MTMG16-Climate Change

Module Provider: Meteorology
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Co-requisites: MTMG02 Atmospheric Physics
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Prof Richard Allan


Summary module description:

This module aims to develop a conceptual, but also quantitative, understanding of climate variability and change.

The aim of the course is to develop a conceptual, but also quantitative, understanding of climate variability and change. It will address the application of this understanding to key issues such as the detection of climate changes in the historical record, and the attribution of changes to specific causes such as human activities. A further important aim is to understand the method and limitations of climate prediction. In addition to the core lectures the course includes a series of structured seminars that will introduce students to the cutting edge of climate research in several selected areas, including climate impacts and policy responses.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

• Describe mathematically the concepts of radiative forcing and climate feedback, and the application of these concepts to describing equilibrium and transient climate change;

• Explain the use of observations in climate prediction, including detecting climate changes and attributing their cause;

• Describe and explain the major causes and characteristics of internally generated and externally forced climate variability and change;

• Describe the drivers of past climate change;

• Evaluate recent observed changes in climate in the context of changes that have occurred in the past;

• Describe the formulation of climate models, and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses;

• Describe the basis, methods, and limitations, of climate prediction;

• Assess the potential impacts of climatic change and options for policy responses.

Additional outcomes:
Students will develop their ability to synthesise and criticise latest research results

Outline content:

The lecture content covers:

• Transient and equilibrium climate change;

• Radiative forcing of climate change: greenhouse gases, solar variability, aerosols and volcanoes;

• Climate feedback mechanisms;

• Causes of climate change on millennial and longer timescales: orbital forcing and ice age cycles;

• Rapid climate change;

• Observations of climate variability and change;

• Internal variability of the climate system, including ENSO;

• Climate modelling: from simple models to Earth system models;

• Projected changes in climate and policy responses;

• Climate extremes and impacts;

• Changes in sea level.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Lectures, structured seminars and one problem class.

Reading lists for meteorology modules are available here

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 12
Seminars 4
Practicals classes and workshops 2
Guided independent study 82
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Project output other than dissertation 20
Class test administered by School 80

Other information on summative assessment:

Formative assessment methods:
2 worksheets.

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

Length of examination:
2 hour exam with a choice of two from three questions in April.

Requirements for a pass:


Reassessment arrangements:
For candidates who have failed, an opportunity to take a resit examination will be provided within the lifetime of the course.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

1) Required text books: 2) Specialist equipment or materials: 3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear: 4) Printing and binding: 5) Computers and devices with a particular specification: 6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 31 March 2017

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