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Atmospheric Science

Sun sets over cottages and beach homes along the dunes at Atlantic Beach.

Atmospheric Science

The undergraduate meteorology program at NC State began in 1969 within the former Department of Geosciences. Graduate-level courses were introduced and the M.S. degree in meteorology was authorized in 1976. The Ph.D. degree program in atmospheric sciences was initiated with the establishment of the Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences in 1981. The Atmospheric Sciences program at NC State has grown significantly and the total research grants and contracts currently amount to several million dollars. The number of graduate students enrolled is about sixty of which over one-third are Ph.D. students.

Admission Requirements

Students applying for admission to the M.S. program in atmospheric sciences should have an adequate background in atmospheric sciences and/or in the appropriately related sciences and mathematics. The latter would include at least three semesters of calculus, two of general physics, and one of general chemistry. Students with little or no background in atmospheric sciences would be expected to take selected undergraduate courses as prerequisites and to remove other deficiencies.

Research Facilities

The following on-campus and off-campus facilities are available for graduate and faculty research in atmospheric sciences:

On Campus

  • Two on-campus high-performance computing centers, including both college and university Linux clusters.
  • A 65-computer Linux lab in the MEAS department for classroom-based instruction, real-time weather data processing and analysis.
  • Cloud-aerosol interactions laboratory housing a cloud condensation nucleus spectrometer, a haze nuclei spectrometer, a rain simulator and supporting equipment.
  • Mobile research laboratory (26 feet GMC Sierra Van) instrumented for pollutant (e.g., O3, NOx, SO2, H2O2) and meteorological monitoring.
  • Air Quality Laboratory for analysis of speciated non-methane hydrocarbon and trace gases.
  • Phytotron for controlled atmospheric pollutant exposure.
  • Scanning electron microscope and X-ray diffraction spectrometer.
  • Ion Chromatograph.
  • Access to National Weather Service Forecast Office on the NC State Centennial Campus.
  • Two atmospheric sounding systems, one at Jordan Hall for full tropospheric profiles and one that is transportable for lower tropospheric profiles.


  • Meteorological and air quality monitoring networks of federal and state agencies.
  • Research farm instrumentation for agricultural meteorology.
  • Coastal Engineering Research Center Field Facility of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Duck, NC.

Graduate students may also pursue a minor field outside their major discipline, although a minor is not required. The areas that traditionally have been of interest to our students are environmental sciences, physical oceanography, statistics, computer science, mathematics, civil engineering, mechanical and aerospace engineering, electrical engineering, and chemical engineering.

Our faculty members are aware of the need for their students, to outline their sequence of graduate courses early in the program. Therefore, upon request, any faculty member can provide you with a suggested plan of coursework for his area of research interest.

Research Activity

Research is an integral part of graduate study and should be a major consideration in the selection of a graduate program. An M.S. student should determine a general area of research within atmospheric sciences, while a Ph.D. applicant should consider in-depth research on a specific topic. At present, the faculty and graduate students’ research in the atmospheric sciences program at NC State concentrates in the following areas:

  • Air-sea interaction
  • Boundary layer meteorology
  • Climatology
  • Cloud chemistry and microphysics
  • Convective dynamics and physics
  • Geophysical fluid dynamics
  • Meteorological observations and instrumentation
  • Mesoscale processes
  • Satellite remote sensing
  • Storm structure and dynamics
  • Synoptic-dynamic meteorology
  • Tropical meteorology
  • Weather systems and forecasting