Appendix E – Greek Alphabet and Important Constants in Climatology

The Greek Alphabet and Some Meterology/Climatology Use of Symbols

Name Capital Letter Small Letter A Few Common Climatological Uses
Alpha Α α α – surface albedo, a measure of surface reflectivity
Beta Β β β – rate of change of Coriolis parameter with change in latitude
Gamma Γ γ Γd – dry adiabatic lapse rate (9.8K·km-1 but we’ll use 10°C/km)
Delta Δ δ Δ – the change in some parameter (ex. ΔT = change in temperature)
Epsilon Ε ε ε – the emissivity of a body, the effectiveness of emitting energy from it’s surface
Zeta Ζ ζ ζ – zenith angle – at noon, the angle between the sun and the vertical
Eta Η η
Theta Θ θ θ – angle of a light ray
Iota Ι ι
Kappa Κ κ
Lambda Λ λ λ – wavelength of electromagnetic radiation
Mu Μ μ μm – micrometer (one millionth of a meter), used to measure small wavelengths
Nu Ν ν ν – frequency (number of waves passing a fixed location per second)
Xi Ξ ξ
Omicron Ο ο
Pi Π π π – represents a value of 3.1415926535897932384626… (we’ll use 3.1416)
Rho Ρ ρ ρ – density
Sigma Σ σ Σ – summation, represents “the sum of”
Tau Τ τ τ – perihelion date, when Earth is closest to the Sun in its annual orbit
Upsilon Υ υ
Phi Φ φ Φ – latitude
Chi Χ χ
Psi Ψ ψ
Omega Ω ω ω – angular velocity, how fast an object is rotating


Some Common Constants Used in Equations

Constant Value of the Constant Used in These Equations
Absolute Zero (0K) officially 0K = -273.15°C; we’ll round to -273°C
Stefan-Boltzmann Constant (σ) officially 5.670374419…×10-8 Wm-2K-4; we’ll use 5.67 x 10-8 Wm-2K-4 Stefan-Boltzman Radiation Law
Wein’s Displacement Law
Speed of Light in a Vacuum (co) officially 299,792,458 m/s; we’ll round to 3 x 108 m/s
Speed of Sound
Standard Sea-level Pressure (PSTP) officially 101.325 kPa; we’ll round to 101.3 kPa
Latent Heat of Fusion (Lf) 3.34 x 105 J/kg
Latent Heat of Vapourization (Lv) 2.5 x 106 J/kg


Introduction to Physical Geography Copyright © by R. Adam Dastrup and Susan Smythe. All Rights Reserved.

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