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ATM1020 - The science of climate

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Science

Leader: Dr Lyle Pakula


Clayton First semester 2007 (Day)


Climate and climate change are scientific issues that are becoming an every greater presence for modern society. This unit explores the basic principles and physical processes that define and govern the earth's climate. The response of the atmosphere and ocean to these forces are explored, as well as their role in establishing the variability of climate. The many various human activities that affect climate are explored. Finally the application of these principles to climate modeling is examined. The unit considers the nature of these predictions and the reasons for confidence and the sources of uncertainty in them.


Students will on completion of this unit be able to demonstrate an understanding of: the application of conservation of energy to the earth/atmosphere system and how it is used to define earth's climate; the physical processes that have a significant impact on the earth's climate; the dynamics of the atmosphere and ocean in response to this forcing and their role in establishing climate variability; the application of these principles and processes on a regional scale; how human activity, since the industrial revolution, has affected the climate; how these basic scientific principles are turned into modern climate models and examine the nature of climate forecasts. Students will also be able to demonstrate competence in information technology, data handling, laboratory skills, communication skills and team work as appropriate for the discipline of atmospheric science


Final Examination (3 hours): 50%
In-semester tests and laboratories: 50%

Contact hours

Three 1-hour lectures per week, one two-hour laboratory/support class per week, plus private study/research time.