Undergraduate Course: Physics of Climate (METE10003)
|School||School of Geosciences
||College||College of Science and Engineering
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||The course introduces the principal physics of climate and climate modelling, focussing on the Earth. The climate system is so complex that we approach it by constructing models with different levels of complexity. These models allow us to explain the observed distribution of temperature, explain how climate changes with the seasons and with changes in external factors such as changes in greenhouse gases or volcanic eruptions, and understand the factors which cause climatic change and variability. The course also covers how water and carbon, the building blocks of life, cycle in the earth system. You will reach an understanding of causes of past climate change, from millennia to the past decade, and of predictions of future climate change.
Lectures: The 20 timetable slots will consist of 10 lectures on energy balance, radiative transfer and modelling, followed by up to 8 special topics. These will be introduced by a student group presentation discussing a paper, and followed by short lecture material on the same subject. 1-2 computing practical sessions will be held in lecture slots to support the application of theoretical concepts and by a tutorial on solving problems in class.
Weeks 1-6: fundamental concepts of climate variability and change;
- Global and zonal energy balance, climate sensitivity and time dependent climate change (weeks 1-3).
- Radiative transfer through the atmosphere and radiatively active gases (weeks 3-5)
- Fundamentals of climate modelling (week 6)
Weeks 7-10: Overview of general atmospheric circulation, the water cycle, the carbon cycle, past climates, and observed and predicted climate change; supported by group presentations on a short scientific publication in general scientific audience journals.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
|| Students MUST have passed:
Mathematics for Physics 4 (PHYS08038) OR
Dynamics and Vector Calculus (PHYS08043)
||Other requirements|| Students who don¿t meet the prerequisites, but are able to manipulate differential equations and have some knowledge of physics (including fundamental conservation laws, ideal gas laws) should get in touch with the course organizer and may be able to take the course.
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2016/17, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Lecture Hours 15,
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 1,
Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 2,
Summative Assessment Hours 2,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
Abstract for Presentation 20%
Exam in May diet, will cover both theoretical background and examples from later lectures, although with stronger focus on theoretical background. Group mini-presentations based on discussion of scientific papers, focused on applied part of the course, in the later part of the course. The presentations are not assessed, but each student submits a written 1-page abstract on the paper discussed in the presentation (individual work) which is assessed as course work. Please note that there are no assessed attendance requirements on this course.
Submission of coursework is due at the end of week 10.
||Tutorial exercises are given each week for students to solve, with solutions posted on LEARN the week after for students to check their work. Verbal feedback is available after lectures or on appointment. Students receive written feedback on sticky-notes from CO and peers following their group mini presentation, and written feedback with their coursework mark within two weeks of submission. Exam marking includes comments to students.
||Hours & Minutes
|Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)||Physics of Climate||2:00|
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Understand how changes in the earth¿s energy balance cause climate change
- Understand how radiation travels through the atmosphere and how it is absorbed and emitted; and how the atmosphere causes the greenhouse effect
- View the climate systems as one which, although it is far too complex to represent exactly in mathematical terms, may nevertheless be modelled using physical principles.
- Describe the various types of simple and some specialised climate models and understand the uses and limitations of each typebe familiar with climate history from millennia to recent decades and its causes and understand how climate projections are made
|The course is not oriented on a single book, and instead relies heavily on printed course notes posted on LEARN. The course draws on the following books:|
D. L. Hartmann (1994): Global Physical Climatology. Academic Press. Vol 56 in their International Geophysics series, 411 pp.
Taylor, F. (2005): Elementary Climate Physics, ISBN is 0 19 856733 2 (hardback) 0 19 856734 0 (paperback)
Andrews, D. (2000): Introduction to Atmospheric Physics, Cambridge University Press.
Peixoto, J. and Oort, A. (1992): Physics of Climate, AIP. Comprehensive and lucid account of climate physics, with strong emphases on real world observations and rigorous mathematical treatment.
Hartmann, McGuffie and Andrews covers a fair bit of the material. The book by Peixoto & Oort is an excellent alternative if a fairly mathematical treatment suits you.
McGuffie and Henderson-Sellers (2005): A Climate Modelling Primer, John Wiley & Sons.
Wallace, J. M and Hobbs, P (2006): Atmospheric Science. Academic Press. Not same emphasis as in lectures but very well done and lots of relevant material
Trenberth, K. (1992): Climate system modeling, Cambridge University Press.
IPCC (2013): Climate Change 2013 - The Physical Science Basis. Full text at
http://www.ipcc.ch/ Excellent for state of science, but doesn't provide background.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Additional Class Delivery Information
||2 one-hour lectures per week
|Course organiser||Prof Simon Tett
|Course secretary||Mr Matthew Hathaway
Tel: (0131 6)50 5430
© Copyright 2016 The University of Edinburgh - 3 February 2017 4:46 am