Geophysical Fluid Dynamics and Laboratory

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
1. To introduce the physical laws governing flow and transport in air, water and soils.
2. To introduce physical tools to analyze observations from monitoring networks in atmosphere, hydrosphere and cryosphere.
3. To introduce elements of the radiative balance of the planet Earth and the role of atmosphere, hydrosphere and cryosphere in the energy balance.
4. To introduce basic statistical concepts and stochastic processes and their application to geosciences.
5. To introduce notions about geophysical measures.
Expected learning outcomes
1. Ability to read and understand scientific papers and technical reports dealing with the physical aspects of the dynamics of atmosphere, cryosphere and hydrosphere.
2. Ability to design models of flow and transport (mass balance, energy balance, solute transport, etc.) in atmosphere, cryosphere and hydrosphere.
3. Ability to critically analyze the results of monitoring physical quantities in atmosphere, cryosphere and hydrosphere.
4. Ability to perform simple statistical analyses of geoscientific data.
5. Ability to design and perform geophysical measurements.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
Prerequisites for admission
Basic knowledge of mathematics and phisics.
Assessment methods and Criteria
Expected learning outcomes will be verified during an oral exam; the first topic discussed can be freely selected by the candidates.
Geophysical Fluid Dynamics
Course syllabus
- Basic elements about water cycle and the general characteristics of atmosphere, hydrosphere and cryosphere(composition, vertical structure, etc.). Physical properties of water in its various forms.
- Equation of motion of atmosphere, surface waters, groundwater and polar ice caps. Geostrophic and hydrostatic approximations. Shallow ice approximation.
- Energy balance and heat equation: conduction advection, radiation, evapotranspiration. Basic thermodynamics of the atmosphere: variation of air pressure and density with elevation. State equation for dry air and corrections for wet air. The first principle of thermodynamics for the atmosphere; adiabatic transformation for dry and wet air.
- Characteristics of atmospheric and oceanic circulation.
- Contaminant transport in atmosphere and hydrosphere: advection, molecular diffusion, turbulent and hydrodynamic dispersion.
Teaching methods
Traditional lesson, supported by demonstrations and practical classes on a computer.
Teaching Resources
The supporting material will be uploaded to Moodle:
Suggested references:
- J. Bear, 2007. Hydraulics of groundwater, Dover.
- P.S. Eagleson, 2003. Dynamic hydrology, EGU Reprint series.
- D. Hillel, 1998. Environmental soil physics, Academic Press.
- J.R. Holton, 2004. An introduction to dynamic meteorology 4th edition, Academic Press.
- G. de Marsily, 1986. Quantitative Hydrogeology - Groundwater hydrology for engineers, Academic Press.
- J. Pedlosky, 1987. Geophysical fluid dynamics 2nd edition, Springer.
- G.L. Pickard & A.J. Emery, 1990. Descriptive physical oceanography, An introduction - 5th (SI) Enlarged Edition, Butterworth-Heynemann.
- J.M. Wallace & P.V. Hobbs, 2006. Atmospheric Science - An introductory survey, - 2nd Edition, Academic Press.
- K. Cuffey & W.S.B. Paterson, 2010, The Physics of Glaciers - 4th Edition, Academic Press
Laboratory of Geophysical Fluid Dynamics
Course syllabus
- Basic concepts of statistics and stochastic processes. Examples of applications for data interpolation and for the stochastic simulation of physical and categorical quantities.
- General concepts on geophysical measurements: physical principles of instruments for measuring electrical signals; analog vs. digital measurements, A/D conversion; accuracy, precision and resolution; data storage and transmission systems; experiments vs. monitoring.
- Measurements of atmospheric parameters: temperature, humidity, pressure, wind velocity and wind direction, (direct, diffuse, net) radiation gauges. Hydrological and oceanographic measurements: level gauges; wave and current monitoring buoys; vertical profiler of water parameters; bathymetric surveys; AUV (autonomous underwater vehicle) and wave glider; measures of soil water content and suction (capacitive - TDR, FDR - and resistive sensors; tensiometers).
- Measurements for passive geophysical prospecting: gravity; Earth's magnetic field; self-potentials; vibrations and microtremors (HVSR). Measurements for active geophysical prospecting: resistivity methods (VES, ERGI); induced polarization; seismic measurements (refraction seismic, MASW); electromagnetic prospecting (VLF, FDEM, TDEM); GPR (Ground penetrating radar).
Teaching methods
Traditional lesson, supported by practical classes on a computer and practical classes to demonstrate the working principles of instrumentation.
Teaching Resources
The supporting material will be uploaded to Moodle:
Suggested references:
- Isaaks, E.H. & Srivastava, R.M., 1989, Applied geostatistics, Oxford University Press.
- Mood, A.M., Graybill, F.A. & Boes, D.C., 1991, Introduzione alla statistica, McGraw-Hill.
- Bevington, P.R. & Robinson, D.K., 2003, Data reduction and error analysis for the physical sciences, McGraw-Hill.
- Reynolds, J.M., 2011, An Introduction to Applied and Environmental Geophysics, 2nd edition, Wiley.
Geophysical Fluid Dynamics
Lessons: 48 hours
Laboratory of Geophysical Fluid Dynamics
Practicals: 36 hours
to be arranged via e-mail or phone
via Cicognara 7
By phone or mail appointment
via Cicognara 7