This module is designed to give a fundamental understanding of the Earth's climate and use this to examine topical issues in climate change research. A hands-on approach enables you to apply your newly learned skills to real-world problems quickly.
Aims and Objectives
Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:
- Compare and critically evaluate uncertainties in different tools and evidence types for investigating the climate system, including climate models, geological archives and observational datasets.
- Outline the fundamental processes that control equilibrium climate and are relevant to past and ongoing climate change.
- Identify mechanisms that stabilise or destabilise the climate system and relate this to climate sensitivity and irreversible climate change.
- Critically analyse the recent literature on a range of topical issues in climate science.
- Identify, discuss and compare natural and anthropogenic periods of climate change, including future climate projections.
Fundamental Thermodynamics of atmosphere and ocean
- Laws of thermodynamics applied to the atmosphere and ocean
- Static stability, lapse rates and the structure of the atmosphere
The Earth’s Energy balance,
- Albedo and greenhouse effect
- Climate feedbacks and sensitivity
Climate as a System
- Stable and unstable steady states
- Bifurcation, hysteresis and chaos
Hysteresis in the climate system: fundamentals, and examples such as:
- Greenland ice sheet
- Snowball Earth
- How Hysteresis can give rise to ‘tipping points’ during periods of climate change
Dynamics of the atmosphere and ocean
- Laws of motion applied to the atmosphere and ocean
- Large-scale circulation and variability of atmosphere and ocean
Meridional Overturning Circulation of the ocean
- Driving processes and control on climate
- Instability, hysteresis, past and future change
The global climate system from the geological past to the anthropogenic future
- Evidence from observations and models
- Variability on a range of timescales
- Future climate change
- Links between climate and the carbon cycle
Learning and Teaching
Teaching and learning methods
Formal Lectures: The content of each lecture will be disseminated prior to each session. Lecture notes are extensively illustrated and additional references and materials are made available on Blackboard. Lectures are designed to be research led and are updated each year to reflect cutting edge developments in the field. Each year a small number of lectures may be delivered by external guest lectures, who are leading experts in their field.
Practical classes: will apply, train and extend the concepts and methods learned in the lectures, stressing a 'hands on' approach. Practicals include: working with simple climate and ice sheet models to investigate future climate projections and the fates of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets; and exploring climate sensitivity and polar amplification. Practicals are supported throughout, and feedback is provided during and at the end of the practical classes, with some model answers where appropriate. Practicals are designed to be integrated with the lectures. Students are given the opportunity to use their own data, for example arising from project work. Some practical slots will be used for small group work discussing topical research papers, with students given the opportunity to select topics that most interest them.
Talks and Seminars: Attending relevant research talks and seminars held in SOES where appropriate.
Tutorial Support: Support will be available from staff operating office hours policy.
A fundamental part of this course is INDEPENDENT READING.
A wide range of support can be provided for those students who have further or specific learning and teaching needs
|Total study time||150|
Formative assessment is provided during practical classes.
This is how we’ll formally assess what you have learned in this module.