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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Dennis L Hartmann
ATM S 321
Seattle Campus

The Science of Climate

Evolution and present state of earth's climate. Emphasis on physical processes determining the climate of the earth's atmosphere and surface: radiative transfer, energy balance, hydrologic cycle, and atmospheric and oceanic energy transport. Factors controlling climate change. Prerequisite: minimum of grade of 2.0 each of MATH 124; MATH 125; MATH 126; PHYS 121; PHYS 122; PHYS 123. Offered: Sp.

Class description

This is a course on the physics of the climate of Earth for upper division science students. We will discuss how the surface temperature of Earth is maintained and altered through radiative, convective and dynamic processes. A general introduction to the climate system, and the energy balance of Earth. The role of the atmosphere, land and ocean in the climate system. General circulation of the atmosphere and ocean. Natural climate variations - ice ages. Paleoclimatic data sources. Human induced climate change.

Student learning goals

Understand the basic processes that determine the Earth's surface climate.

Understand the natural processes that cause Earth's climate to vary.

Understand the human alterations to the climate system and how they are causing the climate to change.

General method of instruction

Lecture and Discussion

Recommended preparation

Some background in atmospheric sciences or oceanography will be assumed, but the only real requirement is background in Physics and Mathematics equivalent to first year calculus and first year physics, e.g. MATH 126 and PHYS 116. Working knowledge of algebra, calculus and Newtonian physics will be assumed.

Class assignments and grading

Weekly homeworks, occasional quizzes, a mid-term exam and a final exam.

Homework 25% Quizzes 20% Mid-Term Exam 20% Final Exam 35%


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Class Web Page
Last Update by Dennis L Hartmann
Date: 02/13/2013