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Oceanography Vol.21, No.4196 h a N d s -o N o c e a N o g r a ph y

Summary: Oceanography Vol.21, No.4196
h a N d s - o N o c e a N o g r a ph y
purpose of actiVity
Here we study a fundamental instability mechanism of the
atmosphere that affects us very directly in terms of mid-latitude
winter weather. We provide a hands-on demonstration of this
instability using a setup that can be put together at home and
at minimal cost. Increased sophistication that can be achieved
with institutional support will aid in further quantitative
By B a l a su B r a m a N ya t. N a d i g a
a N d J o N at h a N m . au r N o u
a tabletop demonstration
of atmospheric dynamics
Baroclinic instability
analysis, but the fundamental appreciation of the phenomenon
is well achieved in the simple setup described here.
Students learn how a combination of rotation and buoyancy
(density contrasts) underlies this instability mechanism. We
naturally anticipate that when a dam breaks, gravity causes the
water to flow outward. Students will learn how this behavior


Source: Aurnou, Jonathan - Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of California at Los Angeles
Nadiga, Balasubramanya T. "Balu" - Climate, Ocean and Sea Ice Modeling Project, Los Alamos National Laboratory


Collections: Geosciences