Introduction to the atmosphere, ocean and climate

Undergraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content


The course gives an introduction to the fundamentals in meteorology, physical oceanography and climatology with emphasis on a qualitative explanation of the physical processes.


The course covers the physical and chemical characteristics of the atmosphere and the ocean, and how the atmosphere and ocean interact. The forces that drive the circulation of the ocean and atmosphere will be presented and an overview of global weather patterns and the large scale ocean circulation will be given. The students will be introduced to the most important energy forms in the atmosphere-ocean system and how energy is transported in and between the atmosphere and in the oceans. Important physical processes as for example cloud formation and precipitation, tidal motion and wave phenomena will be discussed. The variation and change in climate at different time scales will be presented. In exercises, emphasis will be on a practical introduction to geophysical data analysis using a modern programming language. No prior knowledge in programming is necessary.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course the student should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student

  • understands basic terminology and expressions
  • has basic knowledge of the chemical and physical composition of the atmosphere and the ocean
  • has basic knowledge of energy sources and transport of energy in and between the atmosphere,ocean and ice.
  • has knowledge of the hydrological cycle and phase changes of the water in the ocean and the atmosphere
  • is familiar with tides in the ocean and wave phenomena on various temporal and spatial scales
  • understands the fundamentals of the circulation in the atmosphere and ocean.
  • is familiar with the dominant weather systems and ocean currents on Earth
  • has an overview of natural climate variations and human induced climate change
  • is familiar with different types of ocean and air pollution


The student

  • can use basic terminology and expressions
  • can locate, evaluate and present scientific information
  • can convey the fundamentals in meteorology and physical oceanography
  • can present scientific information in writing and orally to highlight a certain topic
  • can make numerical programs for simple geophysical calculations and visualization of geophysical data

General competence

The student

  • has gained insight into the subject and its relevance to society
  • has the capacity for reflection and critical thinking about academic questions
  • is able to plan and carry out scientific information gathering

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Semester of Instruction

Autumn Enrolment to this course is based on application. Application deadline is Thursday in week 33 for the autumn semester. Please see this page for more information:

Mandatory attendance at first lecture.

Place of Instruction

Geophysical Institute.
Recommended Previous Knowledge
Fysikk 1+2 or PHYS101
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
Access to the Course
Access to the course requires admission to a programme of study at The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
Teaching and learning methods
The teaching is given as lectures (4 hours per week) and exersices (2 hours per week). The training will include the use of library resources and practical data analysis using a modern programming language.
Compulsory Assignments and Attendance
Forms of Assessment

Portfolio assessment. The portfolio consist of:

  • A semester thesis counts for 30 % of the final grade
  • Written exam, 4 hours, conts 70 % of the final grade

The semester thesis is valid in the semester in which it is submitted and in one subsequent semester. The scores from the sub assessments are added together to determine the final grade.

Grading Scale
The grading scale used is A to F. Grade A is the highest passing grade in the grading scale, grade F is a fail.
Reading List
Will be made available by 1st of July for the fall semester and 1st of January for spring semester.
Course Evaluation
The course will be evaluated by the students in accordance with the quality assurance system at UiB and the department.
Examination Support Material
Non-programmable calculator, according to the faculty regulations.
Programme Committee
The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses.
Course Administrator
Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences - Geophysical Institute