MT24ANU-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:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Dr Miguel Teixeira


Type of module:

Summary module description:

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

 The module leads at NUIST are Miao Yu ( and Hua Chen (



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 an d 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 Stratific ation, 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:

The module includes blended teaching and learning methods, involving pre-reading/thinking, teaching in classroom, interactive group discussion, problem-solving classes, and take home assignments etc.. 

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20 20
Tutorials 20 20
Practicals classes and workshops 8 8
Guided independent study: 52 52
Total hours by term 0
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Written assignment including essay 20
Set exercise 30

Summative assessment- Examinations:

2 hours.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Two set exercises.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:

The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (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.

Assessment requirements for a pass:

40% overall.

Reassessment arrangements:

August/September examination only.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Last updated: 15 April 2020


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