Greg McFarquhar                                        University of Illinois


Teaching: My goal in  teaching is to share the excitement I feel in observing and understanding the Earth’s atmosphere with graduate and undergraduate students, and also with school age children and members of the public. My motivation is to train the next generation of atmospheric scientists and to give non-specialists, who will likely never again study meteorology, the opportunity to understand and explain atmospheric processes they will experience throughout their lives. I feel that inspiring and mentoring the next generation of atmospheric scientists is the most important aspect of a scientist’s career.


My teaching philosophy is to encourage students to develop critical thinking skills, to inspire them to develop the same excitement about atmospheric phenomena that I feel, and to challenge them to reach their maximum potential. After my course, I hope students will have gained sufficient appreciation and understanding of the atmosphere that they want to evaluate, rather than merely describe, any meteorological situation they encounter. For both graduate and undergraduate courses, I utilize active learning techniques help students to understand rather than to memorize course material.


ATMS 100: Introduction to Meteorology: Introduces the student to the basic concepts and principles of meteorology via the interpretation of weather maps and charts; uses current weather information to illustrate key concepts, emphasizes the physical atmospheric processes responsible for weather. By the end of the class students will be able to interpret and make basic weather forecasts as well as be able to explain basic atmospheric phenomena.
ATMS 120: Severe and Hazardous Weather: Most extreme manifestations of weather and climate are analyzed in terms of their physical basis and their historical, economic and human consequences. Emphasis is placed on the interplay between technological advances, the evolution of meteorology as a science, and the impacts of extreme weather (winter storms, floods, severe thunderstorms, hurricanes, El Nino). Technological advances include satellites, weather radars and profilers, and computer models used for weather prediction. Topics are discussed by drawing on examples of current weather.
ATMS 301: Atmospheric Thermodynamics: Atmospheric thermodynamic principles form the foundation for almost every other major topic in atmospheric science, including atmospheric dynamics, cloud and precipitation physics, and weather forecasting. This course provides the quantitative introduction of thermodynamic principles as they relate to atmospheric processes. Thermodynamic laws and their mathematical description, moist processes in the atmosphere, thermodynamic diagrams and concepts of atmospheric stability are discussed in the class. The relation of these concepts to “weather” is emphasized in the class. Particular emphasis is placed on the quantitative aspect of the subject, applying calculus and physics knowledge to processes in the atmosphere.
ATMS306: Cloud Physics: The most fundamental and complex problems in climate and weather research today are our poor understandings of the basic properties of clouds and our inability to quantitatively determine the many effects cloud processes have on weather and climate. This course develops a quantitative understanding of the microphysical processes occurring within clouds through use of in-situ and remote sensing observations, modeling and theoretical studies. Topics studied include history of cloud physics, in-situ measurement techniques, observations, review of thermodynamics and dynamics, aerosol properties, composition, sources and sinks, nucleation of cloud drops, growth of cloud drops in, initiation, development and growth of precipitation in warm clouds, cold-cloud processes, cloud electrification, radar/lidar observations of clouds, observed microphysical structure and evolution, applications of cloud physics, weather modification, and modeling of cloud processes, bulk and bin-resolved schemes.
ATMS492: Capstone Research in the Atmospheric Sciences: In this class, research projects are offerred to undergraduate students. The topics are varied depending on the interest of the student, and range from the history of cloud physics, controls of ice crystal aspect ratios, and new definitions of the rapid intensification of hurricanes.
ATMS 504 (formerly 401): Physical Meteorology: Physical meteorology is a core course that most incoming graduate students take, and examines the physical processes that are occurring in the atmosphere. The class emphasizes quantitative problem solving techniques in order for students to develop the tools and quantitative reasoning techniques they need in order to conduct graduate-level research. Topics covered include atmospheric thermodynamics (thermodynamic variables and systems; ideal gas law; laws of thermodynamics; water vapor in the air; adiabatic processes; thermodynamic diagrams; moist air thermodynamics; atmospheric process charts; stability analysis; Clausius-Clapeyron equation), cloud and aerosol physics (aerosols; size distributions; homogeneous and heterogeneous nucleation of cloud drops; warm rain process; ice nucleation; cold rain process), and atmospheric radiation (electromagnetic spectrum; radiometric quantities; measurement of radiation and clouds; blackbodies; radiative equilibrium; absorption and scattering).
ATMS 510 (formerly 521): Precipitation Physics: This course examine physical processes occurring in clouds that are responsible for the production of precipitation. Topics covered include the importance and history of cloud physics, in-situ measurement techniques for clouds, observed properties of clouds, thermodynamics of dry and moist air, mixing and convection, aerosols in the atmosphere, droplet nucleation, droplet growth by condensation, droplet growth by coalescence, raindrop breakup, ice crystal nucleation, dffusional growth of ice crystals, ice crystal aggregation, accretional growth of graupel and hail, secondary ice crystal production, planned and inadvertent weather modification, and modeling of cloud processes using bulk and bin-resolved schemes.
ATMS 512 (formerly 497K/597K): Clouds & Climate:  The key uncertainty in future predictions of Earth’s climate is the feedback of clouds on water and energy budgets. Much is unknown about these feedbacks and there is consierable ongoing research on this topic. This course challenges students to critically evaluate research conducted in this field over the last 10 years through examination of recent research articles. The following topics are addressed to examine the role of clouds in the climate system: aerosols and aerosol cloud interactions, direct, semi-direct and indirect aerosol effects, in-situ measurements of clouds, properties of liquid and ice clouds, precipitation mechanisms and representation in models, scattering by cloud particles and model representations, remote sensing of cloud properties, and representation of clouds in climate models.
ATMS 571: Professional Development in the Atmospheric Sciences: This course is offerred to incoming graduate students to the department and is aimed at furthering the professional development of these students as new members of the department and as professional scientists.  This course fills many gaps that academic training does not provide. Examples of topics covered include how to write a publish a journal article and thesis, how to present seminars and conference talks, how to write a resume, employment opportunities in the atmospheric sciences and research resources in the atmospheric sciences.