Postgraduate course

Atmospheric general circulation

ECTS Credits


Level of Study

Master and PhD.



Teaching semester

Spring 2018. Then autumn 2019, and autumn, uneven numbered years. The course only runs if enough students enrol.

Objectives and Content


The aim of the course is to give the theoretical understanding of the large-scale flow, energy cycle, and variability of the atmosphere, covering the tropics, extra-tropics, and stratosphere and interaction with the ocean.



The course introduces the main patterns of large-scale atmospheric circulation in the tropics, extra-tropics and stratosphere. The description of the general circulation of the atmosphere includes the zonal mean circulation, angular momentum budget, and Lorenz energy-cycle. The course covers theories on eddy-mean flow interaction, atmospheric waves in the tropics and extratropics, and stratosphere-troposphere interaction, and also on the how interaction with the ocean and land surface shapes the large-scale atmospheric circulation. The course will review theories on selected large-scale phenomena such as monsoons, El Niño Southern Oscillation, Madden-Julian Oscillation, and annular modes.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course the student should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student

  • will have a theoretical understanding of the main circulation atmospheric patterns in the tropics, extra-tropics, and stratosphere
  • will have a theoretical understanding of planetary waves in the tropics and extra-tropics, and eddy-mean flow interaction
  • will have an understanding of the role of interaction with the ocean and land-surface in shaping the large-scale atmospheric circulation
  • will have an understanding of key large-scale patterns of atmospheric variability


The student

  • is able to formulate mathematically the physical principles underlying the large-scale atmospheric flow
  • is able to diagnose these physical balances in observations, atmospheric reanalysis, and atmospheric models
  • is able to explain to a group mathematically and physically the key features of the atmospheric general circulation

General competence

The student

  • can explain the fundamental physical mechanisms behind the main large-scale circulation phenomena in the atmosphere
  • can partake in group discussion on the large-scale physics of the atmosphere, using mathematics
  • can interpret differences in the large-scale circulation among observations, reanalysis and atmospheric models

can prepare and give scientific presentations and discuss scientific results, following good scientific

Required Previous Knowledge

Bachelor's degree in Climate, Atmosphere and Ocean Physics (named Bachelor's degree in Meteorology and Oceanography until Fall 2017), or equivalent.

Recommended Previous Knowledge

GEOF213 Dynamics of the Atmosphere and Ocean, GEOF352 Advanced Atmospheric Dynamics

Access to the Course

Access to the course requires admission to a master¿s programme at The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences

Teaching and learning methods

The main form of teaching will be
Lectures, 4 hours a week for 15 weeks including exercises with Teaching Assistant

There will be a term project.

Problems will be solved with active involvement of students; Term project will be presented to the class, and this will be followed by discussion. Students will be asked to evaluate each others projects. Lecturer and assistant will perform the final evaluation and grading.

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Presentation of Term project and attendance at 70 percent of the exercises are compulsory. Exemption may be accepted based on application to the programme Board. (Valid for two semesters: The semester mandatory activities have been approved and the following semester.)

Forms of Assessment

Oral exam

Examination Support Material


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.

Assessment Semester

Examination both spring semester and autumn semester. In semesters without teaching the examination will be arranged at the beginning of the semester.

Reading List

The reading list will be available within June 1st for the autumn semester and January 1st for the spring semester.

Course Evaluation

The course will be evaluated by the students in accordance with the quality assurance system at UiB and the department.

Programme Committee

The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses.

Exam information

  • Type of assessment: Oral examination

    Withdrawal deadline