Project 1: Mass and Wind

The purpose of this project is to study, using meteorological observations and laboratory experiments, the relation between the wind field and the mass field in a rotating system. In part I we explore the relationship in laboratory experiments; in part II atmospheric observations of intense cyclones and hurricanes are used.

Project Description (PDF)

Tank Experiments

- Detailed description of the radial inflow tank experiment, together with associated theory. (PDF)

- View recordings of the Balanced Vortex Experiment at the Weather in a Tank Web site

- Look at the following experiment on Ekman Layers to visualize the impact of surface friction on the balance of forces.

- Notes on relevant theory: Lecture Notes from Course 12.003 (Physics of Atmospheres and Oceans) - Chapter 6 — The equations of fluid motion (This resource may not render correctly in a screen reader.PDF - 1.2 MB)

Atmospheric Data

Hurricane Case Studies

Hurricane Katrina (Aug'05): NASA-EO, NCDC
Super-typhoon Ioke (Sept'06): NASA-EO, QuickScat
Hurricane Dean (Aug 07): NCDC, NASA-EO, QuickScat
Hurricane Bertha (Jul 08): NASA-EO

Surface winds from scatterometer imagery

Choose an hurricane case from the Scatterometer Imagery of Historical Storms and:
1. Plot the surface winds at different times along the path of the hurricane.
2. Choose a specific time and download the wind data to compute the Rossby number in function of radius - See Instructions
3. Discuss how the hurricane data compare to the radial inflow experiment.

Upper Air Analyses and Geostrophic/ageostrophic Flow

Read here for notes on geostrophic balance and on hydrostatic balance. (PDF 1) (PDF 2)

Planetary scale: Use Scalar and Wind to plot the 500 mb height and wind (observed and geostrophic) on the large scale. Discuss the balance of force typical of the large scale atmospheric motion.

Hurricane scale: Use Scalar and Wind to plot the 700 mb height and wind in an hurricane case.

Discuss the balance of force typical of the hurricane scale: geostrophic, cyclostrophic and gradient wind balance.


GDPLOT should be used to plot the height and wind from a regional analysis over the US.

Use GDPLOT_surf to plot the surface analyzed wind and pressure.

Use Surface Pressure and Wind to plot surface station winds and pressure. Discuss the balance of forces typical of the surface flow.

Other links:

Geostrophic Wind Java Applet