Seventh Annual AMS Student Conference


Geophysical fluid experiments in undergraduate education

Seth Clevenstine, Millersville University, Millersville, PA; and B. K. Fling

An NSF-funded partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as lead institution and five other universities representing diverse undergraduate programs in the physical sciences, by using portable rotating and non-rotating tanks as methods of laboratory-based teaching of geophysical fluid dynamics. This poster will report the work done over the summer and fall semester concerning the 3-D portable rotating tank, 2-D wave tank and its experiments by students at Millersville University.

By using the portable 3-D rotating tank during the summer and fall semester 2007, we were able to supplement the theoretical treatment of fronts, Ekman layers, the Hadley circulation, baroclinic instability, western boundary currents, free convection, and thermohaline circulations. The 3-D tank was used to represent large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns that arose from density gradients influenced by rotation, as well as the evolution of patterns as rotation rate varied. Through the use of a 2-D wave tank, we were able to represent free convection and the development of secondary circulations which showed excellent visual examples of over-shooting tops of thunderstorms, the subsequent generation of gravity waves and how the anvil is produced. The 2-D tank also shows key concepts in the ocean as well as the atmosphere. Examples of ocean up-welling and return circulations from persistent wind forcing across a water surface.

By understanding the concepts and the theory behind these experiments, we were able to provide visual support to the professors that are lecturing in undergraduate oceanography and meteorology classes. Some of the senior level courses used to demonstrate these experiments are: climate dynamics, meso-and storm-scale meteorology, synoptic meteorology. Junior level courses consisted of atmospheric dynamics and thermodynamics.

Poster Session 1, Student Conference General Poster Session
Sunday, 20 January 2008, 5:30 PM-7:00 PM, Exhibit Hall B

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