NFYK16007U Cancelled Dynamical Models for Climate and NWP

Volume 2021/2022

MSc Programme in Physics


This is a course on atmospheric dynamical modeling, which is a fundamental component of both modern climate models and numerical weather prediction (NWP) models. The course is intended for students who are interested in the design of modern geophysical fluid dynamical (GFD) modeling with primary emphasis on climate (annual time scales and longer) and NWP models (typically time scales from hours and up to about one month).

In more detail the course covers the following subjects:

  • The governing equations and approximations based on analytic scale analysis
  • Waves and oscillations permitted by the governing equations
  • Numerical methods and typically used approximations of these for solving the governing 7-8 coupled, non-linear, partial differential equations.
  • Theory of numerical stability and computational dispersion.
  • The dynamical core of state-of-the-art climate and NWP models, i.e., how is the whole model typically designed.
  • Brief description of the parameterization of un-resolved processes: radiation, convection, PBL …
  • Data assimilation – i.e., the science of generating a full 4-dimensional description of the atmosphere from mostly satellite based intermittently observed data, which typically are completely different from classical parameters as temperature, pressure, wind and humidity. The result, analyses, are used for, e.g., analyses of climate variability and as initial condition for NWP.
  • Predictability and chaos.
  • Ensemble forecasting – which is fundamental to quantify uncertainties.  

The course will include examples from the real world and in particular we will investigate the ECMWF IFS, which is used for both NWP and global climate modelling (including scenarios for future anthropogenic climate change).

Learning Outcome

The course will give the students an understanding of the design and application of GFD modeling with emphasis on atmospheric models in NWP, in climate modeling and for more theoretical studies in numerical experimentation.

The student will know how a dynamical atmospheric model operates, what its main components are, and for which applications it can be used. The students will also have insight in how atmospheric models are validated and what there limitations are.

This course will provide the students with a state-of-the-art background for further studies within geophysical fluid dynamical modeling, not only of the atmosphere but also for the oceans since many features of the models are similar. After taking this course the students will have the needed introductory competence to start working in an NWP or climate modeling research lab.

The final teaching material will be announced on Absalon. The following is the expected course litterature.

The course is partly based on a book by the former director of the US National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), Eugenia Kalnay, and partly on lecture notes:

  1. Eugenia Kalnay (2003): ”Atmospheric Modeling, Data Assimilation and Predictability”. Cambridge University Press, ISBN: 978-0-521-79629-3
  2. A vast amount of supplementary updating lecture notes written by the course responsible teacher, Eigil Kaas. The notes are in the form of slides but typically the mathematical derivations will also be detailed on the black-board.

Although the book by Kalnay is relatively old, it is, however, still relevant.

Bachelor in physics, mathematics and/or computer science.

Some experience in programming is required in either Python, Modern Fortran, C++, or, for the dinosaurs, in Matlab. Other programming languages can also qualify as ”recommended” (except for Excel). Please, contact the teacher (Eigil Kaas) for a discussion, if you are in doubt.
Class room teaching with a mixture of lectures (traditional lectures, discussion hours and student presentations), numerical exercises including quantitative validation of actual weather forecasts, and theoretical exercises. There will also be an excursion to the DMI (Centre for Meteorological Models and the Danish Climate Centre)
Laptop with relevant software installed. However, ERDA can also be used.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 42
  • Preparation
  • 135,5
  • Theory exercises
  • 14
  • Practical exercises
  • 14
  • Exam
  • 0,5
  • Total
  • 206,0
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 25 minutes
The oral exam will be without aids in an unknown subject.
Without aids
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
more internal examiners

The same form as the ordinary exam

Criteria for exam assesment

See learning outcome