Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Description

This course examines diagnostic studies of the Earth's atmosphere and discusses their implications for the theory of the structure and general circulation of the Earth's atmosphere. Includes some discussion of the validation and use of general circulation models as atmospheric analogs.


Quasi-balanced Circulations in Oceans and Atmospheres (12.803) or Dynamics of the Atmosphere (12.810).


  1. Introduction
  2. Analysis Techniques
  3. The Angular Momentum and Kinetic Energy Budgets
  4. The Water Vapor Budget
  5. The Heat Budget
  6. Spectral Analysis
  7. Forcing of the Zonal Mean Circulations
  8. The Energy Cycle
  9. Numerical Models


Lorenz, E. N. "The Nature and Theory of the General Circulation of the Atmosphere." Geneva: World Meteorological Organization Publication 218 (1967): 161.

Buy at Amazon Peixoto, J. P., and A. H. Oort. Physics of Climate. New York, NY: Springer, 1992. ISBN: 9780883187128.

Exams and Term Paper

There will be a mid-term exam, an end-of-term exam, and a term paper.


Mid-term Exam 30%
End-of-Term Exam 30%
Term Paper 40%