MAQ-31806 Atmospheric Modelling

This Study Handbook is published with reservation. It is not official yet.


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Course coordinator(s)dr. GJ Steeneveld
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. MK van der Molen
dr. GJ Steeneveld
dr. J Vilà-Guerau de Arellano
JGM Barten
Examiner(s)dr. GJ Steeneveld

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

Two courses from MAQ-32306 Boundary-layer processes, MAQ-32806 Atmospheric Dynamics, MAQ-22806 Atmosphere-Vegetation-Soil Interactions, MAQ-21806 Meteorology and Climate, MAQ-34806 Atmospheric Chemistry and Air Quality. Knowledge about numerical methods from Water and Air Flow Numerical Techniques (SLM-33806) or equivalent.


Atmospheric modelling is currently employed in a wide range of disciplines ranging from weather forecasting, air pollution studies and studies related to the coupling between soil and vegetation models and the state of the atmosphere. This tailor-made course aims at learning the fundamental principles of atmospheric modelling, getting acquainted with the use of state-of-the-art meteorological models and critically analysing their results. Emphasis is placed on designing numerical experiments in relation to research questions, discussing the results by comparing them with observations or results of other models and finally on presenting the main findings.
In the first part, we introduce the main framework of meteorological modelling by explaining the main concepts: the governing equations, principles in numerical modelling and physical/chemical representations. We revisit and integrate aspects related to dynamic meteorology, boundary-layer processes, atmospheric chemistry and land-atmosphere interactions to explain how these different components of the atmospheric system are integrated in the models. In a second part, the student will have two different modelling options. The first one suits students with an interest in learning the feedbacks among atmospheric processes characterized by different biochemical and physical nature: from purely atmospheric phenomena like investigating the optimal conditions for cloud formation to multidisciplinary subjects like atmospheric chemistry diurnal variability or the soil-vegetation-carbon dioxide-atmosphere interactions. By selecting the second option, the student will learn how to use a weather forecast model by reproducing and analysing a real meteorological situation. The subsequent sensitivity analysis of processes and key variables will enable the student to extend the analysis of the main mechanisms that have determined this meteorological situation. In both options, the student will have certain freedom in designing his/her own path of research according to his/her academic interests.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- use atmospheric models currently used in research, meteorological and air quality institutes and consultancies;
- address how modelling can assist in understanding societal relevant environmental problems as e.g. extreme weather, wind, energy or air quality;
- design numerical experiments related to specific research questions;
- explain and discuss the principles and theory of atmospheric models from local to regional scales;
- integrate the knowledge of atmospheric processes obtained in previous courses and other disciplines like atmospheric dynamics, boundary layer processes, atmospheric chemistry, hydrology or land-atmosphere interaction;
- assess the potential applications of these models and their limitations;
- apply these models in real working situations to understand and interpret meteorological and air quality phenomena;
- evaluate model performance by comparison of model results with observations or other models;
- present model results and their analysis, related to concrete research questions.


- getting acquainted to the principles of atmospheric modelling and learn how to work with state-of-the rat atmospheric models;
- design your own research strategy and analysis;
- critical discussion of model finding: suggesting potential improvements and finding out the limitation;
- written and oral presentation of the scientific results.


The course is evaluated with a written report (40%), evaluation of research skills (40%) and a final presentation and defense (20%).

Restricted Optional for: MEEEarth and EnvironmentMScB: Spec. B - Meteorology and Air Quality5MO
MCLClimate StudiesMScA: Spec. A - The Physical Climate System5MO