SIO 212A: Geophysical Fluid Dynamics I
The course will cover basic dynamics of rotating stratified flow,
generally applicable to both the ocean and atmosphere.
Topics will range from large-scale quasi-balanced flows to small-scale
turbulence. Prerequisits include graduate-level coursework in
dynamics or permission of the instructor.
Homework and exams will be based only on material covered in
class. Useful additional information can be found in
Fundamentals and Large-scale Circulation"
Geoffrey Vallis (2006) [online e-reader here]
* "Introduction to Geophysical Fluid
Dynamics" by Benoit Cushman-Roisin and Jean-Marie Beckers
(2011), [online chapter PDFs here].
Part 1 (Ian Eisenman)
1/6: Introduction, basic equations (V 1, C 1 & 3)*
1/8: Rotating coordinate systems, earth's geoid (V 2.1-2.3, C 2)
1/13: Scaling, hydrostatic approximation, Boussinesq approximation (V
2.4-2.7, C 3.7 & 4.3)
1/15: Eddy viscosity, Ekman spirals (V 2.12, C 4.2 & 8)
1/20: Ekman spirals (cont'd), Ekman transport (V 2.12, C 8)
1/22: Ekman pumping, inertial oscillations, dimensionless numbers,
shallow-water equations (V 3.1 & 2.8.1 & 2.12.1, C 2.3 &
4.5 & 7.1-7.3)
1/27: Geostrophic adjustment (V 3.8, C 15.2)
1/29: Potential vorticity (V 3.6.1, C 7.4)
2/3: Thermal wind (V 2.8.4, C 15.1)
2/5: Midterm exam [solution]
Part 2 (Jen MacKinnon)
2/10: Two-layer shallow water
2/12: Intro to QG (V 5.3, C16 + Rick Salmon's GFD book)
2/17: QG continued and Rossby Waves
2/19: Rossby waves continued
2/24: Baroclinic Instability I (V 6.5, V6.7, V6.8, C17.3-17.4)
2/26: Baroclinic Instability II
3/3: Continuously stratified equations: Internal waves and related
3/5: Continuous stratification II: rossby waves and baroclinic
3/10: student presentations
3/12: student presentations
*Relevant sections in Vallis and Cushman-Roisin textbooks.
Office hours (Ian):
Students are welcome to stop by my office anytime (Nierenberg Hall
223), but I recommend checking beforehand to make sure I am in. One
ideal time is right after class. You can also make an appointment.
Jen: students welcome to stop by anytime (OAR/Keck 260), but can be
useful to call ahead to make sure I'm there. Or make an appointment.
Homework #1, due Jan 22. [solution]
Homework #2, due Jan 29. [solution]
Homework #3 and associated paper. Due 24 Feb in class.
Homework #4 Due 5 March in class
There will be a daily quiz at the beginning of some classes, which will
be graded on a pass/fail basis. You can miss up to 2 quizzes with no
There will be homework due every week or two. You
are encouraged to work in groups, but please write up your own
assignment. Assignments will be posted here when available.
There will be both a mid-term and final exam. In
each case you'll be allowed to
bring in one 8.5x11 piece of paper covered with whatever you deem
Each student will be asked to choose a relevant journal article (with
assistance from the instructor) and present it to the class near the
end of the quarter.
The final grade will determined as folows: daily quizzes (10%),
homework (25%), paper presentation (10%), mid-term (25%), final exam
Other useful references
Some reviews of descriptive physical oceanography:
210: Intro to Physical Oceanography
Oceanography" by Stewart, open source online
(click on each chapter title to go there)
by Adrian Gill
"Geophysical Fluid Dynamics" by Joseph Pedlosky
"Lectures on Geophysical Fluid Dynamics" by our
own Rick Salmon (or ask him in
"Fundamentals of Geophysical Fluid Dynamics" by
James C. McWilliams
"Atmosphere, Ocean and Climate Dynamics, Volume 93: An Introductory
Text" by John Marshall and R. Alan Plumb
Turbulence in the ocean and
- "An Introduction to Turbulence" and "The
Turbulent Ocean", both by Steve Thorpe. These are excellent surveys of
the primary processes producing turbulence and turbulence mixing in the
ocean, intended for an advanced undergraduate audience.
- "A first course in turbulence" by Tennekes and
Lumley. A good theoreticaly rigorous treatment of turbulent
flows, vorticity dynamics, spectral methods and turbulent closures.
- "Small scale processes in geophysical fluid
flows" by Kantha and Clayson. Another excellent text, aimed at the
graduate level, covering a range of processes (especially boundary
layer dynamics) in both atmosphere and ocean.