NFYK14008U Abyssal flows

Volume 2015/2016
M.Sc. Physics

Aim: The purpose of this course is that the student obtains a basic understanding of the various theories of the abyssal flow how they relate to the observed large scale circulation.

Content: This course gives an introduction to the basic theories to explain the deep circulation: Stommel's mixing model, Kawase's wave model and Toggweiler's Southern Ocean model. The focus will be on the manipulation of the equations of motions to derive the fundamental properties of the different waves. Observations and numerical models will then be used to fill the theory with life.

Learning Outcome

When the course is finished it is expected that the student is able to:

  • explain 3 different theories about the deep ocean circulation
  • understand the spin-up of the deep circulation

The course introduces the student to the equations of motion for a continuous medium. The student will learn how to use scaling analysis to reduce the complexity of partial differential equations. Finally the student will combine the resulting equations with observations and numerical model results to relate the different forcing mechanisms to the deep flows in the ocean.

This course will provide the students with a strong background for further studies within physical oceanography, but also meteorology.
The close connection of theory to the numerical modelling of geophysical flow and the analysis of observations will ensure that the student is enabled to think laterally, translating theory into code and verifying the results with observations. This is a core competency in all geophysical subdisciplines.

Ocean Circulation Theory, Pedlosky  1996, Springer

Bachelor in Physics or Mathematics.
Restricted elective for specialisation "Geophysics".
Laptop is required.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Exam
  • 2
  • Lectures
  • 50
  • Practical exercises
  • 40
  • Preparation
  • 68
  • Theory exercises
  • 46
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 25 minutes
Oral, 25 minutes, internal examination, pass/non-pass evaluation, no aids, without preparation time.
Marking scale
passed/not passed
Censorship form
No external censorship
one internal examiner
same as ordinary
Criteria for exam assesment

see learning outcome