EAS-A 364 Atmospheric Fluid Dynamics

Fall 2022

(meets with EAS-G 534)

General Details

Instructor: Dr. Cody Kirkpatrick (my email address)

Dates and times: Tuesday and Thursday, 3-4:15 p.m., Geology 1032


To be successful in our first dynamics course, you'll need at least Calculus I (meaning derivatives and some beginning knowledge of integrals) and some knowledge of vectors too, or be a very fast learner. This is a "mathematics of the atmosphere" course. I don't say that to scare you, just to be honest.

Questions We Will Try to Answer

  • Why do the polar and subtropical jet streams exist?
  • Why are low pressure areas cyclonic (and counter-clockwise in the N.H.)?
  • What approximations allow us to conclude that the winds will be almost completely parallel to height lines at upper levels?
  • How are we able to diagnose advection by just looking at height lines and isotherms?
  • Why is conservation of mass an important assumption in the atmosphere?
  • How do we use vorticity to understand the strength and movement of atmospheric disturbances?
  • What does it mean to say the atmosphere is "hydrostatic?"

Formal Objectives of the Course

Students are treated to a calculus- and vector-based coverage of the theory of atmospheric flows. Topics include: the equations of motion in inertial and rotating reference frames; isobaric, natural, and spherical coordinates; geostrophic, cyclostrophic, and gradient wind balances; and the kinematics and dynamics of circulation and vorticity.

At the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • utilize the natural coordinate system to interpret basic atmospheric flow patterns
  • derive and apply the thermal wind relationship to maps of geostrophic wind
  • describe mathematically and interpret the physical relevance of geostrophic, cyclostrophic, gradient, and inertial flows
  • calculate circulation and vorticity given information about the velocity field
  • scale and interpret the terms in the 3-D equation of motion, mass conservation, and vertical vorticity equations

What needs to be completed for the course for a grade to be assigned?

Each student's course grade will be assigned based on the weights of these assessment groups:

  • Homework sets & announced in-class quizzes: 35%
  • Two in-class, hour exams: 20% each (40% total)
  • Final exam: 25% (time and date determined by IU Registrar; non-negotiable)

Special Note for EAS-G 564 Students

To ensure rigor at the graduate level, assignments and exams may be different in scope and design than those given to undergraduates enrolled in EAS-A 364.

Recommended References

  • To buy: there is no textbook to buy. I will provide you with a complete copy of the class notes I teach from.
  • Official textbook: An Introduction to Dynamic Meteorology, 4th Edition, by James Holton. You should have free access to this text via the IU Library. Let me know immediately if that link ever fails. Our goal: the first four chapters.
  • Great reference: Chapter 1 from Midlatitude Weather Systems by Carlson (for students who were in synoptic last semester, it is available on the Unit 1 page from our Canvas site)
  • Additional reference: Chapters 3 and 4 of Bluestein's "Synoptic-Dynamic Meteorology," Volume 1, are also applicable to us. The book is now too expensive for me to ever recommend for purchase though, even as a reference.

Once the Semester Begins

This page is only a placeholder; once we begin meeting, all our materials can be found on Canvas.


Page updated on 10 August, 2022