The Fluid Dynamics of Climate

August 26, 2013 — August 30, 2013


  • Antonello Provenzale (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Torino, Italy)
  • Klaus Fraedrich (Max Planck Institute for Metereology, Hamburg, Germany)

Climate dynamics offers some of the most intriguing scientific problems in science, as well as a set of applied issues of central importance, such as the definition of mitigation and adaptation strategies, the assessment of the potential risks associated with climate change (droughts, floods, extreme events, sea level rise) and the social, economic and geopolitical implications of global warming.
Many of the components of the climate system are in fluid state, such as the atmosphere, the hydrosphere and the cryosphere. As an evolution of the well-established discipline of geophysical fluid dynamics, founded more than fifty years ago, the emerging theme of “climatic fluid dynamics” is now at the heart of the efforts devoted to understanding and modeling the climate system.
The objective of this course is to make students and researchers with a general background in fluid dynamics familiar with the fluid aspects of the climate system. The course will bring together contributions from diverse fields of the physical, mathematical and engineering sciences. The addressed audience is composed of doctorate students, postdocs and researchers working on different aspects of atmospheric, oceanic and environmental fluid dynamics. It will also be useful for researchers interested in quantitatively understanding how fluid dynamics can be applied to the climate system, and for climate scientists willing to gain a deeper insight into the fluid mechanics underlying climate processes.

The Course outline includes:
– A general introduction to the fluid dynamics of climate, including the role of stratification, rotation, and the issues related to the many interacting spatial and temporal scales in the climate system.
– The dynamical systems approach to ocean and climate dynamics. Specific topics will include the North Atlantic Oscillation, El Niño, the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, the Dansgaard-Oeschger events and the Pleistocene Ice Ages.
– The physics of radiative and convective heat transfer and radiative convective equilibrium, including a discussion of the character of convection and tropical cyclones in changing climates and how they may serve to regulate climate.
– A description of the climate system in terms of data and model hierarches and the problem of climate predictability. Discussion of an equation of state for the Earth’s continental climates to describe vegetation, rivers, lakes and glaciers, their means, sensitivities and variability.
– The working of coupled general circulation models, with a general overview of their strength and weakness and including the role of parameterizations. Quantification of model uncertainty, especially considering that state-of-the-art climate models contain many sources of uncertainty.
– The dynamics of the global hydrological cycle in the climate system and its representation in global climate models. Regional scale climate dynamics, with examples from the Mediterranean, the Arctic and the Himalayas, and climatic downscaling.

Climatic fluid dynamics, Geophisical fluid dynamics, Climate system modeling, Dynamical system approach, Coupled circulation models, Global warming.


See also