Atmospheric Sciences 321 - Physical Climatology


Week 1: The Climate System and the Global Energy Balance: Study Chapters 1 and 2 of GPC

The climate system is composed of the atmosphere, oceans, land surface and ice sheets. The temperature of Earth is determined by its energy balance through the first law of thermodynamics. The surface temperature and the emission temperature are different and this is the greenhouse effect.

Week 2: Atmospheric Radiative Transfer and the Vertical Energy Balance: Study Chapter 3 of GPC.

We can study the effect of the atmosphere on the energy balance and the surface temperature by using one-dimensional radiative-convective energy balance models.

Week 3: The Surface Energy Balance: Study Chapter 4 of GPC.

Temperature at the surface depends on the surface energy balance which has convective as well as radiative terms. The heat balance is strongly coupled to the water balance of the surface.

Week 4: The Hydrologic Cycle and Climate: Study Chapter 5 of GPC.

Water and energy balances basically determine the climate near the surface.

Week 5: The Atmospheric General Circulation and Energy Transport: Study Chapter 6 of GPC.

The atmosphere rapidly moves heat and water from place to place through zonal mean and eddy circulations.

Week 6: The Atmospheric General Circulation and Patterns of Climate:

The atmospheric circulation has a strong control on reginal moisture and heat balances.

Week 7: The Oceanic Circulation and Climate: Study Chapter 7 of GPC.

The ocean has long-term memory because of it high heat capacity. It also is a fluid and moves energy around.

Week 8: History of Climate and Natural Climate Variations: Study Chapter 8 of GPC.

Earth has experienced major climate chagnes over time. This history is apparent in natural recording systems.

Week 9: Natural Climate Change: Study Chapter 11 of GPC

Natural forces drive climate change. These affects, like changing orbital parameters, are amplified by the natural feedback processes within the climate system.

Week 10: Anthropogenic Climate Change: Study Chapter 12 of GPC.

Humans now compete with the natural forces that drive climate change, particularly through the release of long-lived greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.