MT4YD-Tropical Weather Systems

Module Provider: Meteorology
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Pre-requisites: MT24B Atmospheric Physics
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2023/4

Module Convenor: Dr Chris Holloway

Type of module:

Summary module description:
An introduction to the weather systems and circulation patterns in the tropical atmosphere.

To describe the major weather systems affecting the tropics; to investigate the main physical and dynamical processes which are involved in the development of these weather systems; to relate the properties of tropical weather systems to convection in the tropics and to explore theories of the interactions between small scale convection and the large scale flow.

Assessable learning outcomes:
To describe the major features of weather systems affecting the tropics. To use the tephigram to analyse the stability properties of the atmosphere and to estimate convective available potential energy and downdraft convective potential energy. To describe theories of the interaction of convection with the large-scale flow.

Additional outcomes:

Outline content:

• Review of observations and main features of tropical meteorology. Description of the large-scale flow in the Tropics in terms of the response of the Shallow Water Equations to regions of deep convection;

• Conditional instability, convection. Concept of convective available potential energy and its estimation. Vertical profiles. Convective downdrafts. Organisation of convection including tropical squall lines;

• The inter-tropical convergence zone and the tropical Hadley circulation. Introduction to tropical scale analysis. Description of the Hadley circulation including seasonal variations;

• The dynamics of monsoons. Comparisons between the Indian and West African monsoons as examples of strong and weak monsoon systems;

• The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Observations of the oceanic and atmospheric components of the ENSO system. Dynamical theories of ENSO mechanisms;

• Observations of the Madden-Julian oscillation. Competing theories for the MJO, including the role of air-sea interaction;

• Observations of tropical cyclones. Convection and thermodynamics of tropical cyclones: critical analysis of the CISK and WISHE theories.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The course will be based around a series of lectures. A number of problem sheets will help students to assimilate the material, and there will be opportunities for some problem solving and tutorial discussion within the classes.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 16
Tutorials 4
Guided independent study: 80
Total hours by term 0 0
Total hours for module 100

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 20
Class test administered by School 80

Summative assessment- Examinations:

2 hours.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

One assessed problem sheet to be completed during spring term. Number of essays or assignments 1.

Formative assessment methods:

Five non-assessed worksheets to be completed during the module.

Penalties for late submission:

The Support Centres 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 (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:
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: 30 March 2023


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