Introduction and comments on books

A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation (Petty)

Atmospheric radiation means transfer, emission, absorption and scattering of electromagnetic waves (including visible light, infra-red and microwave) in the atmosphere. It does not involve radioactivity.

This book was introduced in the newsletter of American Geophysical Union by Pincus (2004), and as I read the review I ordered the book. It is just as described in the review, and I enjoyed it.

This is a university lecture note for atmospheric science major students, but not for atmospheric radiation experts. Thus it is useful for such person as I who am not a radiation expert but sometimes need to understand what radiation experts say.

There are more formal textbooks such as Goody and Yung (1989), Liou (2002), Thomas and Stamnes (1999). (By "formal" I mean that they contain relatively rigorous derivations of mathematical formulations, though they are probably not rigorous at all to the view of mathematicians.) When I was a graduate student, my teacher assigned us students to read excerpts of the books of Goody (first edition 1964) and Liou (first edition 1980). (He was a dynamicist but he thought radiation also essential. As I paraphrase, the motion of atmosphere is something like a heat engine, and we must know its heat source and heat sink in order to understand it.) When the forcing diminished I could not continue reading those textbooks. Fortunately we (Japanese-speaking atmospheric science students) were benefited by Aida (1982) that rather informally introduced the science. But because of illness and subsequent death of the author, that book was somewhat unfinished and was never updated. [Later the book by Asano (2010) appeared.] And I have not found such book in English before this, though it may be just because of small range of my search.

In order to enjoy this book, the readers must not fear equations with partial differential and multiple integral signs. It is better that they understand them, of course, and it is recommendable to have working knowledge of junior undergraduate level "mathematical methods for physics" (or "mathematical methods for electric engineering" or something similar). They should be familiar with the simplest types of differential equations (that yield polynomials, exponential functions and trigonometric functions), but, it seems not necessary to solve more advanced ones. Situation will be different, of course, if they want to develop new theoretical methods.

The book has a list of textbooks, but no more references. Perhaps the author thought that those readers who want to learn more should take one of the advanced textbooks first.

Information about the book, including errata, is available at the URL [updated 2018-11-08]. The web site of the publisher is

I have made a [Table of contents] which shows page numbers of both the First and the Second editions.


2004-Nov-25; revised 2004-Dec-18; moved 2009-Feb-09; revised 2011-Jan-17, 2017-Nov-09, 2018-Nov-08

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