ESE 133: Large-Scale Atmosphere Dynamics


Prof. Tapio Schneider
238 Linde+Robinson
Office hours: Fridays 3:30-4:15pm


Held, I. M., 2000: The General Circulation of the Atmosphere. Lecture Notes, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Available here.

Holton, J. R., 2004: An Introduction to Dynamic Meteorology. 4th ed. Elsevier.

Vallis, G. K., 2006: Atmospheric and Oceanic Fluid Dynamics. Cambridge UP.



Tuesdays and Thursdays  9-10:25h

135 Linde+Robinson



  • Homework 1 [PDF]

    Due Date: April 25
  • Homework 2 [PDF]

    Due Date: May 9
  • Homework 3 [PDF]

    Due Date: May 23

Grading Policy

  • Homework assignments: 70%
    • Homework assignments will be distributed on Tuesdays and are due two weeks later.
    • There will be 3-4 assignments.
    • Collaboration on homework sets is encouraged, but please turn in solutions individually and state on your solutions with whom you collaborated.
  • Presentations: 30%.

Schedule and Handouts

  • Week



  • 04/04

    General circulation of atmospheres: observations and nature of the problem. Angular momentum balance.

  • 04/11

    Maintenance of surface winds. Thermal wind balance and Ekman balance. Hadley circulation.

    Vallis, chapters 1-2.  Schneider (2006), sections 1 & 2. Hadley Slides 1.

  • 04/18

    Role of vorticity mixing in the maintenance of surface winds. Barotropic flow on a beta-plane and Rossby waves.

    Held, Lecture 1. Vallis, chapter 12.1.

  • 04/25

    Properties of Rossby waves: phase velocity, group velocity, momentum fluxes, critical layers. Barotropic stability.

    Vallis, Chapter 5.7. Held, Lecture 2. Critical Layer Slides.

  • 05/02

    Stability of barotropic jets. Pseudomomentum and general stability criteria.

    Vallis, Chapter 6.1–6.3

  • 05/09

    Interlude: Jet variability (Sally Zhang)

  • 05/16

    Shallow-water model: Potential vorticity conservation, non-acceleration theorem, quasigeostrophic dynamics.

    Vallis, Chapters 3.1-3.7. Held, Lectures 2 and 3. Vallis, Chapter 5.3.2.

  • 05/23

    Quasigeostrophic two-layer model: Baroclinic instability and general circulation.

    Vallis, Chapter 6.6-6.8. Phillips (1956)

  • 05/30

    Two-layer model: heat fluxes, momentum fluxes, transformed Eulerian mean theory. Eliassen-Palm fluxes

    Held, Lecture 4. Vallis, Chapter 7.1-7.5. Edmon et al. (1980).

Papers for presentations

  • Paper


    Student/Presentation Date

  • First numerical simulation of the general circulation with a two-layer model.

  • The energy cycle of the atmosphere.

    Ana, 6/6
  • Charney-Drazin filtering: why only the largest planetary waves make it into the stratosphere.

    Siteng , 6/6
  • Life cycles of baroclinic waves that become nonlinear.

    Tianhao , 6/6
  • Eliassen-Palm and potential vorticity fluxes and how to use them to analyze atmospheric dynamics.

  • Genesis and ray tracing of stationary waves and how they give rise to teleconnections.

    Siraput , 6/6
  • Review of geostrophic turbulence.

  • Review of storm track dynamics.

    Katrina , 6/6