An amount of energy from the Sun is intercepted by the Earth. While almost this amount of energy is ultimately radiated back to space, Earth’s spherical shape and rotation causes local imbalance between incoming and outgoing radiation. This discrepancy gives rise to motions. Understanding the structure and dynamics of the atmosphere is central to forecasting weather and understanding climate. This course aims to build a fundamental set of physical principles and apply them to understanding large-scale atmospheric motions. Mathematical descriptions of the atmospheric dynamics are constructed and interpreted in terms of their physical significance. By the end of this course we will have investigated phenomena such as the thermodynamics of the atmosphere, forces in the atmosphere planetary waves, mid-latitude cyclones, the planetary boundary layer, and aspects of the general circulation of the atmosphere.

Time:               Fall 2012, Tuesday/Thursday, 11:00am -12:15pm
Location:        Duane E126

Web Page:      http://atoc.colorado.edu/~dcn/ATOC5050
Instructor:      David Noone, Ekeley S236, 303-735-6073 (dcn@colorado.edu)
Office hours:  
Tuesdays 1-2pm and 3:15-5pm, or by appointment.
Texts: J. R. Holton, Introduction to Dynamic Meteorology, 4th Ed., Elsevier, 2004
        (Also R. R. Rogers and M. K. Yau, A Short Course in Cloud Physics, 3rd Ed., Butterworth and Heinemann, 1989,
        and/or J. M. Wallace and P. V. Hobbs, Atmospheric Science, 2nd ed., Elsevier, 2006.


Holton, J. R., An introduction of Dynamic Meteorology, Elsevier Academic Press, 4th ed., 2004.

Rogers, R. R., and M. K. Yau, A short course in cloud physics, Butterworth and Heinemann, 3rd ed., 1989.
(On electronic reserve:[ Download chapter 1-3 from PDF 2Mb] )

Download a copy of the syllabus.

Notes and schedule

Approximate lecture outline.

Week # Date Topics Reading Assign Notes
I 1 28 Aug Introduction and overview H Ch1.1-1.3    
  2 30 Aug Pressure and hydrostatic H 1.4-1.5, RY1    
II 3 04 Sep Thermodynamic EQ and adiabatic processes H2, RY2    
4 06 Sep Dry adiabatic processes RY2, H Ch9
III 5 11 Sep Water and saturation RY3    
  6 13 Sep Moist adiabatic processes RY3    
IV 7 18 Sep Stability and buoyancy H2    
  8 20 Sep Instability and conditions H2    
V 9 25 Sep Advection and balance flow H2    
  10 27 Sep Review session, homework tutorial: EKELEY W231 H2 HW1 due  
VI 11 02 Oct Geostrophic balance and Coriolis force H3    
  12 04 Oct Continuity and MJO H2    
VII 13 09 Oct Thermal wind balance H2    
  14 11 Oct Midterm      
VIII 15 16 Oct Balanced flow H3    
  16 18 Oct Balanced flow - lab experiments H3 Coriolis demo class worksheet  
IX 17 23 Oct Balanced flow - asymmetry and thermal H3    
  18 25 Oct Divergence and vorticity H4    
X 19 30 Oct Circulation theorem H4 Vorex demo  
  20 01 Nov Vorticity and conservation of PV H4 Taylor column demo  
XI 21 06 Nov Vorticity equation and scaling H4    
  22 08 Nov Vorticity (Rossby) waves H4, and 7.7 HW2 due  
XII 23 13 Nov Boundary layers 1 - eke and Richardson number H5 Purple water demo  
  24 15 Nov Field trip - DATA AVAILABLE BELOW H5 Field assignment sheet  
XIII   20 Nov Thanksgiving - no class      
    22 Nov Thanksgiving - no class      
XIV 25 27 Nov Boundary layers 3 - surface layer and the mixing length H5    
  26 29 Nov Boundary layers 4 - Ekman layers, spin down H5 Project due, HW3 assignment  
XV 27 04 Dec Optional lab work with Scott (no lecture)      
  28 06 Dec Exam      
XVI 29 11 Dec Geostrophic adjustment H6,7.6    
30 13 Dec Zonal mean circulation/baroclinic instability H7, 10, extra reading See movies below
HW3 due (Friday!)

Homework assignments

Homework assignment 1 (Due 27 Sept): Download assignment.

Homework assignment 2 (Due 8 Nov): Download assignment

Data analysis project (Due 29 Nov): Download assignment

Homework assignment 3 (Due 14 Dec): Download assignment

Field data

Combined excel file containing all balloon theodolite angles (note, waiting for 1 group): ATOC 5050_all_balloons.xls

Raw data files for wind an temperature in csv format, or a excel file containing both: ATOC 5050_tower_data.xls

Also, a manual for the micromet tower.

Remember, tower sensor heights were 0.7, 1.5, 3.0 and 6.49 meters. Columns labeled levels 1 to 4 is bottom and 4 is the top. Wind directions is only at the top.

Also remember that the date stamp in the data files is wrong, because we did not set the clock. The tower data file contains 1 hour of data, and you only need to consider four 10-minute averages (so, 40 minutes of data).

Photos! HERE is a directory with photos from the field trip. (If you have others you'd like to share send them along and I'll add them to the directory)

Some cool movies

Precipitable water from CAM2 shows tropical easterlies and westerly "river" storms.

Baroclinic annulus: no rotation shows flow toward cold center at the top of the fluid

Baroclinic annulus: "earth like" rotation shows (bright) just, and onset of waves with change in rotation rate

Baroclinic annulus: other examples - three, four, five

Spin up of CAM from state initially at rest, with a tiny mountain (fli files can be viewed with quicktime)

As above, but zoomed in on mountain