Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 3 sessions / week, 1 hour / session


Fluid Dynamics of the Atmosphere and Ocean (12.800)

Pedlosky, Joseph. Geophysical Fluid Dynamics. New York, NY: Springer Verlag, c1979. ISBN: 9780387903682.

Gill, Adrian E. Atmosphere-Ocean Dynamics. New York, NY: Academic Press, 1982. ISBN: 9780122835223.

Basic Topics to be Covered

I. Fundamental Conservation and Balance Principles for Large-scale Flow (4 weeks)

  • Hydrostatic balance
  • Conservation of potential vorticity
  • The invertibility principle
  • The shallow water equations
  • The Rossby number and the quasi-geostrophic equations
  • Geostrophic adjustment
  • The superposition principle
  • Higher-order balance systems
  • Separation of flow into balanced and unbalanced parts
  • The “omega equation”

II: Generation and Dissipation of Quasi-balanced Eddies (4 weeks)

  • Rossby waves
  • Barotropic instability
  • The Rayleigh and Fjørtoft theorems
  • The Eady model
  • The Charney model
  • The Charney-Stern theorem
  • Surface friction and Ekman Layers
  • Western Boundary Currents
  • Effects of phase change of water
  • Effects of orography: topographic waves
  • Observed modes of eddy development
  • Generation and dissipation of ocean eddies

III. Equilibrated Quasi-balanced Systems (1 week)

  • The Eliassen-Palm theorem
  • Two-dimensional and Quasi-geostrophic turbulence and inverse cascades
  • The Rhines scale and quasi-balanced jets
  • Equilibration of baroclinic eddies in the ocean