Discusses the Earth's climate for nonscience majors, focusing on the role of the atmosphere, oceans, and land surface. Describes the water cycle, atmospheric circulations, and ocean currents, and how they influence global climate, El Nino, and the ozone hole. Discusses human impacts from climate change.
3 credit hours.
Prerequisite: ATOC 1050
Approved for arts and sciences core curriculum: natural science.
Fall 2006 (Offered fall and spring semesters.)
The Earth's climate has been changing since its formation 4.6 billion years ago. Climate varies on all time scales and is known to experience periods of glaciation as well as warmer periods. Since the industrial revolution, humans have burned large amounts of fossil fuels changing the composition of the atmosphere, cleared large forested regions for agriculture and caused climate to change. This class describes the basic components of the climate system: the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, and lithosphere. We investigate the basic physical processes that determine climate and link the components of the climate system. The class covers the energy budget, hydrological cycle and its role in climate, atmospheric and oceanic circulation, climate stability, global change, projecting climate and its application to human dimensions. This class is an upper level science course and will focus on the quantitative aspects of climate science.
3 credit hours.
Prerequisite: ATOC 1050 and 1060, or ATOC 3300/GEOG 3301, or GEOG
1001 and 1-semester calculus
- Same as GEOG 3601/ENVS 3600.
- Approved for arts and sciences core curriculum: natural science.
- Elective for ATOC minor.
Fall 2005 (Offered fall and spring semesters.)
An amount of energy from the Sun is intercepted by the Earth. While, exactly this amount of energy is ultimately radiated back to space, Earths, spherical shape and rotation causes local imbalance between incoming and outgoing radiation. This discrepancy gives rise to motions that ensure the radiative balance. Understanding the structure and dynamics of the atmosphere is central to forecasting weather and understanding climate. This course aims to build a fundamental set of physical principles and apply them to understanding large-scale atmospheric motions. We explore the dynamics of the Earth's atmosphere and basic properties and laws governing atmospheric motion. Mathematical descriptions of the atmospheric dynamics are constructed and interpreted in terms of their physical significance. By the end of this course we will have investigated phenomena such as geostrophic flow, mountain waves, planetary waves, mid-latitude cyclones, the planetary boundary layer, and the general circulation of the atmosphere.
Prerequisite: one year of calculus and one year of physics with calculus
Large-scale motions in a stratified rotating atmosphere. Quasi-geostrophic flow, barotropic and baroclinic instabilities, cyclogenesis, global circulations, and transport processes. Ageostrophic motions, including Kelvin waves, internal gravity waves, and the theory of frontogenesis are also considered.
- Review of fluid dynamics: vorticity, balanced motion, scaling principles and the important non-dimensional numbers based on observed characteristics of large-scale and meso-scale systems.
- Linear Waves of a rotating stratified atmosphere. Wave dispersion, group velocity, particle paths, rays and energy propagation. Physical interpretation of wave processes. The radius of deformation.
- Quasi-Geostrophic dynamics: relevant scaling, the Beta plane, diagnostic and prognostic equations. Rossby waves, rays and energy propagation revisited.
- Quasi-geostrophic instability theory. Baroclinic, Barotropic, and mixed instabilities. Physical interpretation of growth mechanisms and wavelength selection. Wave fluxes, energetics, and the role of eddies and waves in the general circulation.
- Equatorial Beta Plane. Kelvin, Rossby-gravity and Yanai waves.
- Planetary Wave Propagation. The non-interaction theorem, Elliasen-Palm fluxes, the role of wave critical layers.
- Introduction to frontogenesis. Higher order (non quasi-geostrophic) models.
- Convection in the atmosphere. Convective parameterizations. CISK.
Prerequisite: ATOC 5225 and ATOC 5400, or equivalent
Climate modeling has become a central methodology for hypothesis testing, theoretical development, climate analysis and a a tool for prediction. While the physical underpinnings of climate models are well understood and based on well established physics, the use (and abuse) of climate models in climate science, policy and the media is often shrouded is a veil of skepticism. Is this reasonable, or paranoia? What can be learned from climate models? How are they used successfully in scientific inquiry?
In this seminar we will read a series of papers the cover topics from contemporary climate modeling, as well as revisit important classics that enlightened the field and remain today as the basis for model development and understanding of climate. To foucs the inquiry, we will select, read and discuss a number of papers published in the last year that have been prepared in support of the upcoming IPCC 4th Assessment Report.
Fall 2006ATOC 6020 homepage.
"Several sciences are often necessary to form the groundwork of a single art" - Mills, 1843
"Science is knowledge which we understand so well that we can teach it to a computer; and if we don't fully understand something it is an art to deal with it" - Knuth, 1974
In the spirit of Mill and Knuth, this class will develop an approach to modeling complex systems, such as those of climate, based on the rigorous understanding of the underlying processes we understand and on exploiting our insight and creativity for those we do not. We will explore and use various numerical methods, develop computing skills, and deal with data handing as a means to and end of quantifying climate system behaviour.
1 hour lecture, and one 3-hour lab.
Spring 2006ATOC 7500 homepage.