Atmospheric Dynamics

MATH-GA 3004, Spring, 2024

Lectures: Tuesday and Thursday 3:30-4:45 pm, Warren Weaver Hall 517
Office Hours: Friday 10:00-12:00, Warren Weaver Hall 911

Course Description

What effects the large scale circulation of the atmosphere? Like the antiquated heating system of a New York apartment, solar radiation unevenly warms the Earth, leading to gradients in energy in both altitude and latitude. But unlike the simple convection of air in your drafty home, the effects of rotation, stratification, and moisture lead to exotic variations in weather and climate, giving us something to chat about over morning coffee … and occasionally bringing modern life to a standstill.

The goals of this course are to describe and understand the processes that govern atmospheric fluid flow, from the Hadley cells of the tropical troposphere to the polar night jet of the extratropical stratosphere, and to prepare you for research in the climate sciences. Building on the foundation in Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, we will explore how stratification and rotation regulate the atmosphere’s response to gradients in heat and moisture. Much of our work will be to explain the zonal mean circulation of the atmosphere, but in order to accomplish this we’ll need to learn a great deal about deviations from the zonal mean: eddies and waves. It turns out that eddies and waves, planetary, synoptic (weather system size) and smaller in scale, are the primary drivers of the zonal mean circulation.

There will also be a significant numerical modeling component to the course. You will learn how to run atmospheric models on NYU’s High Performance Computing facility, and then design and conduct experiments to test the theory developed in class for a final course project. We will strive to make our science reproducible, learning best practices for future research.

For more details, please see the course syllabus.

Recommend Textbooks (but no need to buy them!)

  • Marshall, J and Plumb, R. A., 2008: Atmosphere, Ocean, and Climate Dynamics, Academic Press, 319 pp.

  • Vallis, Geoffrey K., 2017, Atmospheric and Oceanic Fluid Dynamics: Fundamentals and Large-Scale Circulation (Second Edition), Cambridge University Press, 946 pp.

  • Walker, Gabrielle, 2007, An Ocean of Air, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 288 pp.

  • Wallace, John M, David S. Battisti, David W. J. Thompson, and Dennis L. Hartmann, 2023, The Atmospheric General Circulation, Cambridge University Press, 406 pp.