AOSS 480 - Climate Change: The Move to Action
Section: 001
Term: WN 2009
Subject: Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences (AOSS)
Department: CoE Climate and Space
3 (Non-LSA credit).
Requirements & Distribution:
Advisory Prerequisites:
Senior or graduate standing, MATH 116.
This course counts toward the 60 credits of math/science required for a Bachelor of Science degree.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


Significant class time will be devoted to discussion of integrating themes and concepts. Projects will be defmed after, approximately, Week 6, and students will be bringing project-related discoveries to class.

  • Week 1:
    Description of course arid course goals.
    Scientific investigation of climate - how is it done?
    What is climate variability?
    What are the fundamental balances of energy and how might these change?
    (Conservation principle,) What's the relation between weather and climate?
  • Week 2:
    What are the elements of the climate system?
    What are the roles of these elements?
    Where can we expect the unexpected?
    Incremental versus abrupt climate change,
  • Week 3:
    How is the climate variability measured?
    What are the sources of observations and how reliable are these observations?
    How do we build modern climate data records from weather data?
  • Week 4:
    What are the components of modern climate models?
    How well do these models represent the fundamental balances and the observed variability?
    Why are the model predictions controversial?
    What do the models tell us about the observations, and what do the observations tell us about the model?
    How do we determine cause and effect, the attribution of observed signals to specific mechanisms?
  • Week 5:
    Coherent and Convergent Evidence of Climate Change. What are the signals of climate change and how do these stack up against theory and predictions?
    Physical climate, ecosystems, coastal societies.
  • Week 6: Social and Ethical Considerations:
    What are the potential social issues and ethical ramifications for mitigation and adaptation associated, primarily, with changes in energy sources, production, and use?
    Climate change in wealthy countries versus not so wealthy countries.
  • Week 7: Global International Policy Response:
    What are the strategy, role, impact and future direction of Global and International Multi/Bi/Unilateral and Sectoral Climate Regimes?
    How does the United States play in the international arena?
  • Week 8: Sub-National Policy Response:
    What are the strategy, role and impact of, Sub- National Climate Regimes?
    Are bottom-up approaches more promising than top-down?
    What are US. states and communities doing?
    Will it impact federal policy?
  • Week 9: Impact of Climate Change on Public Health:
    Are their health risks (advantages) associated with climate change?
    Emerging diseases. Heat waves. Air quality and climate change.
  • Week 10: Private Sector Perception and Response:
    What issues are seen by the business community?
    How does this change from sector to sector?
    What is the role of liability risk?
    Business and policy: the need for national policy. Opportunity, competitiveness, risk.
  • Week 11: Economics, Markets, and Trading:
    How is the value of the climate integrated into our economies?
    Carbon market and carbon trading, is this the strategy for controlling emissions through cost?
    What is the role of taxes and incentives?
  • Week 12-13: Adapting to Climate Change:
    Vulnerability, resilience and adaptive capacity. When do societies adapt to climate change?
    Who pays?
    What is the best scale for measuring, implementing and monitoring adaptation options?
    Who gains, who loses? What are the strategies for integrating and mainstreaming climate change into the fabric and practices of society (planning, management and policy making)?
    What is the role of geo-engineering?
    Finally, how does the prospect of abrupt climate change influence these questions?
  • Week 14: Project presentations.

Readings are drawn from journal articles and reports, e.g. National Academy of Sciences, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, etc. Since public opinion and news are important to societies response to climate change, RSS feeds are used to update course discussions.


  • Regular homework
  • Projects and project presentations

AOSS 480 - Climate Change: The Move to Action
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
TuTh 9:30AM - 11:00AM
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