The University of Southampton
Courses

SOES6006 Climate Dynamics

Module Overview

This module offers you a rigorous introduction into the processes underlying climate variability and climate change, with emphasis on the ocean's key role. You will study a range of simple and more complex climate models, complemented by the skills and background knowledge to understand topical issues.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

1. To provide a rigorous introduction into the processes underlying climate variability and climate change, with emphasis on the ocean’s key role. 2. To introduce students to the development and use of a hierarchy of climate models, including simplified models that help to obtain conceptual understanding. 3. To provide students with the skills and background understanding needed to develop informed opinions on topical issues in climate science.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Outline the processes that determine past and present climates, and are relevant to future climate change.
  • Apply specialised oceanographic knowledge to the interpretation of observed fluctuations in climate.
  • Identify mechanisms that stabilise or destabilise the climate system, both from empirical results and from inspection of equations.
  • Choose climate models, at a level of complexity appropriate for the problem, and use them to address a range of scientific questions.
  • Critically analyse the recent literature on a range of topical issues in climate science.
Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Manipulation and use of mathematical models, both analytically and computationally.
  • Relating detailed dynamics of system components to overall system behaviour.
  • Critical thinking, and an appreciation of the limits of scientific understanding.

Syllabus

Concepts and models are introduced that help us to understand fundamental aspects of the Earth's climate, such as global mean temperature, large-scale temperature gradients, and what might cause these to vary on timescales of decades and longer. Particular emphasis will be placed on oceanic and coupled ocean-atmosphere processes. While we cover observations of the climate system and a hierarchy of models ranging from “simple box models” to general circulation models, the focus will be on conceptual understanding throughout. Discussing what is not understood, and hence identifying areas of current and future research, will be a crucial element.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Plenary-style Lectures (x 18): An outline of each lecture is provided prior to the start of a lecture or will be available on the blackboard website. Each lecture systematically covers the main concepts and topics by the use of PowerPoint presentations. Seminal papers: to read and discuss (a total of 8 hours reading time, 1 hour presentation preparation time, and 4 hours discussion time). Computer modeling workshops: two models (6 hours), each of which will be used in the independent research part of the course project. Workshops on mathematics of linear dynamical systems: providing essential background for applied theory section of course project (3 hours total) Optional project surgeries: opportunity for students to discuss their ideas for the project with course lecturers (Up to 5 hours total) A wide range of support can be provided for those students who have further or specific learning and teaching needs.

TypeHours
Lecture55
Independent Study95
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Blackboard. The lecture material is summarised at blackboard.soton.ac.uk. Instructions for accessing this material will be given during the course.

Assessment

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Modelling 35%
Paper presentation 25%
Project 40%
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