Fluid dynamics is the study of motions of fluid (air or water) and the handful
of physical principles that govern its behavior. Because fluid
dynamics addresses questions about both the state and evolution of the fluids,
it lies at the heart not only of understanding how fluids behave but also what their future state will be. ERTH 430 introduces you to
the equations that express the governing physical principles, and to ways of simplifying,
interpreting and applying those equations to understand observed fluid motions beneath Earth's surface, on the earth's surface, in streams, lakes, and oceans, and in the atmosphere.
ERTH 430 officially assumes that you already understand mathematical
ideas such as differentiation and integration, Newton's 2nd Law (m × a = ∑F), and Newton's law of universal gravitation, which we will nonetheless review as we go along, and it will introduce other ideas such as coordinate systems, vectors, and others as needed.
ERTH 430 should give you some understanding of how we describe the state and motion of fluids and of the dynamical behavior
of fluids in Earth systems as it is
constrained or governed by a few, basic physical principles. The course will also introduce you to a structured method of solving quantitative physical problems, which should improve your quantitative problem solving ability not only in ERTH 430 but in many other areas that require solving quantitative physical problems.
The physical principles that govern fluid behavior can be
expressed mathematically. These equations are powerful tools that we
can use to understand both qualitatively and quantitatively how fluids behave. By the time you've completed ERTH 430 you be able to demonstration that you can:
- interpret (and in some cases derive) the physical meaning of the
terms in the governing equations;
- describe the relations
between variables in the equations;
- recognize when to apply
assumptions to simplify the equations in different physical contexts, and apply those assumptions; and
strengths and limits of simplified solutions to the governing
You should also be able to interpret
graphical representations of fluid flow and other fluid properties in terms of the physical meaning of the
We will take advantage of the linear wave tank in the classroom to conduct experiments where you can learn to apply some of the skills listed above.
The faculty of the Department of Earth & Climate Sciences have established student learning outcomes (SLOs) for graduates of the Earth Sciences B.S. and B.A. degree programs. Those SLOs are listed below. I have italicized the SLOs that students who complete ERTH 430 successfully should either be able to meet or have made significant progress toward meeting.
- Scientific principles and methods Apply the scientific method to solve problems in the Earth sciences, which includes making observations, asking scientific questions, forming and testing hypotheses, and analyzing and evaluating the results.
- Collect, analyze, and interpret observations, and use field and laboratory equipment and data analysis software appropriate to their emphasis area in the Earth sciences.
- Explain that all observations contain uncertainty and be able to quantify this uncertainty.
- Retrieve, use, and critically interpret the scientific literature.
- Create and interpret graphical representations of data.
- Create, manipulate, and interpret mathematical representations of Earth systems models.
- Process-level understanding
- Demonstrate a qualitative understanding of the processes driving the major Earth systems, including the tectonic cycle, hydrologic cycle, carbon cycle, and Earth’s energy budget.
- Demonstrate a quantitative understanding of the processes driving the Earth systems in their area of emphasis.
- Demonstrate an understanding of the time and space scales of processes controlling changes in the major Earth systems.
- Application to societal issues
- Use scientific principles to inform society and evaluate issues arising from environmental change, such as natural hazards, resource management, and climate change.
- Give an informed critique of the scientific issues underlying current policy discussions that relate to their emphasis area.
- Collaborate effectively.
- Effectively communicate scientific information in a variety of oral, visual, and written formats.
Because ERTH 430 class size is relatively small, to some degree we have the luxury of adjusting and pacing
the material we cover to address your individual backgrounds.
We can afford to be very interactive, with lots of questions and discussion and
much less straight lecture than in many other classes. That means that you must
come prepared almost every day, or the discussions could be very one-sided, much
to your discomfort!
You will be assigned homework problems intermittently. We will practice solving problems, work with visualizations of fluid flows, and do physical experiments in our wave tank. You will learn just enough
about the MATLAB programming/graphics package to use it for several labs as well.
ERTH 430 assumes that you have a basic understanding of calculus, including differential calculus and (to a lesser extent) integral calculus (MATH 226), and that you
are familiar with Newton's Laws of Motion, especially his 2nd law (PHYS 111/112 or 220/222). One of the secondary goals of ERTH 430 is to help you continue to become a better physical problem solver.
The computers that we'll use most often are MacBook Pro laptops in TH 513. These
machines use Apple, Inc.'s Mac OS X operating system, a flavor of UNIX. Workstations
running UNIX are extremely common in the scientific community.
You'll be given reading assignments from various sources, whenever possible accompanied by a
set of "Reading Questions" designed to help you identify the most important points
made by the assigned reading. I expect you to have completed any previously assigned
reading before coming to class meetings that cover the corresponding material.
The Reading Questions will sometimes serve as the focus of participatory in-class
activities. Whenever possible I will post pre-class quizzes based on the assigned reading, to be completed on iLearn before class starts.
We'll spend class time in discussion, small-group problem solving, and lecture
modes, as well as on lab-like, in-class problem-solving exercises, some of which
will count as lab assignments.
Students with disabilities who need reasonable accommodations are encouraged to contact the instructor. The Disability Programs and Resource Center (DPRC) is available to facilitate the reasonable accommodations process. The DPRC is located in the Student Service Building and can be reached by telephone (voice/TTY 415-338-2472) or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) (https://access.sfsu.edu).
SF State fosters a campus free of sexual violence including sexual harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and/or any form of sex or gender discrimination. If you disclose a personal experience as an SF State student, the course instructor is required to notify the Dean of Students. To disclose any such violence confidentially, contact:
The SAFE Place: (415) 338-2208 (http://www.sfsu.edu/~safe_plc/)
Counseling and Psychological Services Center: (415) 338-2208 (http://psyservs.sfsu.edu/)
For more information on your rights and available resources: http://titleix.sfsu.edu
|Pre-class quizzes (on iLearn, based on assigned reading)
|In-class "clicker" questions
(scored responses to "clicker" questions in class; worst two dropped)
(unscored responses to regular "clicker" questions in class; one day's worth dropped)
| Short quizzes (no more than 3 in-class quizzes, 20-30
| Homework problems
|| 30% |
| Final Exam
|| 20% |
| Total possible for the course
I aim to grade on an absolute scale:
| below 60%
|| Never mind
However, if for some reason the assignments seem too difficult for the
class, I reserve the right to grade on a curve instead, which should
effectively raise the grade for many people.
Homework problems will generally be provided to you at least two class
meetings or six days before they are due, whichever comes first. Lab assignments will usually be provided
on the day of the lab. All assignments are due at the beginning of
class on the due date.
Beware that I reserve the right to grant or withhold credit for late assignments, so you should not count on receiving credit for them.
The schedule will be updated as the semester proceeds and due
dates become known. (I reserve the right to modify this schedule in
response to unforeseen events.) For the latest version of the schedule,