Course Syllabus

This syllabus is also for ATM S 504.

Link to Course Schedule

Class Meeting Times and Location
Lectures: MWF 1:30-2:20 in  Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysics Hall (ATG) 310  (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Labs are T 1:30-4:20,  in ATG 610 (note different room)

Lecturer: Professor David Battisti

Office:  ATG 305
Office hours: TBA, or by appointment.        

Lab Instructor: Professor Lynn McMurdie


Office:  ATG  526
Office hours: Th 2:30-3:30 in 623 or 526, or by appointment


Course Description

This course surveys the dynamics of synoptic and mesoscale disturbances including extratropical cyclones, inertia-gravity waves, and topographically forced flows. We will also consider atmospheric adjustment to geostrophy in extratropical latitudes. Insight into the dynamics of these features is gained through systematic simplification of the governing equations applied to idealized, but realistic, approximations of atmospheric structure. In the final portion of the course we will examine the importance of the synoptic scale phenomenon for understanding the general circulation of the atmosphere.

Textbook: Holton, J.R. and G.J Hakim, 2013: Introduction to Dynamic Meteorology, 5th Edition. Elsevier.  Text book errata are logged here (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Grading Policy

    Homework 30% (Due Fridays, beginning of class)

    Labs 30% (Due Tuesdays, beginning of class)

    Three or four Quizzes 15% (Fridays)

    Comprehensive Final Exam 25% (Monday 18 March 2:30--4:20 pm ATG 310)

Makeup Final by prior arrangement only with the lecturer (makeup will have an oral and written component). Late homework may be allowed one time with lecturer approval prior to its due date. First homework due in week 2 and first quiz is in week 3. You may work in groups, but each student must write up their work. Graduate and undergraduate students will be graded independently.


Tentative Syllabus ("Q" = Friday quiz):

Week 1 

Jan. 7-11

Waves: Basic concepts, Shallow water waves

Week 2 

Jan. 14-18

Waves: Rotation and Inertial Gravity waves

Week 3 

Jan. 23-25

Geostrophic adjustment; Internal Gravity Waves

Week 4 

Jan. 28 - Feb 1 Q

Rossby Waves, free and spin-down

Week 5 

Feb 4-8 

Orographically forced Rossby Waves; Quasi-geostrophic (QG) equations

Week 6 

Feb. 11 - 15 Q

quasi-geostrophic (QG) equations and Potential Vorticity

Week 7 

Feb. 20 - 22

Anatomy of a Midlatitude Cyclone

Week 8 

Feb. 25 - Mar 1 Q

Midlatitude Cyclone Theory: Baroclinic Instability 

Week 9 

Mar 4 - 8

Midlatitude Cyclones Theory: the messy details; the Initial Value approach

Week 10 

Mar.11 - 15

General Circulation 

Holidays: 21 January (Martin Luther King Day); 18 February (Presidents Day).

 Slides from class





Internal wave videos.pdf

Impact of topography on climate



Phase and Group Velocity Links to an external site.

gravity waves (albeit unusual)Links to an external site

Saint Andrews Cross animationLinks to an external site.

Gravity waves issued from a modelled squall lineLinks to an external site.

Extreme trapped gravity wavesLinks to an external site.

Impact of topography on climate

 Chapter 7 summary slides.pdfView in a new window

Summary slides: mid-latititude cycloneView in a new window

Rocky Mountain Wave CloudsLinks to an external site.Chapter_6_HH_slides.pdf

Course Summary:

Date Details