Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 2 hours / session

Course Description

Course 12.307 is an undergraduate laboratory course intended to illustrate, by means of 'hands on' projects, the basic dynamical and physical principles that govern the general circulation of the atmosphere and ocean and the day to day sequence of weather events. Real-time meteorological observations are studied together with laboratory fluid experiments.

The course parallels the content of the new undergraduate textbook

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


Calculus II: Multivariable Calculus (18.02), Physics I: Classical Mechanics (8.01)


Projects based on the use of real-time meteorological observations will stress the analysis and dynamical interpretation of weather and climate phenomena. These will be complemented by rotating tank experiments, which will offer the possibility of using a controlled laboratory environment to plan an experiment, explain ideas to be tested, observe and record the data.

The projects will be introduced by means of written assignments and by brief introductory lectures, explaining the underlying physical and dynamical ideas. The lecture component will be minimal, with emphasis on the planning and discussion of each project by the students themselves.

There are four projects, each of which takes approximately 3 weeks to complete:

- Project 1: Mass and Wind
- Project 2: Fronts
- Project 3: Convection
- Project 4: General Circulation


Students will be asked to critically summarize the results of each project in a written 'Project Report', on which grades will be based. There is a new 'project theme' every three weeks (see calendar), a total of four during the semester. Each comprises an atmospheric data component and a fluids laboratory component.

Students are also required to present their projects orally to the whole class. It is our intent to give to the students not only an opportunity to develop oral presentation skills but also a chance to discuss results with their piers.