Introduction to atmos

What this package does

atmos is meant to be a library of utility code for use in atmospheric sciences. Its main functionality is currently to take input variables (like pressure, virtual temperature, water vapor mixing ratio, etc.) and information about what assumptions you’re willing to make (hydrostatic? low water vapor? ignore virtual temperature correction? use an empirical formula for equivalent potential temperature?), and from that calculate any desired output variables that you request and can be calculated.

Variable names

To make coding simpler by avoiding long names for quantities, a set of fairly reasonable short-forms for different quantities are used by this package. For example, air density is represented by “rho”, and air temperature by “T”. For a complete list of quantities and their abbreviations, see the documentation for atmos.calculate() or atmos.FluidSolver.


By default, all quantities are input and output in SI units. Notably, pressure quantities are input and output in Pascals, and temperature quantities are in degrees Kelvin. A full list of units for different variables is available in the documentation for atmos.calculate() or atmos.FluidSolver. These units can be overridden with keyword arguments of the form {quantity name}_unit or {quantity name}_units. Specifying units makes it so that both inputs and outputs of the quantity will be in the specified units.

To get pressure in hPa:

>>> import atmos
>>> atmos.calculate('p', p_units='hPa', Tv=273., rho=1.27)

To specify mixing ratio in g/kg:

>>> import atmos
>>> atmos.calculate('RH', rv=1, rvs=0.002, rv_unit='g/kg')

Note that either “_unit” or “_units” can be used, and that units must be specified for each quantity independently.

Unit names are the same as in the Pint package, with the exception that relative humidity can have units of “percent” or “fraction”. Remember that C in Pint is Coulombs, while degC is degrees Celsius.


By default, a set of (what are hopefully) fairly reasonable assumptions are used by atmos.FluidSolver and atmos.calculate(). These can be added to or removed from by tuples of string options supplied as keyword arguments add_assumptions and remove_assumptions, respectively, or completely overridden by supplying a tuple for the keyword argument assumptions. For information on what default assumptions are used and all assumptions available, see the documentation for atmos.calculate() or atmos.FluidSolver.

Requests and Feedback

This module is in ongoing development, and feedback is appreciated. In particular, if there is functionality you would like to see or equations that should be added (or corrected), please e-mail mcgibbon (at) uw {dot} edu.

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