NFYK15012U General Circulation of the Atmosphere

Volume 2021/2022

MSc Programme in Physics


This is a fundamental course in climate physics. The purpose is to give the student an overview and understanding of the averaged circulation and structure/state of the atmosphere. One main point is the identification of the role of the large-scale atmospheric waves. The course will cover the physical basis, the large scale dynamics, the time averaged state, the balances, the variability, transports and energy/energy conversions.

Learning Outcome

The students are able to:

  • Present/explain the theoretical basis for the averaged state of the atmosphere
  • Explain the role of the large scale atmospheric waves
  • Describe and explain feedback- and coupling mechanisms
  • Explain the atmospheric energy budget, including the waves


The students have:

  • a broad knowledge about the atmosphere's general state and the roles of waves in the atmosphere.
  • knowledge about general techniques for analyzing the behavior of the atmosphere


The students are able to:

  • extend the knowledge to further studies of the atmosphere at a research level
  • describe in general terms how the atmosphere is working, on both short and long time scales (and even on climate time scales).

extend the knowledge to further studies of the atmosphere at a research level

See Absalon for final course material. The following is an example of expected course litterature.

David Randall: An Introduction to the Global Circulation of the Atmosphere. Princeton University Press. ISBN: 9780691148960 . 456 pp.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.
Class room teaching with a mixture of lectures (traditional lectures, discussion hours and student presentations), analytical exercises and computer exercises where key elements of the general circulation is analysed using re-analysis atmospheric data, satellite data and climate model output.
Either a laptop with Matlab installed or experience in using Python is required
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 35
  • Preparation
  • 135,5
  • Practical exercises
  • 35
  • 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 based on a set of known subjects announced at least one week before the exam. There is no preparation time.
Without aids
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
several internal examiners

The same form as the ordinary exam

Criteria for exam assesment

See learning outcome