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Geophysical Fluid Dynamics

The course covers the theory for atmosphere and ocean dynamics, showing how important dynamical phenomena can be explained with the help of fundamental equations in fluid dynamics, the so-called Shallow Water Equations.

The course shows how various dynamical phenomena in the atmosphere and ocean (Rossby, Kelvin, Poincaré and equatorial waves, and geostrophic adjustment) emerge from the same underlying geophysical fluid dynamics described by the Shallow Water Equations (SWE). The course also covers potential vorticity, separation into slow and fast mode, reduction to quasi-geostrophy, conservation laws and stability theory. Although focused on SWE, the theory taught during the course is relevant for the more complex systems of equations used in climate models and operational weather models.  

The course is a part of the Master's programme in Meteorology, Oceanography and Climate Physics, but may also be taken as an individual course. As applications of the SWE span planetary atmospheres and astrophysical plasmas, the students interested in these topics might also find the course relevant.

  • Course structure

    Learning outcomes: After taking this course the student is expected to be able to: explain geophysical phenomena using basic equations of geophysical fluid dynamics and carry out and present numerical modelling and laboratory experiments with relevance to geophysical fluid dynamics.

    Teaching format

    The teaching consists of lectures and tutorials including: theory exercises, a computer lab, and a rotating tank lab. Participation in labs and the associated group tutorials is compulsory. Under special circumstances, the student may be granted exemption from certain parts of the compulsory teaching.

    Course materials

    Course materials and correspondence related to the course will be available on the course Athena site at once you have registered for the course.


    Assessment consists of delivery reports and written examination. Grading criteria and more information will be available on the course Athena site at once you have registered for the course.


    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.

    You can search for schedules from previous years in TimeEdit, by entering the course code.

    Link to TimeEdit

  • Course literature

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

    • Geoffrey K. Vallis: Essentials of Atmospheric and Oceanic Fluid Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, 2019. ISBN: 1107692792.
  • Course reports

  • More information

    Upcoming courses

    The course is held every autumn semester.


    The course may not be included in a degree together with Meteorology, 20p (ME2030), Geophysical FluidDynamics, 7.5p (MO7006) or equivalent.

  • Contact

    Study counselor