12.003 | Fall 2008 | Undergraduate
Atmosphere, Ocean and Climate Dynamics


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 3 sessions / week, 1 hour / session

Recitations: 1 session / week, 1 hour / session


Multivariable Calculus (18.02) and Physics I: Classical Mechanics (8.01)


12.003 is an undergraduate class designed to introduce students to the physics that govern the circulation of the ocean and atmosphere. The focus of the course is on the processes that control the climate of the planet.


Marshall, John, and R. Alan Plumb. Atmosphere, Ocean, and Climate Dynamics: An Introductory Text. Boston, MA: Elsevier Academic Press, 2007. ISBN: 9780125586917.

Other Reading and References

Hartmann, Dennis L. Global Physical Climatology. International Geophysics Series. Vol. 56. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 1994. ISBN: 9780123285300.
This book is recommended as supplementary reading. It should prove useful for both atmospheric and oceanic sections of the course, especially chapters 1-7 of the book, which cover most of the material we will be covering (though in some cases it treats the material differently, and at different depth).

Houghton, John Theodore. The Physics of Atmospheres. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1977. ISBN: 9780521214438.
For the atmosphere, detailed treatment of radiation, and simple and intelligible treatment of dynamics.

Wallace, John M., and Peter Victor Hobbs. Atmospheric Science: An Introductory Survey. New York, NY: Academic Press, 1977. ISBN: 9780127329505.
Good qualitative discussion of many of the topics we will cover in atmospheric science.

Pickard, George L., and William J. Emery. Descriptive Physical Oceanography An Introduction. Oxford, UK: Pergamon Press, 1982. ISBN: 9780080262802.
One of the few not-too-technical texts on physical oceanography.


The assessment will be in four parts (with weight toward final grade):

  1. Homework assignments will be handed out each week that reviews material covered in class. These will serve a multiple purpose: As a component of the teaching process, as an assessment of performance, and as a means of providing feedback to me. (35%; the two lowest marks will be given half-weight)
  2. Class participation. (5%)
  3. A mid-term test. (20%)
  4. A final, closed book, exam on all assessable course material. (40%)

Homework 35%
Class participation 5%
Midterm exam 20%
Final exam 40%
Course Info
As Taught In
Fall 2008
Learning Resource Types
theaters Demonstration Videos
laptop_windows Simulations
assignment Problem Sets
grading Exams