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Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (ATOC)

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Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (ATOC)



  • Burnside Hall, Room 945
  • 805 Sherbrooke Street West
  • Montreal, Quebec H3A 0B9
  • Telephone: 514-398-3764
  • Fax: 514-398-6115
  • Email: undergraduateinfo [at] meteo [dot] mcgill [dot] ca
  • Website: www.mcgill.ca/meteo

About Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

About Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

The Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences offers, at the undergraduate level, a broad range of courses and degree programs in atmospheric science (meteorology). At the postgraduate level, programs of study are offered in physical oceanography, air-sea interaction, and climate research as well as in different branches of atmospheric science. The study of atmospheric science is based largely on physics and applied mathematics. All required courses except those at the introductory level generally have prerequisites or corequisites in physics, mathematics, and atmospheric science. One of the goals of the discipline is to develop the understanding necessary to improve our ability to predict the weather, but atmospheric science is more than weather forecasting.

Another important area of study focuses on the possible changes in global climate caused by the changing chemical composition of the atmosphere. The approach is always quantitative. Like other parts of physics, atmospheric science attempts to create theoretical models of its complex processes, as a means of analyzing the motion and composition of the air, its thermodynamic behaviour, and its interaction with radiation and with the solid or liquid surface beneath it.

From one viewpoint, the atmosphere may be studied as a large volume of gas by the methods of fluid mechanics: winds, circulation patterns, turbulence, and energy and momentum exchanges are the ideas employed in this approach. Alternatively, the atmosphere may be studied from the point of view of its detailed physics: how water condenses in the air, how cloud droplets make rain, how sunlight warms the ground and the ground warms the air above it by radiation and convection, and how the atmosphere and ocean interact to shape the weather and climate. A comprehensive understanding requires both viewpoints, and these are reflected in the curriculum.

The Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences offers four main programs in Atmospheric Science: Honours, Major, Minor, and a Joint Major in Atmospheric Science and Physics. The Honours program is meant for students with high standing. It is based on courses similar to those in the Major program, but provides the opportunity to take advanced optional courses. The Major program, although somewhat less intensive, satisfies the requirements for a professional career as a meteorologist, and like the Honours program equips the student to undertake postgraduate study in meteorology, atmospheric science, and related sciences (physical oceanography) at any of the leading universities. The Department also offers a special one-year Diploma program to B.Sc. or B.Eng. graduates.

A degree in Atmospheric Science can lead to a professional career in government service or private industry. The Meteorological Service of Canada has traditionally been the main employer of graduating students, but certain provincial governments and environmental consulting and engineering firms also employ graduates trained in atmospheric science. Positions in teaching and research are available to graduates with M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees. Students interested in any of the undergraduate programs should consult the undergraduate adviser, Room 946, Burnside Hall.

—2013-2014 (last updated Mar. 21, 2013) (disclaimer)

Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (ATOC) Faculty

Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (ATOC) Faculty

John R. Gyakum
Emeritus Professors
Jacques F. Derome; M.Sc.(McG.), Ph.D.(Mich.), F.R.S.C.
Henry G. Leighton; M.Sc.(McG.), Ph.D.(Alta.)
Lawrence A. Mysak; B.Sc.(Alta.), M.Sc.(Adel.), A.M., Ph.D.(Harv.), F.R.S.C.
Isztar I. Zawadzki; B.Sc.(Buenos Aires), M.Sc., Ph.D.(McG.), F.R.S.C.
Parisa Ariya; B.Sc., Ph.D.(York) (James McGill Professor) (joint appt. with Chemistry)
John R. Gyakum; B.Sc.(Penn.), M.Sc., Ph.D.(MIT)
Man Kong (Peter) Yau; S.B., S.M., Sc.D.(MIT)
Associate Professors
Peter Bartello; M.Sc., Ph.D.(McG.) (joint appt. with Mathematics and Statistics)
Frédéric Fabry; B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D.(McG.) (joint appt. with McGill School of Environment)
Pavlos Kollias; B.Sc., M.Sc.(Athens), Ph.D.(Miami) (Canada Research Chair, Tier 2)
David Straub; B.Sc., M.Sc.(SW Louisiana), Ph.D.(Wash.)
Bruno Tremblay; B.Sc.(McG.), M.Sc.(Car.), Ph.D.(McG.)
Assistant Professors
Yi Huang; B.Sc., M.Sc.(Pekin), Ph.D.(Princ.)
Daniel Kirshbaum; Ph.D.(Wash.)
Jaime Palter; B.Sc., Ph.D.(Duke)
Adjunct Professors
Ashu Dastoor; Ph.D.(Indian IT)
Luc Fillion; Ph.D.(McG.)
Pierre Gauthier; Ph.D.(McG.)
Hai Lin; Ph.D.(McG.)
Damon Matthews; Ph.D.(Vic., BC)
Seok-Woo Son; Ph.D.(Penn.)
Associate Member
Michel Bourqui; Ph.D.(ETH Zurich)
—2013-2014 (last updated Feb. 26, 2013) (disclaimer)

Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) - Minor Atmospheric Science (18 credits)

This Minor may be taken in conjunction with any program in the Faculty of Science.

For more information, see Minor Atmospheric Science (18 credits).

Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) - Liberal Program - Core Science Component Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (48 credits)

Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) - Major Atmospheric Science (61 credits)

For more information, see Major Atmospheric Science (61 credits).

Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) - Major Atmospheric Science and Physics (67 credits)

This Major provides a solid basis for postgraduate study in meteorology, atmospheric physics, or related fields, as well as the necessary preparation for embarking on a professional career as a meteorologist directly after the B.Sc. ...

For more information, see Major Atmospheric Science and Physics (67 credits).

Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) - Honours Atmospheric Science (73 credits)

72-73 credits ...

For more information, see Honours Atmospheric Science (73 credits).

Diploma in Meteorology (30 credits)

The Department offers an intensive, one-year program in theoretical and applied meteorology to B.Sc. or B.Eng. graduates of suitable standing in physics, applied mathematics or other appropriate disciplines, leading to a Diploma in Meteorology. The program is designed for students with little or no previous background in meteorology who wish to direct their...

For more information, see Diploma in Meteorology (30 credits).

Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (ATOC) Related Programs

Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (ATOC) Related Programs

Internship Year in Science (IYS)

Internship Year in Science (IYS)

Revision, August 2013. Start of revision.

IYS is a pregraduate work experience program available to eligible students and normally taken between their U2 and U3 years. For more information, see Internship Programs – Industrial Practicum (IP) and Internship Year in Science (IYS).

The following programs are also available with an internship component:

  • Major in Atmospheric Science;
  • Honours in Atmospheric Science.

Revision, August 2013. End of revision.

Earth System Science Interdepartmental Major

Earth System Science Interdepartmental Major

This program is offered by the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences; Earth and Planetary Sciences; and Geography.

Students in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences interested in this program should contact Professor Bruno Tremblay (bruno [dot] tremblay [at] mcgill [dot] ca). For more information, see Earth System Science (ESYS).

—2013-2014 (last updated Aug. 15, 2013) (disclaimer)
Faculty of Science—2013-2014 (last updated Mar. 21, 2013) (disclaimer)