Turbulence in the Atmospheric and Ocean Boundary Layer

Postgraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content


This course aims to give students the background for a basic description of turbulence and mixing in the boundary layer of atmosphere and ocean, and for assessing the relative importance and relevance of turbulence in processes related to meteorology, oceanography and climate.


An introduction to turbulence and turbulent exchange processes in the atmospheric boundary layer and the ocean mixed layer is given. The course covers homogenous turbulence theory, definition and measurement of turbulent fluxes, and the influence of stratification in the boundary layer in the atmosphere and in the ocean. The budget equations are derived, and the different terms are discussed. Various theoretical models based on simplifications of the budget equations are introduced and their practical importance for measurement and data analysis is highlighted. Air-sea and air-sea-ice interactions are briefly discussed together with the turbulence beneath sea ice. The vertical profiles of temperature and velocity, and their turbulent fluxes are described and discussed for different forcing conditions. An overview of the common instruments and measurement methods is given.

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

  • has a basic understanding of the salient features of turbulent boundary layers in atmosphere and ocean
  • has knowledge on the spectral evolution of turbulence, and the dominant terms of the budget equations for turbulence
  • has knowledge on sources and mechanisms driving turbulence in ocean and atmosphere, and at the boundary between them

The Student

  • can calculate and interpret key turbulent parameters using direct and indirect methods from a corresponding data set
  • can choose relevant instrumentation and method to measure and analyze data to describe the key turbulent parameters and fluxes in the atmosphere and ocean
  • can estimate and discuss mixing and spreading of properties under different forcing conditions

General competence
The Student

  • can assess the role of turbulent mixing in the global circulation and stratification of oceans
  • can assess the role of turbulence for the structure and dynamics of the atmospheric boundary layer



Level of Study


Semester of Instruction

Autumn, runs only if enough students enrol.
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: www.uib.no/en/matnat/53431/admission-courses-limited-capacity

Required Previous Knowledge
Bachelor in meteorology and oceanography, Bachelor's degree in Climate, Atmosphere and Ocean Physics or equivalent programs.
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
Access to the Course
Access to the course requires admission to a master's programme at The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.
Teaching and learning methods
2 lectures á 2 hours + 1 hour per week for 15 weeks
1 exercise á 1 hour per week for 15 weeks
Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Portfolio assessment and the exercises incuded in the portfolio

(Valid for four semesters: The semester mandatory activities have been approved and the three following semesters.)

Forms of Assessment

Portfolio assessment

The portfolio consist of

  • Two term papers and their presentation count for 20 % of the final grade
  • Oral exam counts 80 % of the final grade

The term papers and presentation are valid in the semester in which they are completed and for three consecutive semesters. The sub assessments must be passed to pass the course.

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.
Assessment Semester

Examination both spring semester and autumn semester.

In semesters without teaching the examination will be arranged at the beginning of the semester.

Reading List
The reading list will be available within July 1st for the autumn semester and January 1st for the 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
Programme Committee
The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses.
Geophysical Institute