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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Meteorology

Undergraduate Course: Physics of Climate (METE10003)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThe 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 several different levels of complexity. These models allow us to explain the observed distribution of temperature, in relation to the fluxes of energy and matter through the climate system, and to consider the external and internal factors (both human and natural) which cause climatic change and variability. The course also briefly covers the observed climate, recent change and projections of future change.
Course description Syllabus
Lecture outline
1. L1: Course Introduction, Climate Variability, observed change, attribution of change
2. L2: 0-d Energy Balance model & Orbital Changes
3. L3: Changes in Earth¿s energy balance: Climate Forcing, sensitivity and feedbacks
4. L4: Projections of Climate Change.
5. L5: Zonal Energy Balance models
6. L6: Seasonal-Zonal Energy Balance models
7. L7: Time dependent climate change.
8. Energy Balance Model Computing Practical
9. L8: Radiative transfer: One layer atmosphere
10. Tutorial (Lectures 1-8)
Festival of Learning
11. L9: Radiative transfer: absorption, scattering
12. L10: Radiative transfer in the Infra-red.
13. L11: Understanding the Atmospheric Vertical Structure
14. L12: Radiative absorption
15. Mini-Presentations
16. L13: CO2 Forcing, Heating Rates & Absorption of Solar Radiation
17. Guess lecture on extreme events
18. L14: Scattering of solar radiation ¿ atmosphere, clouds and aerosols.
19. L15 3-D General Circulation models of ocean and atmosphere
20. Tutorial (Lectures 9-15)
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Introductory Dynamics (PHYS08052) OR Mathematical and computational methods in Geophysics (EASC09054) OR Dynamics and Vector Calculus (PHYS08043)
Prohibited Combinations 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 organiser and may be able to take the course.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( 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 78 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 80 %, Coursework 20 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Written Exam: 80%, Course Work: 20 %, Practical Exam: 0%.

Coursework - Literature Review

Each student should individually write a 3-page literature survey of the paper and related papers using an 11 point font. The page limit is for everything including references, figures, and captions. Exceeding it will result in a fail (or below) mark for the writing component. Your report should be submitted on Learn as a PDF (deadline Monday of week 11 at noon) and is assessed (20% of course mark). The report should address the questions: what was done in the paper and related literature (papers referred to by the paper or papers that cite it), how was it done, how does it relate to in the course, and what are good questions for further research. Do explicitly address these questions in your report and cite all the literature you reference ideally using Harvard style (for example Blogs, 2000; Blogs and Friend, 2001; Blogs et al, 2002). All reports must be independent.

Exam in May diet, will cover all material in lectures.

Assessment Deadlines
Literature Review Due Monday Week 11, 12noon (Submit via Turnitin)
Feedback Tutorial exercises are given each week for you to solve, with solutions posted on LEARN the week after for you to check their work. Verbal feedback is available after lectures or on appointment. You will receive written feedback on sticky-notes from CO and peers following your group mini presentation, and written feedback with their coursework mark within two weeks of submission.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)Physics of Climate2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand how changes in the earth¿s energy balance cause climate change, and understand the meaning of the term 'Climate sensitivity'
  2. Understand and predict the timescales of seasonal changes in climate, and climate change
  3. Understand how radiation travels through the atmosphere and how it is absorbed, scattered and emitted; and how the atmosphere causes the greenhouse effect
  4. 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.
  5. Describe the various types of simple and some specialised climate models and understand the uses and limitations of each type. Specifically the student will be familiar with energy-balance models and one-dimensional radiative-convective models of the atmosphere. The students will gain some insight into the construction and use of general circulation models of atmosphere and ocean, and of earth system models.
Reading List
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:

Essential Reading
Andrews, D. (2010): Introduction to Atmospheric Physics, 2nd Edition, Cambridge University Press. (This text covers much but not all of the material)

Recommended Reading
McGuffie and Henderson-Sellers (2005): A Climate Modelling Primer, Third Edition, John Wiley and Sons.

IPCC (2013): Climate Change 2013 - The Physical Science Basis. Cambridge University Press
Full text at Excellent for state of science, but doesn't provide background.

Further Reading
Perrehumbert (2010) Principles of Planetary Climate, Cambridge University Press. A very well written book but covers much more than the course does.

Taylor, F. (2005): Elementary Climate Physics, ISBN is 0 19 856733 2 (hardback) 0 19 856734 0 (paperback) -- good on radiation transfer.

D. L. Hartmann (2016): Global Physical Climatology, 2nd Edition. Elsevier, 485 pp.

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.

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

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information 2 one-hour lectures per week
Course organiserProf Simon Tett
Tel: (0131 6)50 5341
Course secretaryMs Katerina Sykioti
Tel: (0131 6)50 5430
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