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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Meteorology

Undergraduate Course: Atmospheric Dynamics (METE10001)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryIntroduces the fundamentals of atmospheric circulation that govern weather and climate in the tropics and mid-latitudes.This includes large-scale flows and eddies, the General Circulation and mid-latitude storm systems. Meteorological data will be used to illustrate air flow patterns, jetstreams, mid-latitudes cyclones and their intensification.
Course description Lectures 1-2: Overview and vertical structure
Hydrostatic equilibrium in the atmosphere. Potential temperature and its relevance to the vertical stability of a compressible atmosphere.

Lectures 3-4: Equations of motion for a rotating Earth
The Navier-Stokes equations for an inertial frame of reference of a compressible fluid based on Newton's first law of motion and the conservation of mass. The Navier-Stokes equations for a frame of reference rotating with the earth. Approximations for large-scale flow. Configuration of forces.

Lectures 5-8: Synoptic-scale approximations and frictional forces
The order of magnitude of forces and accelerations present in synoptic-scale weather patterns. Geostrophic and thermal wind approximations. Estimates of winds in synoptic-scale systems from pressure and temperature gradients. Mean and eddy flow. Wind variation with height due to frictional forces in the boundary layer.

Lectures 9-11: Vorticity and Divergence
Vorticity and divergence definitions for meteorology. Linking divergence and vertical velocity Potential vorticity and its usefulness as tool for understanding fluid motion.

Lecture 12-13: Tropical and mid-latitude circulations
The experimental evidence from "rotating dishpan" experiments that degree of departure from zonal symmetry depends on rotation rate and horizontal temperature gradients. Axi-symetric flow and conservation of angular momentum. Meridional circulations in the tropics and their relation to the sub-tropical jet.

Lectures: 14-16: Rossby wave and cyclone models
The motivation for and limitations of atmospheric wave motion as a perturbation from a basic flow. Barotropic and baroclinic conditions. Mid-latitude planetary-scale waves and the Eady model of mid-latitude cyclone growth. Climate change effects on mid-latitude storm behaviour.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Mathematics for Physics 4 (PHYS08038) OR Dynamics and Vector Calculus (PHYS08043) OR Mathematical Methods for Geophysicists (EASC09021)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements In addition to passing at least one of the above courses, a further 30 credits at level 9/10 from schedule Q or N is also required
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 16, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 4, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 75 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 80 %, Coursework 20 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Examination at the end of Semester 1 in December (80%) and tutorial questions (20%)

The student will use web-resources to answer a series of tutorial style questions and perform calculations. Detailed information on the tutorial will be provided in class and the students will have the opportunity to ask questions in one of the tutorial slots before the hand-in. Since tutorial style questions also form part of the exam this will provide feedback that will aid with exam preparation.
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)Atmospheric Dynamics2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Upon successful completion of the course it is intended that the student will have a detailed, integrated knowledge of the fundamentals of atmospheric dynamics that govern weather and climate in the mid-latitudes and tropics. Students will learn how to apply fundamental equations of fluid flow to understand atmospheric circulation, wind patterns, jetstreams, and mid-latitudes cyclone evolution. They will also become familiar as to how different meteorological data can be used to determine mid-latitude cyclone intensification. Specifically, students will also be able to:
    -Develop the concept of "potential temperature" and its relevance to the vertical stability of the atmosphere
    -Show how to derive the Navier-Stokes equation from Newton's first law of motion and the conservation of mass
    -Explain how the Navier-Stokes equations are transformed to represent large-scale flow for a rotating Earth
    -Understand the relative magnitudes of the forces and accelerations present in synoptic-scale mid-latitude weather patterns
    -Use geostrophic and thermal wind approximations to obtain estimates of winds in synoptic-scale systems from pressure and temperature gradients.
    -Understand the typical configuration of meridional circulations in the tropics and their relation to the atmospheric General Circulation and the strength of the sub-tropical jet
    -Explain the concept of potential vorticity and its usefulness for understanding airflow over a mountain
    -Discuss the motivation for and limitations of treatment of atmospheric wave motion as a perturbation from a basic flow (linear theory) in order to explain friction at the Earth's surface and planetary waves
    -Explain the observed behaviour of mid-latitude planetary-scale waves and mid-latitude cyclone growth by use of linear theory
    -Review the latest IPCC 4th assessment of how climate change may affect the mid-latitude storm tracks and system and critically evaluate these with professional-level insights. Students will also inform their knowledge with background reading of relevant, up to date literature.
    By the end of this course, students will be skilled in numerical problem solving and critical evaluation as done by professional-level researchers, both at the individual and group level.
Reading List
Applied Atmospheric Dynamics
Lynch, Amanda H. and Cassano, John, J ISBN-10: 0470861738

Atmosphere Ocean and climate Dynamics
Marshall, J. and R. Plumb ISBN-10: 0125586914

Atmospheric Science: An Introductory Survey
Wallace, John M.; Hobbs, Peter V. ISBN: 9780127329512

Mid latitude Atmospheric Dynamics
Martin, J. ISBN-10: 0470864656

An Introduction to Dynamic Meteorology
Holton, James R. ISBN 0123340151
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information 2 one-hour lectures per week
KeywordsAtm Dynamics
Course organiserDr Ruth Doherty
Tel: (0131 6)50 6759
Course secretaryMiss Christine Lee
Tel: (0131 6)50 5430
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