Course Description

This is a course about how physical processes create global climate.  ``Dynamics'' implies forces and change, so most problems of interest are looking at a forcing (such as changing atmospheric composition) and trying to figure out what change it will cause, or looking at a known change (such as Cenozoic ice sheet volume changes) and trying to determine what caused them. 

Many interesting problems exceed the scope of instrumented climate data, so numerical models of varying dimension and complexity are the primary tool for figuring things out in climate dynamics.  Most of the reading for this course will be about climate modeling.  These will include descriptions of models, descriptions of model parameterizations, and examples of applying models of various types to climate problems.  We will also survey the techniques involved in climate modeling by building simple climate models and using a complicated one.  These three threads---problems, models, and techniques---will be intermingled throughout the course.  


Geog 657 Climate Dynamics

Spring 2011

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:00-12:15. Pearson Hall 216E (Mather conference room)

Office Hours

Text and readings: Mostly just recently published papers. Reading lists linked below as created

Projects: Model programming exercises, one longer project to build a zonal energy balance model from scratch, and an individualized experiment with a global atmospheric general circulation model (CAM3).

Test: one take-home essay exam

Course syllabus


Reading Lists (PDFs)

1. introduction and zonal models

2. atmospheric GCMs

3. ocean and coupled models

4. vegetation, land surface

5. modeling the greenhouse


  1. 1.two-box transient model

2. zonal energy balance model

3. general circulation model

Handouts, notes, models

Energy Balance Spreadsheet

Geog 605 Fortran Reference

Spectral model writeup

Spectral summary note

Lecture figures

Intro and zonal

Atmospheric GCM

Spectral truncation

Oceans, coupling

Land, vegetation

Greenhouse gases

Hanson Home Page