ATM S 211: Climate and Climate Change

Class Description

An introductory course for nonscience majors on climate and climate change. The class will be divided in three parts:

* Climate of the present. We will examine the nature of the global climate system and the main processes controlling climate. Topics covered will include the global energy balance, atmospheric circulation, the role of oceans and ice in climate, the carbon cycle, atmospheric composition.

* Climate of the past. In this part of the class we will discuss how climate changed in the past on timescales ranging from billions of years to thousands of years.

* Climate of the future. Is the Earth getting warmer? Why? How will climate change over the next 100 years? Should we be concerned? These are some of the current major environmental concerns which we will discuss in class.

Course Goals

(1) Learn about the climate system from modern instrumentation and theory.
(2) Learn about Earth's past climates and the evolution of life, environment, and atmospheric composition as a context for understanding modern climate change.
(3) Learn the science necessary to understand modern environmental problems, especially from increasing greenhouse gases and ozone depleting chemicals. Empower students to participate in the debate over how to respond to global warming.


None. Open to all undergraduates. A working knowledge of high-school algebra and physical sciences will be useful; however, the basic tools used by scientists will be reviewed and practiced as they arise during the course.


"The Earth System" by Lee R. Kump, James F. Kasting, and Robert C. Crane, Prentice Hall, 2004.

Sign up for ATM S 211

Check the current University Time Schedule to see if ATM S 211 is being offered this quarter.