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Climate Science

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Jessica Kleiss

Lewis & Clark College,
Private four-year institution, primarily undergraduate


Introduction to the earth's climate from a physical, earth-systems perspective. Prehistoric and historic fluctuations in the earth's climate, the current climate system, and projections for future climate and climate impacts. Topics will include the radiative balance of the earth's atmosphere, the greenhouse effect, albedo, aerosols, clouds, climate feedbacks, ocean circulation, climate variability including El Nino and the Pacific decadal oscillation, the carbon cycle, paleoclimate proxy records, ocean acidification, and climate models. We will examine some responses to climate change, including geoengineering, adaptation, and mitigation. Weekly laboratory exercises with climate data observations and models (computer-based), and physical mechanisms (lab- and field-based). Lecture and lab.
Prerequisites: None.

Subject: Geoscience:Oceanography
Resource Type: Course Information
Grade Level: College Lower (13-14)
Earth System Topics: Oceans
Course Size:

Course Context:

This is an introductory course in Climate Science. The only pre-requisite is the college's bare-bones quantitative reasoning exam (which includes basic algebra). The course is attended by Freshmen through Seniors, from ALL majors.

Perhaps 25% of the students are Environmental Studies majors, and this course is one of their elective courses. Otherwise, this course satisfies the college's General Education "Quantitative Reasoning" category.

This course includes a full lab: every week, for 3 hours. The lab typically takes place in the campus computer lab. Includes one required field trip.

Course Goals:

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

The AMS textbook addresses the goals of conceptualizing the many interacting systems and functions of the Earth's climate system, and the goal of interpreting local weather in the context of climatological influences. I add the goal to evaluate discussions of climate change from the current scientific viewpoint through the use of "Climate in the News" assignment, and a "Climate Skeptics" writing assignment.

Skills Goals

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

The AMS textbook is not very quantitative, so I consistently supplemented the course with quantitative exercises and assignments. Tests and in-class activities often focused on asking students to produce a drawing or figure to demonstrate a physical mechanism of the climate system.



Syllabus for Climate Science Lewis_Clark College 2013 Jessica Kleiss (Acrobat (PDF) 75kB May31 13)

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