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Introduction to Climate Change and Climate Variability

Human-induced climate change is one of the overriding environmental issues of our time. It has crucial implications for economy, health, safety, and other dimensions. To better appreciate its importance and mitigate its impacts, we need to understand the basic underlying science. This introductory course will present observations showing the ever-changing climate from early earth to present and lay down the fundamental principles of climate science. These principles include the global energy balance, atmospheric and oceanic circulations, as well as other related areas of the physical, chemical and biological sciences. After mastering the basic principles, we will examine the various natural climate variability and anthropogenic climate change, as well as some of the plausible consequences. We will also discuss the basics of global climate models, the major tool to understand and predict climate change and climate variability. By completing this course, the students are expected to have a general idea of the current status of climate science and know what the open questions are. This course also provides an opportunity to synthesize the knowledge that the students have learned from the core courses. The class will mainly consist of lectures and discussions of related materials.


Geophysical Fluid Dynamics

We all experience and are affected by the large-scale movements of air and water, such as hurricanes, thunderstorms and ocean circulation. Many people are also fascinated by the spectacular images of other planets. One example is Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. So what is the science behind all these interesting and important flow movements? Geophysical fluid dynamics (GFD) is the study specifically focusing on the large-scale flows on Earth and other planets. Three features set GDF apart from the other fluid dynamics. They are large-scale, rotation and stratification. In this introductory course, we will start with the fundamentals (e.g. controlling equations and basic concepts like diffusion and transport). We will then go through the effects of rotation and stratification on the large-scale flows. A few special cases that utilize or are closely related to GFD will be discussed at the end of this course. By completing this course, students are expected to have a general understanding of GFD, and know what knowledge and how to apply them to their research. The class will mainly consist of lectures and discussions of related materials.


The Warming Papers

In this reading course, we will go through a collection of classic papers that lay the foundation of the current understanding of climate change. Most of the papers are included in a book entitled “The Warming Papers”. Many of the major topics in climate science, such as the greenhouse effect, energy balance, ocean heat uptake, carbon cycle, etc., will be discussed. After taking this course, the students are expected to have a general idea of the evolution as well as the current understanding of climate science.