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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Meteorology

Undergraduate Course: Introduction to Three Dimensional Climate Modelling (ENVI11002)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Year 5 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThe aim of the course is to provide a theoretical and practical introduction to three dimensional climate modelling. This will allow students to have an appreciation of the strengths and weaknesses of climate models and for some to subsequently carry out projects which make use of climate models.
The course is structured as a set of guided readings of the text book An Introduction to Three Dimensional Climate Modelling, 2nd Edition by Washington and Parker. With a group project to develop practical skills in running and analysing climate models.
Students will be expected to read selected parts of the text and come to the class to discuss areas where they are uncertain. The lecturer will aim to clarify areas where the class are uncertain and provide guidance and structure for the next set of readings.
Course description Syllabus
10 Sessions (Block 1):
The numbers refer to sections & sub-sections in An Introduction to Three Dimensional Climate Modelling, 2nd edition.
Session 1: Introduction.
- Course aims.
- Climate System - land and Ocean. (section 2.1, 2.2, 2.4.1-2.4.4)

Session 2: Equations of motion for the Atmosphere & the Oceans
(Students who have not studied Atmospheric Dynamics might find this session difficult)
- Governing Equations for the Atmosphere sections 3.1-3.3 (pp 49-69)
- Governing equations for the Ocean (3.8.1 & 3.8.3-3.8.4)

Session 3: Grid Point Methods
- Grid-point methods (Sections 4.1 & 4.2)
- Semi-Lagrangian methods for advection. (4.7)

Session 4: Spectral Methods
- Spectral Methods (4.4 & 4.5)
Session 5: Spectral Methods (ctd)
- supplementary material

Session 6: Discussion on Numerical Methods (covering sessions 3, 4 & 5).

Session 7: Radiation & Parameterisation
- Radiation (3.6.1-3.6.5)
- Clouds (3.6.6.-3.6.9)

Session 8: Group project briefing

Session 9: Evaluation and model use
- Sensitivity to Initial Conditions
- Simulations of Present Climate (5.1, 5.2, 5.5)
- Using Models to understand possible future climates (6.6 & 6.10)

Session 10: Student topic presentations

The course will be run as a set of guiding readings largely of parts of the textbook "Introduction to Three Dimensional Climate Modelling" by Washington and Parkinson supplemented by Vallis and other material. There will be ten 1hour seminars over the semester. In seven of the seminars, the lecturer will outline the key ideas for the next fortnights reading and have some discussion on the previous reading. These seminars will occur roughly fortnightly and be interspersed with four seminars organised as question and answer sessions, driven by student need. In these seminars the lecturer will help students with material that they have found difficult. Students are expected to spend 9 hours/week working through readings; doing problems etc.

The course functions on the assumption that level 11 students are mature enough to be self-learners. So students will be expected, perhaps with some guidance, to seek out additional material and read some literature.
To supplement the theoretical study practical training in how to run the Unified Model (or other climate models). Two ½ day labs Wed 2-5 in weeks 3 and 5.

Further Course Information
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Dynamics and Vector Calculus (PHYS08043) OR Introductory Dynamics (PHYS08052)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students are strongly recommended to have some experience with programming computers prior to the course.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  20
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 76 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessment Details
Written Exam: 50%, Course Work: 50 %, Practical Exam: 0%.

The exam will be two questions out of three. Two of the questions will be theoretical where the students can demonstrate their understanding of the theoretical concepts in the course and a third essay based one where students can demonstrate their understanding of how to use climate models and some broader reading.

The course work is a group exercise which will be assessed using a similar marking scheme to project work. Students are expected to keep a diary and individual students can receive more or less marks based on their contribution to the report. This will be assessed using peer marking moderated by the course organiser.

Assessment Deadlines
A modelling and analysis group exercise will be taken in weeks 6 to 10 with a group report to be handed in at 12noon, Tuesday Week 9
Feedback At each of the sessions after the first session students will be given an opportunity to discuss their reading and receive feedback from the course lecturer.

Feedback and guidance will be given during the practical modelling and analysis exercise.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)Introduction to Three Dimensional Climate Modelling1:30
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Have a theoretical understanding of the principals underlying three dimensional climate models
  2. Have a theoretical understanding of how climate models work
  3. Have a practical understanding of how to run a climate model
  4. Have a practical understanding of how to analyse climate model output
Reading List
Essential Reading
Washington and Parker (2005) 'An Introduction to Three Dimensional Climate Modelling, 2nd Edition' . University Science Books. The 2nd edition is quite different from the 1st edition.
Further Reading
Geoffrey K. Vallis (2017) Atmospheric and Oceanic Fluid Dynamics Cambridge University Press, 2nd Edition. Vallis makes much more use of vector calculus in some derivations than do Washington and Parker.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information 1 one-hour session per week.
KeywordsClimate Modelling
Course organiserProf Simon Tett
Tel: (0131 6)50 5341
Course secretaryMr Johan De Klerk
Tel: (0131 6)50 7010
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