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Dynamic Meteorology II

The atmosphere is a complex medium with various interactions involving ocean, clouds, earth surface and has a whole spectrum of spatio-temporal scales. The course presents in a didactive way the theory of the formation of weather systems, and the role of energy transfer in synoptic systems.

Large and synoptic scales, the main focus here, refer to spatial scales of a few thousand km and larger. At those scales the atmosphere tends to be close to geostrophic balance. Waves involved in synoptic and large scales play an important role in generating instabilities and controlling storms, particularly in the midlatitudes. They also play a major role in transporting heat poleward from the tropics.

The dynamic II course deals with the evolution of weather systems and storm development in the midlatitude as well as large scale circulation. These scales impact climate variability and therefore affect our life on short and long terms. An outstanding feature of the course is that it brings together a unique combination of the basic theory of quasi-geostrophy and baroclinic instability with large scale circulation and makes an important pre-requisite to atmospheric circulation course.

The course is composed of theory and practicals.

The theory introduces the theory of large scale waves, and discusses the main dynamical processes controlling weather systems in the midlatitudes, namely quasi-geostrophy and baroclinic instability in addition to energy conversion. Baroclinic instability is the main mechanism responsible for the formation of midlatitude weather systems.

The practical part consists of a lab work based on a computer model.  A fun rotating tank experiment will also be shown to students, which emulates large scale Rossby waves and midlatitude baroclinic instability.

  • Course structure

    Students with background knowledge equivalent to atmospheric physics and chemistry (MO4002), with 30 credits, can easily follow the course. The course covers the theory of midlatitude atmospheric dynamics, responsible for weather systems.

    The theory starts with a brief description of main atmospheric waves in the midlatitudes, e.g Rossby waves, and the formation of synoptic weather systems. The course then moves on to fully present quasi-geostrophic theory and atmospheric waves. Baroclinic instability theory is then discussed along with energy conversion based on a simple two-layer quasi-geostrophic model.

    Teaching format

    The course is composed of lectures (theory), slide presentations, tutorials/exercises and lab work, as well as home assignments. The lectures cover the theory of large scale waves, the formation of weather systems in the midlatitudes, and energy transfer during the formation of weather systems.

    To get acquainted more with the theory, the lectures are complemented with tutorials in the form of corrected exercises and home assignments. The practical work consists of a computer lab on modeling baroclinic instability in the midlatitudes. The lab is to be written up.

    Course materials

    You can find further information related to the course on the course Athena site at once you have registered for the course.


    The examination is done by a written exam covering the course content. In addition, home assignments are included in the grading, and the lab report is included in the evaluation. The passing grades are A-E, and no mark is given to the lab, which is graded as pass or fail.


    Here is a link to a list of course coordinators and examiners.

  • Schedule

    The schedule will be available no later than one month before the start of the course. We do not recommend print-outs as changes can occur. At the start of the course, your department will advise where you can find your schedule during the course.
  • Course literature

    Note that the course literature can be changed up to two months before the start of the course.

    Holton, J. R. and Hakim, G.J.: An introduction to dynamic meteorology, 5th edition, International Geophysics Series, Academic Press, 2013, 552 pp. Print Book ISBN: 9780123848666, eBook ISBN: 9780123848673

  • Course reports

  • Contact

    Study counselor