clouds from a plane

Geophysical Fluid Dynamics I

ATM S 509/OCEAN 512, Winter 2012, 4 credits, SLN 10624/16824
Instructor: Parker MacCready, 685-9588, office 313 OSB (OCN on the map), office hours: ATG 610 right after class Monday and Friday.
TA: Hayley Dosser, offie hours T/Th 1-2, OSB 308.
Times: MWF 10:30-11:20, and Wednesday 11:30-12:20 (room TBA)
Location: ATG 610 (map)

Course Description

This class is intended for first year graduate students in Atmospheric Science, Physical Oceanography, Applied Math, and related fields. It covers the basic physics of large-scale fluid flow on the Earth, focusing on how stratification and rotation affect important fluid mechanical phenomena. Lectures will be given on the three regular class days. We will also arrange another 1 hour meeting during the week for informal problem and reading discussions, and several lab activities.

Catalog descirption: Dynamics of rotating stratified fluid flow in the atmosphere/ocean and laboratory analogues. Equations of state, compressibility, Boussinesq approximation. Geostrophic balance, Rossby number. Poincare, Kelvin, Rossby waves, geostrophic adjustment. Ekman layers. Continuously stratified dynamics: Inertia-gravity waves, potential vorticity, quasigeostrophy. Prerequisite: ATM S/AMATH 505/OCEAN 511.


Eowyn says "It went thataway!"


1. Planetary Fluids at Rest

2. Planetary Fluids in Motion

3. Shallow Water Waves with Rotation, Potential Vorticity

4. Internal Waves

  • [F 2/10] Two-layer Shallow Water Equations. (pdf)
  • [M 2/13] Two-layer internal waves. (pdf)
  • [W 2/15] Energy: KE & APE (Boussineq) (pdf)
    • LAB: Three-layer rotating adjustment, and 1-layer SWE flow over topography
  • [F 2/17] Hayley: Continuous stratification: linear internal inertia-gravity waves (IGW) (pdf)
  • [M 2/20] HOLIDAY
  • [W 2/22] NO CLASS: Ocean Sciences Meeting
  • [F 2/24] NO CLASS: Ocean Sciences Meeting
  • [M 2/27] IGWs continued (pdf)
  • [W 2/29] IGWs and flow over topography (pdf)
    • H5 Handed out: due 3/7, Solutions
    • LAB: Internal waves: continuous stratification, non-rotating, also Homogenous "Spin-up"

three layer rotating adjustment

Zack and Max and the 3-layer rotating adjustment experiment.

5. Rossby Waves & Frictional Effects


Natalia and the Taylow Column

Natalia contemplates the marvel of a cyclone caused by SWE flow over a bump on the large rotating table.


Homework (60%), Midterm Exam (15%) Take-home, open book and notes, Final Exam (25%) Take-home, open book and notes.