MT4YF-Numerical Modelling of Atmosphere and Oceans

Module Provider: Meteorology
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Co-requisites: MT24A Atmosphere and Ocean Dynamics and MT24C Numerical Methods for Environmental Science
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Prof Pier Luigi Vidale


Summary module description:
Numerical models are central to predicting the evolution of fluid flows. including weather forecasting and climate simulation. Atmosphere and ocean science has advanced rapidly by using models: they represent the essence of what we know about fluid behaviour and enable us to obtain approximate solutions for complex, nonlinear problems where analytic solutions are unknown. This module considers the formulation of model equations, schemes to solve them numerically and ways in which model performance can be evaluated using knowledge of fluid properties and phenomena. You will also implement idealised models yourself to solve problems using computer programming.

To show how numerical schemes can be designed to preserve fundamental properties of fluid flows. To bring you up to speed with the core components of state-of-the-art numerical models for the atmosphere and oceans and their use in predicting weather and climate.

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

-Recognise the strengths and weaknesses of the main numerical methods used to model the atmosphere and oceans and explain their derivation.
-Design numerical models to solve atmosphere/ocean problems.
-Implement idealised models by programming in MATLAB, FORTRAN or C++.
-Evaluate models using benchmark problems and known properties of the system.

Additional outcomes:
Knowledge of the key historical events in the development of numerical models of the atmospheres and oceans.

Outline content:

1.Fundamental properties of atmospheres and oceans and the first numerical models
2.Finite difference methods: Advection and diffusion in 1-D
3.Fluids on rotating Earth and 2-D finite difference schemes
4.Wave dispersion in finite difference models
5.Alternative numerical methods for transport by the flow
6.Using complex nonlinear models (chaos and predictability)
7.Advanced methods - discrete representation of spatial distributions
8.Parameterization of unresolved processes
9.Other parameterizations in climate or weather prediction models


Weeks 1&2: Solve 1-D advection and diffusion problems
Weeks 3-5: Project 1: Wind driven ocean gyre modelled using shallow water equations
Weeks 7-9: Project 2: Ensemble simulation with a reduced model of El Nino Southern Oscillation
Week 10: Test during practical session

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Lectures including some problem solving within class in small groups. Practicals in the computing lab, working individually but with help from lecturer and demonstrators.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 9
Practicals classes and workshops 18
Guided independent study 73
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Report 70
Class test administered by School 30

Other information on summative assessment:
Two projects solving atmosphere/ocean problems by designing numerical models and implementing them using computer programs. Each project assessed by a scientific report on it. A 90 minute test during the week 9 practical session.

Formative assessment methods:

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:
    90 minute

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 50% overall

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Re-assessment by examination in August/September

    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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