ENV-MA51 - Climate Change: Physical Science Basis
The information provided here is being updated for 2013-2014.
Check back at the start of term for final schedule.
ENV-MA51 is co-taught with ENV-3A51. Most of the information provided here
applies to both modules, though there are some differences in the coursework section.
Items such as lecture slides, lecture notes and copies of published scientific papers that some lecturers may make available are placed on the UEA Blackboard website for access restricted to current students only. The UEA Blackboard website is accessible through the UEA Portal using your UEA username and password. If you are enrolled on this module, you will automatically have access to it under the "Academic" tab of the Portal.
You are expected to regularly check this webpage and your UEA email for information, including notification of changes in room location, lecture times, etc.
Climate change and variability has played a major role in shaping human history and the prospect of a warming world as a result of human activities (global warming) presents society with an increasing challenge over the coming decades.
This module covers the science of climate change and our current understanding of anthropogenic effects on climate. It provides details about the approaches, methods and techniques for understanding the history of climate change and for developing climate projections for the next 100 years, supporting further study of the scientific or policy aspects of the subject in either an academic or applied context.
The module consists mostly of lectures, together with some seminars presented by staff and students. It is co-taught with ENV-3A51, which can only be taken by 3rd-year students of the Integrated Masters in Climate Science.
There are no formal pre-requisites for this module, though students are expected to have the general mathematical and scientific backgrounds needed for university-level study.
This 20-credit module takes place during all twelve weeks of Semester I.
There are two pieces of coursework. There is no exam for this module.
For ENV-MA51, both pieces of coursework will be graded, each accounting for 50% of the module assessment.
For ENV-3A51, the first piece of coursework (CW#1) will not be graded but feedback will be provided. The second piece of coursework (CW#2) will be graded, accounting for 100% of the module assessment.
- CW#1: The first piece of coursework, a critical assessment of scientific
knowledge in a contested area (e.g., critiques of papers giving opposing views on the same issue),
will be set in Week 2 and is due for submission in Week 6 of Semester I. There will be an opportunity to debate
opposing issues during class.
- CW#2: The second piece of coursework, a detailed report including reference to relevant literature on a selected topic (which may also be your dissertation topic), will be set in Week 2 and submission is due in Week 12 of Semester I.
The marking criteria for both pieces of coursework are the ENV marking criteria for essay-type answers. These are available in the overall ENV Marking Guidelines. Note that these are not the same as the UEA marking criteria.
Further details of the coursework will available as the work is set, so you must attend those classes when it is set, or contact the person setting it (see schedule below) if you are unable to attend those classes.
This module is in timetable slots CL and DL throughout Semester I (Autumn), Weeks 1-12.
A small amount of preparatory reading will be set each week and should be read prior to the lectures for that week. This reading material will be given to you electronically via the UEA Portal/Blackboard site for this module.
|1||Tue Sep 24||9-11||SCI 3.05||The instrumental climate record #1||PJ|
|Wed Sep 25||9-11||SCI 3.05||The instrumental climate record #2||PJ|
|2||Tue Oct 1||9-11||SCI 3.05||Introduction to the module & the climate system||TO|
|Wed Oct 2||9-11||SCI 3.05||Setting & discussion of Coursework 1 and 2||TO|
|3||Tue Oct 8||9-11||SCI 3.05||Natural causes of climate change||TO|
|Wed Oct 9||9-11||SCI 3.05||Anthropogenic causes of climate change||TO|
|4||Tue Oct 15||9-11||SCI 3.05||Palaeoclimate reconstructions #1||PJ|
|Wed Oct 16||9-11||SCI 3.05||Palaeoclimate reconstructions #2||PJ|
|5||Tue Oct 22||9-11||SCI 3.05||The oceans in the climate system & future changes to the thermohaline circulation||TO|
|Wed Oct 23||9-11||SCI 3.05||New findings from the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report
Recap, questions & discussion
|6||Tue Oct 29||9-11||SCI 3.05||Presentation & discussion of Coursework 1
(statements 4 & 6)
|TO, PJ, MJ|
|Wed Oct 30||9-11||SCI 3.05||Presentation & discussion of Coursework 1
(statements 1 & 2)
|Thu Oct 31||Coursework 1 to be handed in||7||Tue Nov 5||9-11||SCI 3.05||Constructing policy-relevant projections of climate change #1||TO|
|Wed Nov 6||9-11||SCI 3.05||Constructing policy-relevant projections of climate change #2||TO|
|8||Tue Nov 12||9-11||SCI 3.05||The El Nino Southern Oscillation & tropical variability||MJ|
|Wed Nov 13||9-11||SCI 3.05||Climate modelling #1||MJ|
|9||Tue Nov 19||9-11||SCI 3.05||Climate modelling #2||MJ|
|Wed Nov 20||9-11||SCI 3.05||The North Atlantic Oscillation & extra-tropical variability||MJ|
|10||Tue Nov 26||9-11||SCI 3.05||Past & future changes in weather/climate extremes||CG|
|Wed Nov 27||9-11||SCI 3.05||Development of UK climate scenarios||PJ|
|11||Tue Dec 3||9-11||SCI 3.05||Detection & attribution of climate change #1||MJ|
|Wed Dec 4||9-11||SCI 3.05||Detection & attribution of climate change #2||MJ|
|12||Tue Dec 10||9-11||SCI 3.05||Free time for essay preparation|
|Wed Dec 11||9-11||SCI 3.05||Applications of scenarios: the water industry||GD|
|Mon Dec 16||Coursework 2 to be handed in (note this is the first Monday of the Christmas vacation)|
After completing this module, ENV-MA51 and ENV-3A51 students should be able to:
- Identify and distinguish natural and anthropogenic causes of climate change, and understand the mechanisms through which they operate.
- Evaluate the knowledge that can be gained from observations and models of the climate system, and their inherent limitations and errors.
- Critically assess published scientific research that is relevant to the anthropogenic climate change issue, including contested topics within this field.
Starting with an introduction to the changing climate, techniques and approaches, and the main themes in current climate research, the module is structured around three topics:
- fundamentals of the changing climate: techniques and approaches, including the Earth's energy balance, causes of climate change and the greenhouse effect;
- research methods, consisting of empirical approaches to climate reconstruction (such as tree-ring analysis), assembly of observational data (focusing on the global temperature record) and data analysis (causes of recent climate change) and theoretical or model-based approaches (including an introduction to energy balance models and general circulation models);
- the history of climate change and potential causal mechanisms, concentrating on the period from 1000 AD to the present and climate projections out to 2100 AD.
There is no single book that covers all aspects of the module and you will be directed to specific sources for further reading by lecturers for each major topic. Most recommended reading is available in the Climatic Research Unit library or the main UEA library. Guidance will also be given by the module convenor at the start of the module. In addition, a small amount of preparatory reading will be set (and provided to you electronically) each week and should be read prior to the lectures for that week.
The Open University / Warr (2006) book listed below is the best single purchase if students wish to buy a text book for this course. It is up-to-date and clearly written. It is an excellent introduction to almost all of the topics covered in this module, though you will undoubtedly want to go beyond the level of this book (which was developed primarily for undergraduates rather than MSc students) in certain topics that particularly interest you. For reading and learning at a higher level (e.g., with more quantitative detail than given by the OU / Warr (2006) book) you should refer to the reading given by individual lecturers, or to the Harvey (2000) book also listed below.
Open University Course Team (2006) Climate change: topic 5.
Open University Worldwide, 240pp, ISBN 0749214376.
- Note that the author may be listed as either "Open University Course Team", "OU Course Team", or "Warr K" (because Warr led the course team for this book).
- Copies of this book have been ordered into Waterstones on the UEA campus. Alternatively, you can buy a copy direct from the Open University Website. There are also two copies in the Climatic Research Unit library (they must NOT be taken out of the library, they are for reference use in the library only) and further copies in the main UEA library.
- Harvey LDD (2000) Global warming: the hard science. Pearson Education, Harlow, UK, 336pp, ISBN 0582381673.
Many lectures will also use material from reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), particularly the Working Group I contributions to the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4, 2007) and the newly released Fifth Assessment Report (AR5, 2013). Copies of AR4 are available for reference in the Climatic Research Unit library and can be freely downloaded from http://www.ipcc.ch. For Working Group I contribution to AR5, the approved Summary for Policy Makers and the final (uncorrected) draft of the main report will be available from www.climatechange2013.org.
Other good text books include:
- World Meteorological Organisation (2003) Climate into the 21st Century. Cambridge University Press.
- Burroughs WJ (2001) Climate change: a multidisciplinary approach. Cambridge University Press.
- Kemp D (2002) Global environmental issues. Routledge.
- Houghton J (2004) Global warming. Cambridge University Press.