Graduate Numerical Techniques for Atmosphere, Ocean and Earth Scientists: EOSC 511 / ATSC 506

Course Purpose

The students completing this course will be able to apply standard numerical solution techniques to problems in Oceanographic, Atmospheric and Earth Science.


Phil Austin, 2-2175,, Rm 157 EOS South
Susan Allen, 2-2828,, Rm 3017 ESB


The course assumes a mathematics background including vector calculus and linear algebra. Students weak in either of these areas will be directed to readings to strengthen their knowledge. Some programming experience is greatly recommended.

Course Structure

This course is not lecture based. The course is an interactive, computer based laboratory course. The computer will lead you through the laboratory (like a set of lab notes) and you will answer problems most of which use the computer. The course consists of three parts. A set of required interactive, computer based laboratory exercises, a choice of optional laboratory exercises and a project. The project will be determined through consultation between the student and their supervisor.

During the meeting times, we will have brief presentations to help with technical matters and the more difficult sections of the course. It is highly recommended that you join us to work on the course during the meeting times. Past students who did so got a great deal more out of the course than those that worked on their own.

You can use a web-browser to examine the course exercises. Point your browser to:

Meeting Times

1400-1600 Thursdays, Room 210, Earth and Oceans Sciences (EOS) Main


  • Laboratory Exercises 30%
  • Project Proposal 10%
  • Project 50%
  • Project Oral Presentation 10%

Laboratory Problem Sets

The laboratory problem sets can be given to either instructor when completed. (We have mail boxes in the Earth and Ocean Sciences Main Office). They may be hand written or typed. You may wish or be asked to include plots and diagrams. Sometimes, rather than a large series of plots, you may wish to include a summarizing table. If you do not understand the scope of a problem, please ask. The time scales given in the Contents section are based on 9 hours/week. Help with the labs is available 1) through a mailing list so you can contact your classmates and ask them 2) during the weekly scheduled lab or 3) directly from the instructors. Assignments and the project are expected on time. Late ones will be marked and then the mark will be multiplied by \((0.9)^{\rm (number\ of\ days\ or\ part\ days\ late)}\). (Below we give two dates for each assignment. You should aim for the first one (this would keep you totally up to date). The later one allows a couple of days “in case”.)

Set Laboratories

Recommended timing. Problems to be handed in can be found on the webpage.

  • Laboratory One: One Week
  • Laboratory Two: One Week
  • Laboratory Three: One Week
  • Laboratory Four: One and a Half Weeks
  • Laboratory Five: Half a Week
  • Laboratory Seven: One Week

Optional Laboratories

Choose one of the following concentrations or talk to your instructors about a combination of your choosing. Time scale two and a half weeks.

ODE’s and FFT’s

  • Rest of Lab 5
  • Lab 6
  • Lab 9 (FFT’s)


  • End of Lab 7
  • Lab 8
  • Lab 10

Smattering of ODE’s and PDE’s

  • Rest of Lab 5
  • Lab 6
  • Rest of Lab 7
  • Lab 10


  • Choosen in consultation with your research supervisor and the instructors. Should be choosen before the optional labs.
  • Time scale three and half weeks.