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autumn 2018

FYS-3030 Fluid dynamics of atmospheres and oceans - 10 ECTS

Sist endret: 08.02.2019

The course is provided by

Faculty of Science and Technology


Tromsø |

Application deadline

Applicants from Nordic countries: 1 June for the autumn semester and 1 December for the spring semester. Applicants from outside the Nordic countries: 1 October for the spring semester and 15 April for the autumn semester.

Type of course

The course is available as a singular course. The course is also available to exchange students and Fulbright-students.

The course will only be taught if there is a sufficient number of students. If you are interested in following the course, please contact the student advisor as soon as possible

Admission requirements

Admission requirements are a Bachelors degree in physics or similar education, including specialization in physics worth the equivalent of not less than 80 ECTS credits. Local admission, application code 9371 - singular courses at Master's level.  

Course content

The course gives the basic theory for the large-scale dynamics of atmospheres and oceans and provides the foundation for more specialized studies of atmosphere and ocean dynamics. The course includes the fundamental equations for atmosphere and ocean fluid dynamics, the effects of rotation and stratification, the beta-plan approximation, the Boussinesq and anelastic equations, scaling relevant for the Earth atmosphere and ocean circulations, the Rossby number, static instability and gravity waves, the Ekman layer, the shallow-water approximation and its wave solutions, available potential energy, vorticity, potential vorticity, the circulation theorems, Rossby waves and barotropic and baroclinic instability.

Recommended prerequisites

FYS-1001 Mechanics, FYS-2001 Statistical physics and Thermodynamics, FYS-2018 Global climate change, MAT-1003 Calculus 3, MAT-2200 Differential Equations

Objectives of the course

Knowledge - The student can

  • identify the basic equations relevant for the circulation in the atmosphere and ocean
  • describe the concept and the characteristics of constant density, barotropic and baroclinic fluids
  • explain the implication on a fluid by rotation, and describe the concept of an f-plane and beta-plane
  • explain the advantages and limitations of the Boussinesq and anelastic approximations, and describe the reasons for, and implications of the density variations in the Earth's atmosphere and ocean
  • describe the concept of thermal-wind balance
  • explain the role of static stability and instability and its implications for gravity and acoustic waves
  • describe the advantages and the limitations of the shallow-water approximation
  • identify wave solution to the shallow-water equations such as Kelvin and Poincaré waves
  • explain the Kelvin theorem and the concept of vorticity and potential vorticity
  • describe the quasi-geostrophic approximation and identify its Rossby wave solution
  • explain barotropic and baroclinic instability

Skills - The student can

  • solve basic problems within atmosphere and ocean fluid dynamics
  • apply appropriate scaling of equations associated with atmosphere and ocean fluid dynamical problems

General expertise - The student can

  • incorporate current knowledge and new scientific information into critical thinking
  • communicate theories, problem descriptions and solutions

Language of instruction

The language of instruction is English and all of the syllabus material is in English. Examination questions will be given in English, but may be answered either in English or a Scandinavian language.

Teaching methods

Lectures: 40 hours Exercises: 20 hours


An oral examination counts about 100 % of the assessment. Assessment scale: letter grades A-F. Re-sit examination (section 22): There is no access to a re-sit examination in this course. Postponed examination (sections 17 and 21): Students with valid grounds for absence will be offered a postponed examination. Postponed assignments are arranged during the semester if possible, otherwise early in the following semester. Postponed final examination is held early in the following semester.

See indicated sections in Regulations for examinations at the UiT The arctic university of Norway for more information.

Coursework requirements Access to the final examination requires submission of up to three assignments are passed.


Course overlap

FYS-8030 Fluid dynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans 8 stp