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PHY8032 : Geophysical and Astrophysical Fluids (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Toby Wood
  • Owning School: Mathematics, Statistics and Physics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 15
ECTS Credits: 8.0


To present the application of fluid dynamics to the atmospheres and interiors of stars and planets, and to plasmas within and between galaxies.

Module summary:
Fluid dynamics typically becomes more challenging, and therefore more interesting, as the scale of the system under consideration is increased. This module concerns the very largest-scale fluid systems -- those of planets, stars, galaxies and the inter-galactic medium. On such scales the effects of gravity, rotation and magnetism become increasingly important, as does the complexity of fluid behaviour.

In this module we will study the physical processes that operate in geophysical and astrophysical fluids. We will describe how the nature of waves and turbulence is altered in the presence of gravity, rotation and magnetism.

Outline Of Syllabus

Revision of hydrodynamics and magnetohydrodynamics (MHD). Turbulent flows. The vorticity and induction equations. Conservation laws.
Rotation: the centrifugal and Coriolis forces, inertial waves, Ekman and Rossby numbers, the Taylor-Proudman theorem, Ekman layers.
Gravity: hydrostatic equilibrium, the buoyancy force, Kelvin-Helmholtz instability, internal gravity waves, convection, potential vorticity.
Magnetism: the Lorentz force, MHD waves, reconnection, dynamos, helicity.
Shocks: basic theory of MHD shocks.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture331:0033:00Formal lectures
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion19:009:00Revision for class test
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion118:0018:00Revision for unseen exam
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion12:302:30Unseen exam
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture11:001:00Class test
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture21:002:00Revision lectures
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery120:102:00Office hours
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study29:0018:00Preparation for coursework assignments
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study151:0051:00Studying, practising, and gaining understanding of course material
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study34:3013:30Review of coursework assignments and course test
Jointly Taught With
Code Title
MAS8852Geophysical & Astrophysical Fluids
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures are used for the delivery of theory and explanation of methods, illustrated with examples, and for giving general feedback on marked work. Tutorials (within lectures) are used to discuss the course material, identify and resolve specific queries raised by students and to allow students to receive individual feedback on marked work. In addition, office hours (two per week) will provide an opportunity for more direct contact between individual students and the lecturer: a typical student might spend a total of one or two hours over the course of the module, either individually or as part of a group.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1501A90N/A
Written Examination401M5Class test
Exam Pairings
Module Code Module Title Semester Comment
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Prob solv exercises1M5Coursework assignments
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

A substantial formal unseen examination is appropriate for the assessment of the material in this module. The coursework assignments are expected to consist of two written assignments of equal weight: the exact nature of assessment will be explained at the start of the module. The coursework assignments and the (in-class, therefore 40 minute) test allow the students to develop their problem solving techniques, to practise the methods learnt in the module, to assess their progress and to receive feedback; these assessments have a secondary formative purpose as well as a primary summative purpose.

Reading Lists