Postgraduate course

Turbulence in the Atmospheric and Ocean Boundary Layer

  • ECTS credits10
  • Teaching semesterAutumn
  • Course codeGEOF310
  • Number of semesters1
  • LanguageEnglish, Norwegian if only Norwegian students.
  • Resources

Level of Study


Semester of Instruction


Objectives and Content

An introduction into turbulence and turbulent energy fluxes in the atmospheric boundary layer and the ocean mixed layer is given in this course. This introduction is intended to provide a basis for further advanced studies in this field. It also aims to give students a sufficient background for assessing the relative importance and relevance of turbulence in other issues related to meteorology, oceanography or climate. The course covers homogenous turbulence theory including spectral descriptions, definition and measurement of turbulent fluxes, and the influence of stratification in the boundary layer in the atmosphere and in the ocean. The budget equations for the turbulent kinetic energy and the temperature variance are derived and the different terms are discussed. Salient features of various processes in the oceanic mixed layer and the atmospheric boundary layer are introduced. Air-sea and air-sea-ice interactions are briefly discussed together with the turbulence in the under-ice boundary layer. The profiles of tracers and velocity and their turbulent fluxes in the atmosphere and in the ocean are described and discussed in different forcing conditions. An overview of the common instruments and measurement methods is given.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completing GEOF310 the student should be able to:
- describe and compare the salient features of the turbulent boundary layer in the atmosphere and ocean
- identify and sketch the profiles of tracer and turbulent fluxes in the boundary layer in the atmosphere and ocean under different forcing conditions
- explain and discuss the different terms of the budget equations for turbulence
- sketch an idealized energy and scalar variance spectrum and discuss the different subranges
- explain the turbulence closure problem and sketch different methods for its solution
- choose instrumentation and sampling scheme to measure turbulence fluxes in the atmosphere and ocean
- calculate and interpret turbulent key parameters as fluxes and turbulent kinetic energy, using direct and indirect methods, from a corresponding data set. 

Required Previous Knowledge

Bachelor in meteorology and oceanography or equivalent programs.

Teaching Methods and Extent of Organized Teaching

2 lectures á 2+1 hours per week
1 exercise á 1 hours per week

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Mandatory presentation of two exercises.

(Valid for four semesters: The semester mandatory activities have been approved and the three following semesters.)

Forms of Assessment

Oral. If more than 15 candidates, the exam might be written. No auxiliaries allowed for the exam.

Grading Scale

The grading scale used is A to F. Grade A is the highest passing grade in the grading scale, grade F is a fail.

Subject Overlap



Geophysical Institute

Exam information

  • Type of assessment: Oral examination

    Withdrawal deadline