Convenor: Dr Chris Brierley
Unit Value: 0.5 units
Year 3 Term 2
Brief Course Description
Emphasis will be placed on climate dynamics and how it helps explain climate variability and change. The course will address current research methodologies in this field, including climate system modelling, and will also cover appropriate aspects of applied climatology. Practical classes will involve quantitative data analysis of global climate datasets.
The overall aim of the course is to provide students with an understanding of the physical processes governing the behaviour of the Earth's climate system. This provides the basis for interpreting the debate surrounding contemporary climate change. In addition, students will gain experience of quantitative analysis of global climate datasets.
The course will be divided into two sections. Initially, the global climate will treated as a steady state and explanations for its structure discussed. The latter portion will be concerned with the processes of climate variability and change. Lectures will cover the theoretical framework needed to understand and describe anthropogenic climate change, in the recent past and into the future. The course will look at both ocean and atmosphere separately and then discuss their complex interactions. Practical classes will involve the student in quantitative analysis of global climate datasets (both observed and modelled) to assess aspects of climate variability.
Method of Teaching
The course will be taught by a combination of lectures and computer-based practicals. The latter will exemplify the principles raised in lectures and allow students to conduct their own analysis of climate data. Students will choose one practical to write-up as part of the formal assessment for the course.
Form of Assessment
The course will be assessed by a 2 hour written examination (50% of course mark) and a 2500 word write-up of one of the practical exercises (50% of course mark). This will involve quantitative analysis (using statistical and data analysis packages such as IDL or Excel and web-based analytical tools) of climate data (either observed or model output) to test theories regarding climate processes.
Solomon et al., Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis, Cambridge University Press, 996pp
This is the IPCC’s fourth assessment report. (esp. Technical Summary, chapters 2-4,8,10)
Neelin, Climate Change and Climate Modelling, Cambridge University Press, 282pp
A good textbook, but too simple at times. Further detail on ENSO and models than in course
Barry & Chorley, Atmosphere, Weather and Climate (9th ed. 2010).
A meteorology textbook that covers some climate material.
Marshall & Plumb, Atmosphere, Ocean, and Climate Dynamics: An Introductory text (2008), 319pp
Approaches the topic from a physics standpoint. Very good explanations if you’re happy with the maths.
Open University, Ocean Circulation (2nd ed. 2002). 286pp.
Nice overview of physical oceanography with a readable, informative style & good diagrams.
There are no prerequisites for students taking this course although students who have not taken the first year course Geog1002 ‘Physical Processes’ and Geog2020 ‘Hydroclimatology’ will find it necessary to undertake additional reading.