+ Atmospheric Science – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \

Atmospheric Science

The mission of Atmospheric Science at HWS is to conduct the disciplinary study of the atmosphere that includes both its weather and climate. Our students and faculty are passionate about understanding weather and climate systems and applying that knowledge to solve scientific, environmental, and societal challenges. Our mission is to excel in educating undergraduate students and supporting collaborative undergraduate research in atmospheric science and areas complementary to atmospheric science. We aim to provide students with the scientific basis and knowledge to bring atmospheric sciences into their future endeavors. We embrace a cross-disciplinary perspective that is grounded in both rigorous scientific exploration of atmospheric systems and processes, as well as a recognition that human, natural, and atmospheric systems are intricately intertwined.

The Geoscience Department at Hobart and William Smith Colleges offers a wide variety of courses to develop a self-tailored, and individually-advised, major that explores both weather and climate. The Geoscience major and Atmospheric Science minor allow for a focus on the atmospheric sciences and the ability to gain the foundation necessary to be competitive when pursuing graduate studies and careers in atmospheric science. With small class sizes, atmospheric scientists as faculty, Meteorology/Climatology computer lab space and field instrumentation, abundant opportunities for collaborative research and a summer course in storm chasing, HWS students have a unique opportunity for hands-on learning in atmospheric science.

Geoscience Major with concentration in Atmospheric Science

Students can work with their academic adviser to design their Geoscience major to emphasize a program of study in Atmospheric Science. This major may be paired with a second major or one/two minors at HWS. Examples of these pairings that past Geoscience majors have completed are provided below.

All Geoscience majors completing a Bachelor of Science degree take:

  • Three introductory courses that provide a strong foundation in the Earth Science (Intro Meteorology, Intro Geology, and Intro Hydrogeology)
  • Complementing courses in Physics, Mathematics, and Chemistry
  • Seven Geoscience elective courses at 200-level or greater; The 15 elective courses that are available within the Atmospheric Science program of study are listed below. A selection may come from this listing, as well as any 200-level or greater Geoscience course

Although students develop an individualized pathway to completing their Geoscience major with concentration in Atmospheric Science, a sample course plan for completing the major can be viewed here.

Atmospheric Science Minor

Students can complete an academic minor in Atmospheric Science that can be paired with any major at HWS. To complete the Atmospheric Science minor, students are required to take:

  • Introduction to Meteorology (GEO 182)
  • Weather Analysis (ATMO/GEO 260)
  • Climate Change Science (ATMO 245)
  • Three Atmospheric Science electives at the 200-level or greater. A listing of Atmospheric Science elective courses can be viewed here.

Available Atmospheric Science Courses

GEO 182: Introduction to Meteorology
GEO 215: Hydrometeorology
ATMO 245: Climate Change Science
GEO 255: Global Climates
ATMO/GEO 260: Weather Analysis
GEO 265: Weather Measurements & Computing
GEO 299: Geoscience Field Studies
GEO 325: Paleoclimatology
GEO 350: Synoptic-Dynamic Meteorology I
GEO 351: Synoptic-Dynamic Meteorology II
GEO 355: Mesoscale and Severe Weather
GEO 360: Applied Climatology
GEO 362: Polar Meteorology
GEO 365: Environmental Meteorology
ATMO 450: Atmospheric Science Independent Study Research
ATMO 495: Atmospheric Science Honors Research

Course Catalogue >>

Atmospheric Science

Personalized Education

An education in Atmospheric Science at HWS can be flexible to suit your exact interests - even if you are not 100% sure what those are yet. You may choose to combine your interest in atmospheric science with another topic. Pursuing atmospheric science in a small liberal arts college setting provides HWS students with a rich experience and allows students to more easily pursue multiple academic interests, if desired. Over the past several years, HWS students have chosen to pursue a combination of majors and minors where atmospheric science has played a central role. A few examples:

Geoscience/Atmospheric Science and Biology - learning about how infectious diseases are spread and how this relates to a changing climate

Geoscience/Atmospheric Science and Public Policy - interest in environmental law and dealing with climate change issues

Geoscience/Atmospheric Science and Economics - linking meteorological phenomena to their effects on the economy

Geoscience/Atmospheric Science and Sociology - understanding how people respond to different severe weather and natural disasters

Geoscience/Atmospheric Science and Environmental Studies - exploring the strong linkage between the natural environment and impactful climate changes or weather systems

Meet Our Faculty

A major advantage of attending HWS is access to experts in the area of your interest. Our atmospheric scientists serve as professors, advisers, research collaborators, reference letter writers and partners in your pursuit of a career related to weather and climate. Contact Professor Laird or Professor Metz with questions on the program.