Dynamics of the Atmosphere
3 credits

Tuesdays and Fridays, 9:15-10:35 AM
Room 223, ENRS Building, Cook Campus

Instructors:  Dr. Anthony J. Broccoli (broccoli@envsci.rutgers.edu)
                      Dr. Benjamin Lintner (lintner@envsci.rutgers.edu)
Teaching Assistant:  Jenny Kafka
Grader: Arielle Alpert

Course description

Learning goals


Academic Integrity


Policy on religious observances
Class schedule




11:670:323 Thermodynamics of the Atmosphere

01:640:251 Multivariable Calculus


Course Description

Hydrodynamics of the atmosphere. Equations of motion on rotating earth. Vorticity, potential vorticity, and divergence.

Learning Goals

(1) Develop a conceptual understanding of atmospheric dynamical processes;
(2) Master the foundational mathematical and physical principles of atmospheric dynamics;
(3) Apply the conceptual understanding and mathematical and physical principles to solve problems;
(4) Use specialized software to analyze real-time and historical meteorological data..


Martin, Jonathan E., Mid-Latitude Atmospheric Dynamics, John Wiley and Sons, 324 pp.

This textbook is available for purchase at the Barnes and Noble bookstore on the corner of Nichol Ave. and Lipman Dr..


Supplemental Reading

Holton, An Introduction to Dynamic Meteorology, 4th Edition, Elsevier Academic Press, Ansterdam, 535 pp.

Wallace and Hobbs, Atmospheric Science, 2nd Edition, Elsevier Academic Press, Amsterdam, 483 pp.


Quiz (mathematical methods, including vector analysis): 5%
Homework problems: 15%
GEMPAK exercises: 15%
First hourly exam: 20%
Second hourly exam: 20%
Final exam: 25%


All homework problems will be posted on the Sakai site. Homework assignments are due at the beginning of class exactly one week after they are assigned. We will accept late homework assignments through the beginning of the next class after the due date, but your score will be reduced by 50%. Do not unnecessarily reduce your final grade by turning in your homework assignments late. If you have not turned in your homework by the next class after the due date, you will receive a score of zero for that assignment.


In cases of serious emergencies or University-sanctioned schedule conflicts, make-up exams will be given if we are notified in advance. Only in cases of serious medical or personal emergencies will a make-up exam be given if we are not notified in advance, and a note from a physician or the Dean's office will be required. Message: Show up and take your exams at their scheduled time!

Academic Integrity

You are required to adhere to the Rutgers University policies on academic integrity, which are available from the Rutgers Academic Integrity website.  During exams and quizzes, cell phones, iPods, PDAs, programmable calculators, and other electronic devices are not to be used under any circumstances.


Attendance is not taken in this class, although the size of the class makes it very easy for us to notice whether or not you attend. We do not grade on the basis of attendance, but in borderline cases we will be more sympathetic to students who demonstrate that they are trying their best by attending class regularly.

Religious observances

It is University policy (University Regulation on Attendance, Book 2, 2.47B, formerly 60.14f) to excuse without penalty students who are absent from class because of religious observance, and to allow the make-up of work missed because of such absence. Examinations and special required out-of-class activities shall ordinarily not be scheduled on those days when religiously observant students refrain from participating in secular activities. Absences for reasons of religious obligation shall not be counted for purposes of reporting. Students are advised to provide timely notification to instructors about necessary absences for religious observances and are responsible for making up the work or exams according to an agreed-upon schedule. Please notify us at the start of the semester if any scheduled tests or quizzes conflict with a religious observance.

Class schedule

Note: Except for the dates of exams and quizzes, this schedule may change slightly. Adjustments may be made based on our rate of progress through the material.





January 21

Course overview;
Review of basic mathematics

 M1.1, M1.2

January 24

Review of vector analysis

January 28


Jan. 31, Feb. 4
Classes cancelled for AMS Annual Meeting

February 7
Scale analysis; Basic kinematics of fluids; Advection
M1.3, M1.4

February 11 Fundamental forces M2.1
February 14 Fixed vs. rotating frames of reference; Apparent forces;

 Momentum equation in rotating coordinates

M2.2, M3.2
February 18 Momentum equation in spherical coordinates M3.2.1
February 21 "Weather in a Tank"

February 25 Continuity equation M3.2.2
February 28
Thermodynamic energy equation;
Summary of primitive equations
March 4 Using GEMPAK to visualize meteorological data Meet in ENR 323
March 7 Hourly exam #1

March 11 Hypsometric equation and thickness:
Pressure coordinates
M4.1, M4.3
March 14

Balanced flow; Natural coordinates;
Types of balanced flow

March 18, 21 Spring break

March 25

Types of balanced flow (cont.);
Thermal wind
March 28 Barotropic and baroclinic atmospheres;
Trajectories and streamlines
M4.3, M4.5
April 1 Using GEMPAK to visualize meteorological data Meet in ENR 323
April 4 Application of continuity eq. to vertical motion; Dines compensation

April 8 Chaos and numerical weather prediction

April 11 Hourly exam #2

April 15 "Weather in a Tank"

April 18 Vorticity and its physical interpretation;
Potential vorticity
M5.1, M5.2
April 22 Using GEMPAK to visualize meteorological data Meet in ENR 323
April 25 Vorticity equation M5.2
April 29

Vorticity equation in p-coordinates;
Scale analysis of vorticity equation
May 2 "Weather in a Tank"

May 13 Final Exam (8:00-11:00 AM)