Dynamics of Weather Systems

University of Reading

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Dynamics of Weather Systems

  • Host University

    University of Reading

  • Location

    Reading, England

  • Area of Study

    Atmospheric Science, Environmental Science

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    Pre-requisites: MT24A Atmosphere and Ocean Dynamics

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Summary module description:
    Dynamical knowledge of the development of synoptic-scale weather systems
    in the extra-tropical latitudes and tropical weather systems,
    particularly tropical cyclones, will be developed in this module.

    To develop a modern understanding of the dynamics of synoptic-scale
    weather systems in the extra-tropical latitudes and tropical weather
    systems with a focus on tropical cyclones and to relate this knowledge
    to observations.

    Assessable learning outcomes:
    By the end of this module the student should be able to:

    Provide a suitable mathematical and conceptual description of

    synoptic-scale mid-latitude weather systems and tropical cyclones.

    Explain, physically and mathematically, the origins of synoptic-scale

    vertical motion, waves and cyclones, and develop quantitative estimates
    of their properties.

    Critically assess the relevance of conceptual models through
    comparison with observations

    Additional outcomes:
    Students will enhance their skills in the quantitative analysis of
    weather systems, the manipulation of differential equations and the
    scaling of atmospheric motions. Students will learn to validate their
    calculations through physical principles.

    Outline content:

    Equations for the extra-tropics
    The quasi-geostrophic equations
    Potential vorticity thinking
    Vertical motion and the omega equation
    Dynamical interpretation of regions of vertical motion in cyclones and


    Rossby waves
    Conceptual models of baroclinic and barotropic instability
    The Eady and analytical models of baroclinic instability
    Scaling of fronts and the semigeostrophic and Sawyer-Eliassen equations
    Tropical dynamics
    Tropical cyclones

    Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
    Lectures, (un-assessed) problem sheets, and assessed synoptic practicals
    during which the quasi-geostrophic techniques developed during the
    course will be used to analyse the development of a real rapidly
    developing cyclone. Full course notes and model answers to the problem
    sheets are provided.

    Summative Assessment Methods:

    Written exam 70%
    Report 30%

    Other information on summative assessment:

    Formative assessment methods:
    Un-assessed problem sheets will be completed by the students and the
    answers discussed during lectures. Model answers will be provided for
    these problem sheets.

    Penalties for late submission:
    The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.
    where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
    where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

    The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    2 hour paper

    Requirements for a pass:
    40% overall.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Some courses may require additional fees.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits are converted to semester credits/quarter units differently among U.S. universities. Students should confirm the conversion scale used at their home university when determining credit transfer.

Please reference fall and spring course lists as not all courses are taught during both semesters.

Please note that some courses with locals have recommended prerequisite courses. It is the student's responsibility to consult any recommended prerequisites prior to enrolling in their course.


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