MTMW15-Extra-tropical Weather Systems

Module Provider: Meteorology
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Co-requisites: MTMW11 Fluid Dynamics of the Atmosphere and Oceans
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Prof Suzanne Gray


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

To develop a modern understanding (from the 'potential vorticity
thinking' perspective) of the dynamics of synoptic-scale weather systems
in the extra-tropical latitudes, and to relate this knowledge to

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

  • Provide a suitable mathematical and conceptual description of
mid-latitude, synoptic-scale weather systems.
  • 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 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 Charney analytical models of baroclinic instability
  • Lifecycle of cyclones
  • Scaling of fronts and the semigeostrophic and Sawyer-Eliassen equations
  • Symmetric and convective instability

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Lectures and (un-assessed) problem sheets. Students will give an oral and/or poster presentation on an agreed topic based on a published paper (assessed, 25% of the final mark). Full
course notes and model answers to the problem sheets are provided.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 16
Tutorials 6
Guided independent study 78
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Oral assessment and presentation 25
Class test administered by School 75

Other information on summative assessment:
Oral and/ or poster presentation worth 25%
Class test 75%

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

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

Length of examination:
2 hour exam with a choice of two from three questions in April.

Requirements for a pass:
50% overall.

Reassessment arrangements:
For candidates who have failed, an opportunity to take a resit examination will be provided within the lifetime of the course.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
1) Required text books: Reading lists for meteorology modules are available here

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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