John Marshall

Professor of Ocean and Climate Science



12.003: Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate
The laws of classical mechanics and thermodynamics are used to explore how the properties of fluids on a rotating Earth manifest themselves in, and help shape, the global patterns of atmospheric winds, ocean currents, and the climate of the Earth. Theoretical discussion focuses on the physical processes involved. Underlying mechanisms are illustrated through laboratory demonstrations, using a rotating table, and through analysis of atmospheric and oceanic data.

12.307: Weather and Climate Laboratory
A laboratory subject intended to illustrate, by means of hands-on projects, the basic dynamical and physical principles which govern the general circulation of the atmosphere and the day-to-day sequence of weather events. Real-time meteorological observations are studied together with laboratory fluid experiments. Projects based on real-time observations stress the analysis and dynamical interpretation of the real phenomena, while complementary rotating tank experiments stress planning and testing of ideas in a more controlled laboratory environment. Written critical summaries of the results of each project and oral presentations are an integral part of the subject.

See also 12.301/12.842: Past and Present Climate, described below.


12.801: General Circulation of the Ocean
Fundamental principles of geophysical fluid dynamics are applied to the ocean to understand and describe its global circulation patterns. Includes geostrophic dynamics, planetary geostrophy, Ekman pumping, wind and thermally driven ocean circulation, thermocline theory, western-boundary current dynamics, abyssal circulation, mixing, dynamics of circumpolar jets, baroclinic instability, geostrophic turbulence, eddy-mean flow interaction.

12.301/12.842: Past and Present Climate
This class aims to provide a broad introduction to the Earth’s climate, past, present and future, and its inter-connected global biogeochemical cycles. The class begins with an exploration of the modern state of the climate and carbon cycle. Aspects of the paleoclimate record are then discussed focusing on very warm and cold periods of Earth’s history (Greenhouse and Icehouse), broadening and reinforcing the concepts and mechanistic understanding discussed in the modern context. The class closes with a discussion of anthropogenic influences on climate and the carbon cycle and projections for the future.
with Professors Mick Follows and David McGee

12.800: Rotating, Stratified Fluids
This class introduces fluid dynamics to first year graduate students and upper-level undergraduates. The aim is to help students acquire an understanding of some of the basic concepts of fluid dynamics that will be needed as a foundation for advanced courses in atmospheric science, physical oceanography, ocean engineering, etc. The emphasis will be on fluid fundamentals, but with an atmosphere/ocean twist.