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The University of Southampton
Courses

SOES6079 Climate and Climate Change

Module Overview

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

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • 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.
  • Compare and critically evaluate uncertainties in different tools and evidence types for investigating the climate system, including climate models, geological archives and observational datasets.
  • Identify, discuss and compare natural and anthropogenic periods of climate change, including future climate projections.

Syllabus

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

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

- A series of short (less than 15 minute) lectures introducing new topics - A series of short interactive sessions building on these using e.g. online quizzes and feedback, small group online discussion and feedback - A series of short (less than 15 minute) lectures adding depth to key topics, and providing key references - 5 in-person computer practical classes focused on the key learning outcomes. Class sizes of less than 25 will be used for these to enable safe socially-distanced learning - 6 remote practical Teams sessions. Small class sizes will be used to ensure effective on-line teaching - Independent reading of scientific literature - Teaching staff will offer optional one-to-one sessions with students throughout the module

TypeHours
Teaching56
Independent Study94
Total study time150

Assessment

Assessment Strategy

Formative assessment is provided during practical classes.

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Literature review  (2000 words) 50%
Practical assignment 50%
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