METR 111 Global Warming: Causes and Consequences • 5 Cr.
Provides an overview of the earth's climate system, and discusses how dynamic changes in the climate have occurred in the past and are occurring now. Specific topics include global warming, ozone depletion, El Nino/La Nina, and the impacts of climate change on human society and the biosphere.
After completing this class, students should be able to:
- Diagram and explain the main elements of the earth's planetary energy balance, including feedback mechanisms involving the atmosphere, ocean, and land masses.
- Diagram and explain the planetary carbon cycle.
- Summarize the key elements of ocean-atmosphere interaction, including surface ocean circulation and deep ocean thermohaline ("conveyor belt") circulation.
- Define and describe the science of paleoclimatology, and list the research tools commonly used by paleoclimatologists.
- Explain the theories of naturally-forced long-term climate change that involve geochemical and earth-orbital variations.
- Identify and describe the major anthropogenic changes in the earth's climate since the start of the Industrial Revolution, including global warming, ozone depletion, and particulate pollution.
- List and explain the major sources of uncertainty in predictions of global warming.
- Enumerate potential impacts to human society and to the biosphere resulting from anticipated climate change over the next century.