Stanford School of Earth Sciences

Leif Thomas


Oceanic Fluid Dynamics CEE/EESS 363F (Spring 2021, Spring 2020, Fall, 2017; Spring 2012, 2011, 2009)

The fundamental dynamics of rotating stratified fluids with application to oceanic flows. Topics include inertia-gravity waves, geostrophic and cyclogeostrophic balance, vorticity and potential vorticity dynamics, quasi-geostrophic motions, planetary and topographic Rossby waves, inertial, symmetric, barotropic, and baroclinic instability, Ekman layers, and the frictional spin-down of geostrophic flows.

Advanced Topics in Geophysical Fluid Dynamics CEE/EESS 364F (Autumn 2012)

A seminar-style class covering the classic papers on the theory of the large-scale ocean circulation. Topics include: wind-driven gyres, mesoscale eddies and geostrophic turbulence, eddy-driven recirculation gyres, homogenization of potential vorticity, the ventilated thermocline, subduction, and the abyssal circulation.

Atmosphere, Ocean, and Climate Dynamics: The Atmospheric Circulation EESS 246A, EARTHSYS 146A, CEE 161I/261I (Winter 2019; Winter 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2011)

Introduction to the physics governing the circulation of the atmosphere and ocean and their control on climate with emphasis on the atmospheric circulation. Topics include the global energy balance, the greenhouse effect, the vertical and meridional structure of the atmosphere, dry and moist convection, the equations of motion for the atmosphere and ocean, including the effects of rotation, and the poleward transport of heat by the large-scale atmospheric circulation and storm systems.

Atmosphere, Ocean, and Climate Dynamics: The Ocean Circulation EESS 246B, EARTHSYS 146B, CEE 162I/262I (Winter 2021, Winter 2020, Spring 2019; Spring 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2012, 2011, 2010)

Introduction to the physics governing the circulation of the atmosphere and ocean and their control on climate with emphasis on the large-scale ocean circulation. This course will give an overview of the structure and dynamics of the major ocean current systems that contribute to the meridional overturning circulation, the transport of heat, salt, and biogeochemical tracers, and the regulation of climate. Topics include the tropical ocean circulation, the wind-driven gyres and western boundary currents, the thermohaline circulation, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, water mass formation, atmosphere-ocean coupling, and climate variability.

Earth System Dynamics EESS 215 (Spring 2010) Co-taught with Noah Diffenbaugh, Chris Field and Eric Lambin

An introductory graduate-level course emphasizing qualitative understanding of key components of the earth system (lithosphere, hydrosphere/oceans, biogeochemistry, biosphere, atmosphere, humans, climate change) at the regional-to-global scale, and the mass, energy, and momentum transport processes that govern dynamics with and between these system components. Governing equations will be presented but a qualitative process understanding and graduate-level Earth System literacy will be emphasized.