Course Syllabus

Midterm:  Friday February 15th.  More details will appear.

Our goal: To gain a thorough understanding of the fundamental processes governing oceanic and dry atmospheric motions. The focus will be on the response of these fluids to gravity and to apparent forces arising from the rotation of the earth.

Textbook:  Adrian Gill, Atmosphere-Ocean Dynamics.  Section numbers in the syllabus without the preface "V" refer to Gill's book.  Geoff Vallis has posted draft material for the second edition to Atmospheric and Oceanic Fluid Dynamics hereDownload the two draft chapters on waves from Geoff's site.  We will use some of this and send him feedback.  Section numbers preceded by "Vn" refer to this material.  Joe Pedlosky's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics is another very useful reference.

Contact Info/Office hours: MW 1:30-2:30 PM in ATG 504 or by appointment email or phone (206) 543-7440.

Lab/quiz section: Wed 3:30-4:20 in either ATG 310 or the GFD lab (107 OSB).  Website for Prof. Peter Rhines GFD lab.

Grading: 50% homework; 20% midterm; 30% final.

Course Outline

Review of Wave Kinematics

Small-amplitude motion in a nonrotating density-stratified fluid under a gravitational restoring force. (Gill, Chapter 6)

Accelerations relative to the Earth's rotating reference frame
  • Coriolis and Centrifugal forces (4.5.1); better in Pedlosky pp. 14-21.
  • Constant angular momentum (Inertial) oscillations.
Small-amplitude motion in a fluid rotating at a constant angular velocity. (Gill, Chapters 7, 8 and 9)
  • Geostrophic adjustment, geostrophic balance and the thermal wind. (7.1)- (7.7)
  • Circulation, vorticity and potential vorticity. (7.9)-(7.11)
  • Effect of rotation on surface gravity waves. (8.1)-(8.3)
  • Ekman layers and spin down (9.2), (9.4), (9.12) 

Small-amplitude motion in a rotating fluid with variations in the basic state potential vorticity

Barotropic Rossby waves (12.1)-(12.3)
• Quasi-geostrophic shallow-water motions. 

Linear instability theory 

• Kelvin-Helmholtz instability(Vallis, pp. 248-249) 

Course Summary:

Date Details