MT37E-Dynamics of Weather Systems

Module Provider: Meteorology
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Pre-requisites: MT24A Atmosphere and Ocean Dynamics
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr Remi Tailleux


Summary module description:
Dynamical knowledge of the development of synoptic-scale weather systems
in the extra-tropical latitudes and tropical weather systems,
particularly tropical cyclones, will be developed in this module.

To develop a modern understanding of the dynamics of synoptic-scale
weather systems in the extra-tropical latitudes and tropical weather
systems with a focus on tropical cyclones and to relate this knowledge
to observations.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of this module the student should be able to:

  • Provide a suitable mathematical and conceptual description of
synoptic-scale mid-latitude weather systems and tropical cyclones.
  • Explain, physically and mathematically, the origins of synoptic-scale
vertical motion, waves and cyclones, and develop quantitative estimates
of their properties.
  • Critically assess the relevance of conceptual models through
  • comparison with observations

Additional outcomes:
Students will enhance their skills in the quantitative analysis of
weather systems, the manipulation of differential equations and the
scaling of atmospheric motions. Students will learn to validate their
calculations through physical principles.

Outline content:

  • Equations for the extra-tropics
  • The quasi-geostrophic equations
  • Potential vorticity thinking
  • Vertical motion and the omega equation
  • Dynamical interpretation of regions of vertical motion in cyclones and
  • Rossby waves
  • Conceptual models of baroclinic and barotropic instability
  • The Eady and analytical models of baroclinic instability
  • Scaling of fronts and the semigeostrophic and Sawyer-Eliassen equations
  • Tropical dynamics
  • Tropical cyclones

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Lectures, (un-assessed) problem sheets, and assessed synoptic practicals
during which the quasi-geostrophic techniques developed during the
course will be used to analyse the development of a real rapidly
developing cyclone. Full course notes and model answers to the problem
sheets are provided.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 15
Practicals classes and workshops 10
Guided independent study 75
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 70
Report 30

Other information on summative assessment:
An extended computer based case study of an intense mid-latitude depression ( Jan 25 2009 ) is used to apply the theoretical principles. A report on this case study is submitted at the start of the Spring term.

Formative assessment methods:
Un-assessed problem sheets will be completed by the students and the
answers discussed during lectures. Model answers will be provided for
these problem sheets.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    2 hour paper

    Requirements for a pass:
    40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    August / September examination only.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 21 December 2016

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