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MA4H7 Atmospheric Dynamics

Lecturer: Robert Kerr

Term(s): Term 2

Status for Mathematics students: List C

Commitment: 30 lectures

Assessment: 3 hour exam (100%)


Maths/Physics students are required to have two of the following: MA231 Vector Analysis, PX253 PDEs, PX244 Introduction to Fluids

Mathematics students are required to have exposure to physical conservation laws such as momentum and energy and the differential equations that describe them. This means fluids or physics courses from the Warwick Physics department, MA3D1, or A-level Physics or Mechanics A.

Leads To:

Content: Topics would include:

Vertical motion and the role of moisture:

  • Atmospheric stability: Dry and saturated adiabatic lapse rates
  • Water vapour: Relative humidity, evaporation and condensation

Mechanics in a rotating frame (linear theory):

  • Pressure gradients and their origins.
  • Coriolis force, geostrophic wind.
  • Stability and waves in a rotating frame.
  • Stability and waves due to stratification.

Circulation on a global scale (nonlinear theory):

  • Prevailing winds, jet streams, synoptic scale motion.
  • Air masses, fronts, cyclones and accompanying weather patterns

Mesoscale and microscale motion:

  • The planetary boundary layer.
  • Ekman layers.
  • Thunderstorm initiation.


J.C. McWilliams, Fundamentals of Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, CUP (2006).

B. Cushman-Roisoin, Introduction to Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Prentice-Hall (1994).

Additional resources:

John M. Wallace and Peter V. Hobbs, Atmospheric science: an introductory survey (2nd ed), Academic Press, 2006.

Roland Stull, Meteorology For Scientists And Engineers: A Technical Companion Book To C. Donald Ahrens' Meteorology Today.

Additional Resources

Year 1 regs and modules
G100 G103 GL11 G1NC

Year 2 regs and modules
G100 G103 GL11 G1NC

Year 3 regs and modules
G100 G103

Year 4 regs and modules

Archived Material
Past Exams
Core module averages