GEO354 Contemporary Climate Change and Processes

Level 3
Credits 20
Availability Approved for BA Geography; BSc Geography; Environmental Mathematics; Environmental Science; BSc Archaeology/Geography
Semester Spring
Prerequisites None

This module will involve the study of climate, with the emphasis on climatic forcing factors, observations and modelling of the climate system, and ice-climate links, all on the contemporary timescale (past few to next few centuries). The underpinning geophysics will be presented, but using the minimum of mathematics, in order to gain the fullest understanding of processes involved. We will also look at societal implications of climate change.

  1. To demonstrate ways of measuring and modelling climate change.
  2. To provide an understanding of climate processes & change.
Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module, a student will be able to:

  1. Understand how climate is inextricably coupled with other physical components of the Earth system.
  2. Competently handle, statistically manipulate and interpret data in the real world.
  3. Recognise and quantify the sensitivity of numerical climate models to inputs.
  4. Construct and discuss conceptual models which simulate variability in the climate system.
Outline Contents
  1. Introduction and course outline. Contemporary climate and climatic forcing factors
  2. Measuring and analysing Climate records
  3. Our Sun: a variable star and its effect on climate
  4. Volcanoes: indexing eruptions
  5. Ice in the climate system
  6. Reading Week
  7. Climate modelling
  8. The Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming; Future climate scenarios & uncertainties
  9. Climate feedbacks
  10. Life, Gaia and climate
  11. Modelling ice-sheet mass balance / Revision
Delivery Methods Lectures, coursework, practicals
Student Contact Hours 32
Supporting Texts
  • IPCC, Climate Change 2007 (2007) The Physical Science Basis Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
  • Houghton, J., (2009) Global Warming: The Complete Briefing (4th edition)
  • Burroughs, W.J., (2007) Climate Change: A Multidisciplinary Approach, 2nd edition.
Assessment Methods Examination (60%), coursework essay (40%)
(convenor underlined)
Dr Edward Hanna, Dr Julie Jones

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