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This subject describes the physics of the climate system, and how the system is represented in numerical models.
Key aspects include:
- Radiation balance and heat balance of the earth
- Carbon dioxide, water vapour and other Greenhouse Gas absorption spectra
- Other key climate drivers including solar variability, aerosols and clouds
- The global carbon cycle and the modelling of other greenhouse gases
- Impacts of climate change including sea level rise and extreme events
It covers aspects of uncertainty and chaos to understand why climate models are imperfect but invaluable tools. Students will build a simple climate model and run numerical experiments with different greenhouse gases. Existing knowledge in python programming is recommended but can be acquired throughout the course. The subject will also briefly discuss the processes of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNCCC) and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The 12 lectures cover the following themes: 1. Introduction; 2. Radiative forcing; 3. Climate feedbacks; 4. Carbon & gas cycles; 5. Oceans & sea level rise; 6. Aerosols & Clouds; 7. Variability and El Nino*; 8. Water Cycle and Extremes; 9. Ensemble & probabilistic projections, D&A; 10. Scenarios, carbon dioxide removal and solar radiation management; 11. Climate Targets, carbon budgets and the Paris Agreement*; 12. Wrap Up
The lectures are accompanied with weekly exercises that provide students with hands-on conceptual learning, modelling and data analysis experience.
Intended learning outcomes
On completion of this subject, students should be able to:
- Debate the reality of climate change in both a qualitative and quantitative manner;
- Develop and apply simplified climate models and make projections of future climate change;
- Assess different climate models currently in use, including quantification of uncertainty and its implications for future projections; and
- Critically examine existing literature, its gaps and limitations on various aspects of the climate system.
This subject will provide students with the opportunity to develop the following generic skills:
- Effective communicate with the science community at large and general public;
- Understanding of the process of scientific research with modelling and data challenges and uncertainties;
- Critical thinking about concepts, their nuances and the importance of precise definitions; and
- Understanding of the depth and complexity of key scientific concepts that inform national and international policy making on climate change.
Last updated: 3 August 2023