MT24A-Atmosphere and Ocean Dynamics

Module Provider: Meteorology
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Pre-requisites: MT11D Weather and Climate Fundamentals
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr Miguel Teixeira


Summary module description:
This module is an introduction to the fluid dynamics that drives the ocean and atmosphere circulations.

This module aims to introduce the physical processes affecting fluid motion on various scales in the atmosphere and ocean, building up to the equations used in studying atmospheric and oceanic motions, and to solve related fluid flow problems. The concepts will be illustrated by reference to atmospheric and oceanic phenomena and through laboratory demonstrations.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of this module, the student should be able to:

• Describe the physical processes affecting a fluid, including the effects of rotation and stratification;

• Estimate relevant non-dimensional parameters;

• Make quantitative use of the equations of motion for the atmosphere and ocean;

• Solve quantitative problems relating to these flows;

• Categorize and explain the dynamics of basic atmospheric and oceanic flows;

• Analyze various atmospheric and oceanic motions and propose dynamically-sound rationales for these motions.

Additional outcomes:
Students will enhance their problem solving skills.

Outline content:

• The nature of fluids, pressure, pressure gradient force;

• Streamlines and Bernoulli’s theorem;

• Circulation and vorticity, vortex tubes, irrotational flows;

• Review of basic calculus required for this course, Eulerian and Lagrangian derivatives;

• Viscosity, Reynolds number;

• Rotation effects, Coriolis and centrifugal forces, inertial oscillations, Rossby number;

• Buoyancy and Stratification, buoyancy oscillations, Richardson number;

• Thermal wind, Burger number, Rossby deformation radius;

• Blasius boundary layer, Ekman layer, Ekman number;

• Navier-Stokes equations, the primitive equations;

• Vorticity equation and mechanisms for changing vorticity;

• Barotropic flow over orography;

• Sverdrup balance, application to wind-driven gyres and abyssal flow;

• Waves, phase and group velocity, wave dispersion, wave breaking;

• Linearization of the equations of motion, dispersion relations;

• Internal gravity waves, Rossby waves, Kelvin waves;

• Introduction to turbulence and chaos.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
One 3-hour session per week. This will typically involve a 1-hour lecture followed by a laboratory demonstration (to small groups) and a problem solving class. Concepts introduced during the lectures will be further developed during the problem solving class.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 9 10
Tutorials 9 10
Practicals classes and workshops 8 10
Guided independent study 74 70
Total hours by term 100.00 100.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Set exercise 30
Class test administered by School 20

Other information on summative assessment:

Two set exercises.

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:

    2 hours.

    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: 31 March 2017

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