Advanced Ocean Dynamics

Postgraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

The course aims to present advanced topics of the large-scale and mesoscale ocean circulation, based on the governing equations in geophysical fluid dynamics.

With reference to the quasi-geostrophic equations as mathematical platform, the course covers Rossby waves, barotropic - and baroclinic instability, the large-scale circulation with theories of wind-driven flows in mid- and high-latitude ocean as Sverdrup- and Stommel theory, and stratification effects like upwelling and down welling. Simple theories of the buoyancy-driven large-scale circulation as well as dynamic modes and eddyinduced advection, will be covered.

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 good understanding of the basic principles of large scale motion on a rotating planet
  • understand the governing equations on various phenomena in geophysical fluid dynamics
  • understand the quasi-geostrophic dynamics
  • understand classical instability theories
  • understand the large scale wind driven ocean dynamics and classical theories


The student

  • is able to derive the quasi-geostrophic equations, and discuss barotropic and baroclinic Rossby wave solutions
  • is able to derive various solutions for the wind-driven ocean circulation, including upwelling and downwelling
  • is able to discuss simplified models of the buoyancy-driven ocean circulation
  • is able to derive and discuss QG integral constraints for barotropic and baroclinic instability

General competence

The student

  • can discuss basic governing equation in dynamical oceanography
  • can derive, scale and simplify the governing equations
  • can solve dynamical problems in the ocean
  • can present and discuss advanced topics in meso- and large scale dynamical oceanography

Semester of Instruction

Vår. Første gang vår 2025.
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:
Required Previous Knowledge
Bachelor's degree in Climate, Atmosphere and Ocean Physics or Bachelor in mathematics, physics or meteorology/oceanography
Recommended Previous Knowledge
GEOF110 and GEOF213, or equivavelent
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
The teaching method will be one lecture of 2 hours per week
Compulsory Assignments and Attendance
Regular attendance of the course exercise including presentation of own solutions. Compulsory assignments and attendance are valid for the actual and subsequent semester.
Forms of Assessment
Written exam, 4 hours
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.