The University of Southampton
Courses

NATS2001 Creating an atmosphere: from pea-soupers to climate change

Module Overview

The chemical and photochemical processes that occur in the atmosphere at different altitudes have profound and fundamental effects on life. An understanding of the societal implications that may result from natural as well as anthropogenic perturbations of atmospheric processes is essential for the formulation and evaluation of mitigation actions.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

An understanding of the processes that occur in the atmosphere, and which underlie the effect we call ‘climate’ requires integration of concepts from chemistry (photoreactions, kinetics, gas phase reactivity), physics (radiative effects, transport processes) and earth systems (large scale circulation processes, air-sea interactions). Assessments of the potential societal effects that could occur as a result of climate change and the development and evaluation of mitigating actions are based on this scientific understanding, informed by social, economic and political considerations. The overall aim of this course is to equip our students with the basic factual knowledge that, together with knowledge acquisition skills and critical thinking skills, will enable them to make independent rational decisions relating to aspects of climate change that impact on their lives in the future. The core of the course will provide an introduction and integrated approach to the key chemistry, physics and earth system concepts that underpin our understanding of the natural and anthropogenic drivers of climate change.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • a broad overview of the evolution and composition of earth’s atmosphere
  • critical analysis skills in the application of chemical principles to explain concepts such as climate change and global warming
  • a sound understanding of cyclic chemical processes in different parts of the atmosphere (troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere)
  • a broad overview of the coupling between large scale circulation/transport and chemical processes
  • a good knowledge of photochemical and chemical reactions of atmospheric importance
  • a good understanding of the principles of chemical kinetics
  • a good understanding of the effect of anthropogenic chemical species on atmospheric processes (e.g. ozone depletion, photochemical smog)
  • a critical overview of predictions of the effect of changes in atmospheric processes on climate
  • a critical appreciation of the ethical issues and likely societal impacts that stem from different actions aimed at mitigating climate change and atmospheric pollution
  • strategies for acquiring, collating, interpreting, evaluating and presenting complex technical information from cutting-edge research publications

Syllabus

The philosophy underlying this module is to empower students to take charge of their own learning in the area of climate change and atmospheric science. As a consequence the course will make extensive use of directed and peer-assisted self-learning methods. This module will be delivered within the context of linked three focus areas: Composition & fundamental chemical processes Topics include: evolution of the earth’s atmosphere; composition of troposphere, stratosphere and mesosphere; cyclic chemical processes (carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur cycles); ozone; catalytic cycles; stratospheric pollution; tropospheric pollution/air pollution (smoke, sulphur, acid rain and photochemical smog). Fundamental physical processes Topics include: radiative heating; atmosphere temperature profiles; heat balance of the earth; large-scale circulation patterns (latitudinal and longitudinal circulation features); qualitative geophysical fluid dynamics. Atmosphere, climate and society Topics include how atmosphere affects climate climate and the biosphere; major sources of tropospheric pollution; climate models; climates of the future; climate change mitigation actions; societal effects of climate change mitigation.

Learning and Teaching

TypeHours
Independent Study100
Teaching50
Total study time150

Assessment

Formative

Workshop activities

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Assessment 70%
Research proposal 30%
Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Google+ Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×