Coupled Atmosphere – Ocean Interactions

Course Details

  • Acronym ATM S/OCEAN 560
  • Instructor(s) David Battisti
  • Quarter Autumn 2019
  • Credits 3
  • Meeting Times MW 10:30-11:50
  • Location ATG 610
  • Fullfills GCeCS Applications Course
  • Prerequisites OCEAN 512/ATM S 509 

Course Description

** Note: An email went out about this course with the wrong time listed, but the time listed here and in the time schedule is correct.

Observations and theory of phenomena of the coupled atmosphere-ocean system. El Nino/Southern Oscillation; decadal tropical variability; atmospheric teleconnections; midlatitude atmosphere-ocean variability. Overview of essential ocean and atmospheric dynamics, where appropriate.

From the instructor:

In this course we will examine the interactions between the oceans and atmosphere which give rise to large-scale climate variability on time scales of months to years.

The class will be subdivided into four parts:

  • The Basic Physics of the Mean Climate:  (two weeks) We will start by reviewing the essential elements (physics and geometry) that are responsible for the gross features of the mean climate state and the annual cycle in the global ocean and atmosphere. This introduction will help to build an intuition for the processes responsible for variability in the climate system, from seasonal to decadal time scales.
  • Uncoupled Atmosphere and Ocean Variability:  (two weeks) Included in the first half of the course will be a brief overview of the dynamics of the uncoupled tropical oceans and atmosphere.
  • Coupled Atmosphere-Ocean Variability in the Tropics:  (four weeks) In this part of the class, we will focus on the dynamics of three important coupled phenomenon in the climate system:  the annual cycle (yes), the El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon and the Meridional Modes. The latter two are the most important and simplest examples of natural climate variability on seasonal to interannual time scales, and they have some impact on weather outside of the tropics. The Meridional Modes are found in both the Atlantic and Pacific basins; they are the dominant forcing for variations in hurricane activity in the Atlantic and the primary energy source for ENSO.
  • Coupled Atmosphere-Ocean Variability in the Midlatitudes:  (three weeks) In this part of the class we will examine the processes associated with interannual to decadal variability in the midlatitudes. These higher latitude interactions are thought to result from a fundamentally different set of dynamics than those in the tropics, and are much more difficult to sort out in the data. We will start from the ubiquitous impacts of reduced thermal damping and build to more nuanced and exotic forms of coupled interactions. We will end with a discussion of the various hypotheses for the “Pacific Decadal Oscillation” and the “Atlantic Meridional Oscillation.”