech. Atmospheric chemistry, tropospheric and stratospheric photochemistry, chemical modeling of atmospheric observations, influence of human activities on composition of atmosphere.
  • Clifford F. Mass, Professor; Ph.D., Washington (Seattle). Synoptic meteorology, mesoscale meteorology.
  • Peter B. Rhines, Professor; Ph.D., Cambridge. Theoretical physical oceanography, geophysical fluid dynamics, general circulation of the atmosphere and ocean.
  • Edward S. Sarachik, Professor; Ph.D., Brandeis. Atmospheric dynamics, large-scale atmosphere-ocean interactions, greenhouse warming, equatorial dynamics, El Niño/southern oscillation, climate change.
  • John Michael Wallace, Professor; Ph.D., MIT. Atmospheric dynamics, large-scale motions.
  • Stephen G. Warren, Professor; Ph.D., Harvard. Atmospheric radiation, climatology, glaciology.

Research Faculty

  • Robert A. Brown, Research Professor; Ph.D., Washington (Seattle). Planetary boundary layers, air-sea interaction, turbulence, satellite remote sensing.
  • David S. Covert, Research Professor; Ph.D., Washington (Seattle). Aerosol instrumentation, aerosol physics and chemistry, atmospheric chemistry.
  • Ronald J. Ferek, Research Associate Professor; Ph.D., Florida State. Atmospheric chemistry, global tropospheric chemistry, acid precipitation.
  • Thomas C. Grenfell, Research Professor; Ph.D., Washington (Seattle). Atmospheric radiation, radiative transfer, microwave remote sensing, sea-ice optics, microwave theory.
  • Dean A. Hegg, Research Professor; Ph.D., Washington (Seattle). Atmospheric chemistry, cloud physics.
  • Igor V. Kamenkovich, Research Assistant Professor; Ph.D., MIT. Atmosphere–ocean coupled modeling.
  • Gary A. Maykut, Research Professor; Ph.D., Washington (Seattle). Polar air-sea-ice interaction, radiative transfer in ice and snow.
  • Bradley F. Smull, Research Associate Professor; Ph.D., Washington (Seattle). Mesoscale and radar meteorology; tropical meteorology; large-scale atmosphere-ocean interactions.
  • James E. Tillman, Research Professor; M.S., MIT. Mars meteorology, humidity and temperature instrumentation, planetary boundary layer.
  • Sandra E. Yuter, Research Assistant Professor; Ph.D., Washington (Seattle). Physical meteorology, mesoscale meteorology, radar and remote sensing.

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