School of Mathematics and Statistics

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2013/2014 Sem. 1

2013/2014 Sem. 2


This is a 24 lecture course which follows on from MT4509


This course will examine current research in fluid dynamics, with a particular focus on meteorology and oceanography.
The large-scale atmosphere and oceans behave quite unlike a 'classical' fluid owing to the presence of stable density stratification and rotation.
As a result, the fluid motion is dominated by slow, 'vortical' or eddying motions (like cyclones) which generally spin slower than the Earth.
Superposed on this slow motion are relatively fast wave-like motions analogous to surface waves on a pond. These lectures describe the mathematical basis of these fundamentally different types of motion, and furthermore illustrate the increasingly important role of computer modelling in this research.


- Review the mathematical properties of vorticity, including the concept of 'inversion' (obtaining the velocity field from vorticity), and vortex dynamics (stretching, tilting and baroclinic generation).

- Individually consider the effects of rotation and stable stratification, then their joint effect on fluid motion.

- Introduce 'potential vorticity' and explore its properties.

- Examine the approximate separation of the fluid motion into slow/fast or 'balanced/imbalanced' motions.

- Consider the role of computation in current research, and illustrate several applications to geophysical turbulence, vortex interactions, and wave-vortex interactions.


100% by two-and-a-half hour examination


MT4509 (Fluid Dynamics)


Every year in semester 1 at 11


Prof D G Dritschel

Click here for access to past examination papers for this module.

Click here to see the University Course Catalogue entry.

Revised: PMH (September 2013)

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