Module OSX-3021:
Oceans, Atmosphere and Climate

Module Facts

Run by School of Ocean Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Margot Saher

Overall aims and purpose

The module aims to introduce the student to the external forcing factors and internal processes which modulate and control the Earth’s climate system. These factors and processes will be investigated as they have worked in the past, as they are operating right now, and as we expect them to operate in the future. Major issues include the primary external forcings of natural climate variability (tectonic, orbital and solar), internal processes and feedbacks within the Earth system, anthropogenic drivers of climate change, impacts of climate change, future climate change, and mitigation and adaptation strategies.

These issues are addressed by: (i) examining natural climate variability over different geological timescales; (ii) understanding the important role of the oceans, atmosphere and cryosphere in regulating the Earth’s climate; (iii) developing models of the Earth’s climate; (iv) assessing inter-annual and inter-decadal climate variability; (v) assessing the impacts of climate change and various proposed mitigation and adaptation responses.

Course content

The core part of this module consists of three parts:

A. Climate Processes and Interactions including radiation and global energy balance, the greenhouse effect and climate feedbacks, redistribution of solar energy across the globe, ocean circulation including vertical mixing and deep water formation, and ice and ocean interaction;

B. Natural Climate Variability on Geological Timescales including large scale processes (such as orogeny, erosion and long term biogeochemical processes that operate on timescales of tens or hundreds of millions of years), external orbital forcing (glacial/interglacial cycles), external solar forcing (eg solar minima such as the Maunder Minimum), event-based perturbations (eg volcanic events) and Earth system feedbacks (e.g. ice-ocean-climate feedbacks);

C. Decadal and Annual Climate Variability and the Impacts of Climate Change including decadal scale and regional climatic oscillations such as El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), oceanic CO2 drawdown, in situ monitoring of marine climate change, sea level and coastal flooding, and Earth observation (remote monitoring) of climate variability.

Assessment Criteria

good

Demonstrating a good ability to analyse the response of the climate system to forcings over different timescales and at varying frequencies, to appreciate the complexity of the climate response of the Earth system and in particular the feedbacks that characterise this complexity, to undertake simple calculations relating to the Earth's radiation and global energy balance, and to offer informed advice on climate prediction (including an appreciation of probability), climate change impacts and mitigation strategies.

excellent

Demonstrating an excellent ability to analyse the response of the climate system to forcings over different timescales and at varying frequencies, to appreciate the complexity of the climate response of the Earth system and in particular the feedbacks that characterise this complexity, to undertake simple calculations relating to the Earth's radiation and global energy balance, and to offer informed advice on climate prediction (including an appreciation of probability), climate change impacts and mitigation strategies.

threshold

Demonstrating a basic ability to analyse the response of the climate system to forcings over different timescales and at varying frequencies, to appreciate the complexity of the climate response of the Earth system and in particular the feedbacks that characterise this complexity, to undertake simple calculations relating to the Earth's radiation and global energy balance, and to offer informed advice on climate prediction (including an appreciation of probability), climate change impacts and mitigation strategies.

Learning outcomes

  1. analyse the response of the climate system to forcings over different timescales and at varying frequencies;

  2. undertake simple calculations relating to the Earth's radiation and global energy balance;

  3. offer informed advice on climate prediction (including an appreciation of probability), climate change impacts and mitigation strategies.

  4. appreciate the complexity of the climate response of the Earth system and in particular the feedbacks that characterise this complexity;

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Arctic Science Briefing Exercise 20
'Conversation'-type article 40
Exam 40

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
 

Attend presentations OSX4015 students

8
Lecture 25
Private study 167

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: