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Dynamics of the Atmosphere and Ocean



Course format On-site
Date 2020-08-17 - 2020-12-10

Objectives and Content


The course aims to present the governing equations and its application of various phenomena in geophysical fluid dynamics. Major topics in the atmosphere and ocean are presented and examined based on theory and exercises.


Major subjects are geostrophy and wind-induced Ekman currents; furthermore wave equations for gravity waves of homogenous and stratified fluid, also including the Coriolis effect. Quasi-geostrophic is used to study planetary and topographic Rossby waves, and barotropic- and baroclinic instability are introduced.


Principles of meteorology and/or oceanogarphy in addition to basic knowledge in maths and physics (mechanics) or equivalent to GEOF110 and MAT212.

This is a theoretical course which requires a solid mathematical background. To follow the course you must be familiar with (and use) concepts like differential equations, partial derivatives, curl, the equation of motion in a rotating frame of reference, the Coriolis force, geostrophic flow, Ekman dynamics. You also need to have basic programming skills in e.g. Matlab, Python or similar.

Learning outcomes

On completion of the course the student should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student

  • understands the basic principles of large scale motion on a rotating planet
  • understands the governing equations on various phenomena in geophysical fluid dynamics
  • understands the basics of waves of the atmosphere and ocean
  • understands the basics of steady state motions of the atmosphere and ocean
  • understands the basics principles of barotropic - and baroclinic instability


The student

  • can scale and simplify the governing equations for solving basic dynamical problems
  • can formulate and solve problems in a geostrophic framework
  • can formulate and apply wave theory on surface and internal waves
  • can formulate and use Ekman theory to calculate various scenarios of wind forcing

General competence

The student

  • is able to discuss basic governing equation in dynamical meteorology and oceanography
  • is able to derive, scale and simplify the governing equations
  • is able to present and discuss basic topics in the atmosphere and ocean


ISCED Categories

Physical and chemical oceanography