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 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.
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
16. L13: CO2 Forcing, Heating Rates & Absorption of Solar Radiation
17. Guest 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)
These are important to deepen your learning and understanding and prepare for exam. Questions are on the handouts and you should try to solve independently. Solutions will be posted 1 week later and will be discussed in tutorial.
One computer lab where you can experiment with simple climate models, and see how changes in the atmosphere, the sun, and volcanic eruptions shaped climate change over the 20th century. You will also be able to run simple models outside class.
Small group (~2 to 3 people) presentations of 5 minutes based on papers; papers available on Learn. Pick a topic that interests you and find one or two other students to do the presentation. Topics are allocated on a first-come first-serve basis in week 3. Each student should individually write a 3-page literature survey of the paper and related papers. This should be submitted on Learn (deadline Friday of week 10 at 12 noon) and is assessed (20% of course mark). The hand-in should address the questions: what was done in the paper and related literature (for the papers without a reference list or very short one, eg Ruddiman, you should find literature that cites it), how was it done, and how does it relate to in the course. You should cite all the literature you reference, ideally, using Harvard style (for example Blogs, 2000; Blogs & Friend, 2001; Blogs et al, 2002). All hand-ins must be independent.
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2022/23, 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)
||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.
||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, and understand the meaning of the term 'Climate sensitivity'
- Understand and predict the timescales of seasonal changes in climate, and climate change
- Understand how radiation travels through the atmosphere and how it is absorbed, scattered 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 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.
|Recommended Reading |
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:
Andrews, D. (2010): Introduction to Atmospheric Physics, 2nd Edition, Cambridge University Press. (This text covers much but not all of the material)
McGuffie and Henderson-Sellers (2005): A Climate Modelling Primer, Third Edition, John Wiley & Sons.
IPCC (2013): Climate Change 2013 - The Physical Science Basis. Cambridge University Press Full text at http://www.ipcc.ch/ Excellent for state of science, but doesn't provide background.
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
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Additional Class Delivery Information
||2 one-hour lectures per week
|Course organiser||Prof Simon Tett
Tel: (0131 6)50 5341
|Course secretary||Mr Johan De Klerk
Tel: (0131 6)50 7010