AOSC432 Large Scale Atmospheric Dynamics
Tu-Th 9:30 - 10:45 am, Room: CSS 2416    Credits: 3 
Prof. Ning Zeng, Dept. of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science
and the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center
Course web:


Equations of motion and their approximation, scale analysis for the atmosphere and the ocean. Conservation properties. Fluid motion in the atmosphere and oceans. Circulation and vorticity, geostrophic motion and the gradient wind balance. Turbulence and Ekman Layers. Kinematics, balanced and unbalanced flows, and introduction numerical weather prediction. Climate dynamics and climate change.

Lectures and discussion consist of three broad areas:
(1) Atmospheric dynamics;
(2) Weather forecasting, with hands-on and real weather event analysis ongoing throughout the semester (highlighted blue in the schedule below)
(3) Climate dynamics.
The corrsponding chapters of the textbook (Wallace
and Hobbs) are Chapters 7-10, but there will be substantial amount of additional materials in the form of notes, handouts and presentations.


Date Subject
January 25 Review of AOSC 431, Introduction to 432
January 27 Review of Vector Algebra, Calculus, Kinematics, Advection, Eulerian and Lagrangian Derivatives
February 1 The Simplest Climate Model, Analytical and Numerical Solutions
February 3 Air Masses, Fronts, Scales of Motion, Observations, Cloud Types
(Homework: home-made pressure gauge and observation through a storm)
February 8 Forces in the Atmosphere: Real and Apparent
February 10 Vertical Coordinate Systems, Maps, and Basics of Weather Forecasting
February 15 Conservation of Momentum, Mass and Energy
February 17 Primitive Equations, Scale Analysis; Weather forecasting: hands-on
February 22 Geostrophic, Cyclostrophic, Gradient Wind, Thermal Wind Balance
February 24 Divergence / Convergence, Confluence / Difluence; Weather forecasting
March 1
Circulation and Vorticity; Weather forecasting
March 3 Waves in the atmosphere and ocean, analytical and numerical solutions to a wave equation
March 8 General circulation of the atmosphere, global patterns of wind, pressure, precipitation, temperature
March 10 Tropical circulation, SWE (Forecast discussion)
March 15 1st Half Review
March 22 No Class: Spring Break
March 24 No Class: Spring Break
March 29 Tropical dynamics, SWE presentation and discussion
March 31 QG (vertical motion, omega, height, vorticity), (Baroclinic and Barotropic Instability)
April 5 The Mid-latitude Cyclone, Cyclogenesis, Norwegian Cyclone Model
April 7 Climate variability and climate prediction: ENSO, NAO, monsoons
April 12 Numerical Weather Prediction
April 14 Climate change throughout Earth's history
April 19 Recent climate change or field trip (TBD)
April 21 Climate sensitivity and climate feedbacks, (Fcst Discussion: Jet Streams and Jet Streaks)
April 26 The natural and the disturbed carbon cycle, (Measuring CO2 with a gas analyzer)
April 28 Anthropogenic emissions: fossil energy and deforestation, (Fcst Discussion: Severe Weather)
May 3 Climate projection, the IPCC 4th Assessment Report
May 5 Review
May 10 Student final presentation

Instructor: Prof. Ning Zeng (CSS 2417, phone 301-405-5377)

Office hours: After class, by appointment, or drop by

Text book Atmospheric Science: An introductory survey.  J.M. Wallace & P.V. Hobbs
     Reference books: Mid-Latitude Atmospheric Dynamics:  J.E. Martin
                                  Dynamical Meteorology:  J.R. Holton

Grading method
Homework:          30%
Midterm exam:        20%
Classroom participation:     10%
Final presentation 10%
Final exam:            30%

rules: You may discuss homework with your classmates, but you should write everything down on your own, in your own words, and you may not share your completed answers with each other. 

Exams will be closed-book.