Abstract: Understanding the structure and the dynamics of the Earth’s atmosphere is a task of great importance. On the one hand, it allows us to predict the weather a few days in advance, which often translates in saving human lives. On the other hand, it gives us the opportunity to understand how the climate will evolve over the next century, as the impacts due to global warming become progressively stronger. In spite of the progress that has been made, however, our understanding of the atmosphere remains incomplete, and many fundamental questions unanswered. In this talk, I will give an overview of some aspects of modern atmospheric physics. I will begin by introducing some concepts and terminology commonly used in the field. I will then discuss how theoretical developments in the last century made weather forecasts possible (and how von Neumann played a crucial role there too!). Finally, I will present a number of problems and open questions about atmospheric phenomena that we still do not understand, with a particular focus on the tropics.
Please note the unusual time (4pm UK = 6am Hawai'i). A recording will be circulated after the talk.