Module Identifier PHM9010  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Professor Geraint Vaughan  
Semester Semester 1  
Pre-Requisite Successful Completion of Year 3 of the MPhys Scheme  
Course delivery Lecture   22 lectures  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam3 Hours End of semester examinations  100%

Learning outcomes

After taking this module students should be able to:

Brief description

This course considers motion in the atmosphere from a fluid-mechanical perspective, showing how geostrophic and hydrostatic balance leads to simplification of the nonlinear basic equations. Applications are presented in the context of synoptic weather systems and fronts. Vorticity and potential vorticity are introduced as fundamental dynamical properties of the flow. Wave motion in the atmosphere is introduced within a physical framework, with application to gravity waves, tides and planetary waves.


The dynamical equations of atmospheric flow: inclusion of Coriolis acceleration.
Scale analysis: horizontal momentum equations, hydrostatic eqn.
Pressure co-ordinates.
Geostrophic and gradient wind.
Thermal Wind.
The chart as a means of displaying information.
Vorticity, the vorticity equation, potential vorticity.
Applications of the conservation of potential vorticity.
General Circulation in the troposphere.
Overview of wave motion in the atmosphere: restoring forces.
Gravity waves: simple theory, asymptotic equation.
Gravity wave saturation and spectra.
Transport of momentum by gravity waves.
Simple theory of atmospheric tides.
Planetary waves: free modes (Rossby waves), forced modes.
Transport by planetary waves.

Transferable skills

Computer-aided learning packages for meteorology.
Videos on satellite observations of air motion.

Reading Lists

** Reference Text
J.R. Holton (1991) An introduction to dynamical meteorology Academic Press
A. Gordon et al (1998) Dynamical Meteorology, A Basic Course Arnold ISBN 0-340-59503


This module is at CQFW Level 7