Faculty of Science

Monash University

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2012 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 0 (NATIONAL PRIORITY), 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Science
OfferedClayton Second semester 2012 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Professor Michael Reeder


The motion of a density-stratified fluid in a rotating frame of reference; important parameters and their magnitudes; 'homogeneous flows' in the atmosphere and ocean; shallow-water and Rossby-wave motion; western boundary currents; gradient-wind balance and vortex motion; dynamics of stratified fluids, including stability, blocking, internal gravity waves and thermal-wind balance.


Upon the completion of this unit, students will:

  1. understand the equations of fluid motion in an inertial reference frame, and be able to extend them to both a rotating frame of reference and a density-stratified fluid;
  2. appreciate how to approximate the full equations in circumstances which are relevant to motions in the atmosphere and/or oceans of various scales;
  3. recognise the constraints that rotation places on fluid motion and understand how this affects the motion of the atmosphere and ocean;
  4. understand the dynamics of wave motions, including Rossby waves, and be able to determine and interpret the group velocity of a dispersive wave disturbance;
  5. recognise the role of rotation in atmospheric vortices of different scales;
  6. appreciate the key effects introduced by density stratification, including stability, blocking and the dynamics of internal gravity waves;
  7. be able to interpret observational data and recognise evidence of the dynamics that were examined in the approximated theoretical analysis related to objectives 3-6 above;
  8. be able to communicate clearly the key concepts covered in the unit, both verbally and in written form.


Final examination (3 hours): 70%
Assignments: 20%
In-semester tests and support-class activities: 10%

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Simon Clarke

Contact hours

Three 1-hour lectures per week, one 2-hour laboratory/support class per week, plus private study/research time


MTH2010 or MTH2015. Recommended: ATM2020 and ATM2030.


MTH2032 (or equivalent)