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School of Geography and Environmental Science

Monash Sustainability Institute



Undergraduate Study @ MWAC

What is the study of weather and climate?

Weather and climate are two commonly used terms that are sometimes not clearly understood. Weather is the state of the atmosphere (or ocean) at a particular point in time over a given region, while climate is a synthesis or generalisation of the weather observed over a longer time period.

Meteorology and climatology represent the study of weather and climate respectively, the difference essentially being the different time scales and approaches used for such study. Meteorologists tend to concern themselves with the analysis of actual weather situations, while climatologists are more concerned with the aggregation of such situations.

For example, a meteorologist is more concerned with the three-dimensional instantaneous structure of the atmosphere, while a climatologist tends to be more concerned with the one- and two-dimensional structure exhibited by long sequences of data. However, in spite of these differences, a basic understanding of atmospheric processes is important to both groups of researchers, as they are each trying to comprehend the same processes and phenomena.

How can you study weather and climate at Monash?

The interdisciplinary program in Atmospheric Science offered through Monash Weather and Climate is available to study at both undergraduate and graduate levels.

At the undergraduate level, the atmospheric science program deals with the structure and evolution of the atmosphere and oceans, including the problems of forecasting the day-to-day weather and assessing the longer-term the climate in the two fluids. The subject addresses questions like 'will it rain tomorrow, and why?', and 'what will the weather be like on the weekend?, as well as dealing with the scientific basis for topical issues such as the greenhouse effect and the ozone hole. An important application of the subject is to environmental issues such as atmospheric pollution and climate change.

Atmospheric science plays a role in almost every sector of society including industry, agriculture, health, sport, recreation and everyday life. It is also one of the areas in science with a high public profile. That profile has been reinforced in recent times by the media attention concerning greenhouse climate change, the Antarctic ozone hole, El Niño, and rising sea levels. Atmospheric science is playing an increasingly important role in the development of public policy.

Students who wish to study atmospheric science as a major discipline need to be enrolled in the Bachelor of Science degree, the Bachelor of Environmental Science degree, or a double degree program that includes Science. The Atmospheric Science program is based at the Clayton Campus.

The Atmospheric Science program is available as major and minor components of an undergraduate degree. Courses available include:

To help guide a sensible choice of units at each level, some common patterns of enrolment, or recommended pathways in Atmospheric Science have been identified to assist students who intend to proceed to studies at third-year level, and possibly to further studies at Honours or postgraduate level.

A Minor sequence in Atmospheric Science comprises:

A Major sequence in Atmospheric Science comprises:

  • a minor sequence in atmospheric science, and
  • at least one of ATM3040, ATM3261 (offered by Geography) or ATM3370 (offered by Geography), and
  • The remaining 18 points from eligible level 2 and level 3 units as listed in the handbook, with a total of at least 18 points at level 3.

In addition to these requirements, MTH2010 and MTH2032 must be completed as prerequisites for some level three units.

For further information:

Contact undergraduate course coordinators Dr Richard Wardle (School of Mathematical Sciences) and Professor Nigel Tapper (School of Geography and Environmental Science).

Or see the 2010 University Undergraduate Handbook entry.