ATOC 1060-Our Changing Environment


Lecturer: De-Zheng Sun


TA: Anne Hickey; phone: 303 492 0488; email Office: ECNT 226 (Engineering Center, North Tower); Office hours:2 pm--4 pm Wednesdays. Jun Jian; phone: 303-735-2650; Office: D339, Duane Building. Office hours: 2pm-3pm.


Classroom: GB120, Duane Building.


Text Book: Climate Change, W. J. Burroughs, Cambridge Univ. Press, 2001, 298 pp


Reference Books:


  1. Climate Change 2001: The Science of Climate Change, Cambridge Univ. Press, 881 pp
  2. Balling R. C., 1992: The Heated Debate, Pacific Research For Public Policy, 195 pp



Goals Of The Course:


Global warming has been referred as a defining issue of the 21st century. This course is to help you to better understand the facts and logic behind the theory of global warming.  You will essentially have a guided tour of the climate system and the science of global climate change. By the end of the course, you will feel more informed and ready to participate in public discussions about major issues in the area of global climate change.




08/27; Lecture 1: Introduction, Weather, Climate, and the Climate System


08/29; Lecture 2: The Earth in the Solar System—Solar and Terrestrial Radiation

Reading Assignments: Chapter 2.1.1—2.1.3 of Burrough,


09/03; Lecture 3: The Earth in the Solar System—The Energy Balance Of Earth

Reading Assignments: Chapter 2.1.4—2.3 of Burrough; Chapter 1.1 of IPCC


09/05; Lecture 4: Elements of Climate—The Atmosphere

Reading Assignments: Chapter 3.1—3.4 of Burrough


09/10; Lecture 5: Elements of Climate—The Ocean

Reading Assignments: Chapter 3.1, 3.7, 3.8  of Burrough


09/12; Lecture 6: Elements of Climate—The Biosphere. Quiz #1.

Reading Assignments: Chapter 3.5 of Burrough


09/17; Lecture 7:  Review of  Radiation and Circulation (Dr. Christy Clark)


09/19; Lecture 8:  Review of  ENSO related subjects (Dr. Christy Clark)


09/24; Lecture 9: Cancelled


09/26; Evidence of Climate Change

Reading Assignments: Chapter 4.1—4.9 of Burrough


10/01;Lecture 11: Consequence of Climate Change

Reading Assignments: Chapter 5 of Burrough


10/03; Lecture 12: Causes of Climate Change-----Chaos, atmosphere-ocean interaction

Reading Assignments: Chapter 8.1--8.2 of Burrough


10/8; Lecture 13: Causes of Climate Change-----Volcanoes, orbital parameters, and human activities

Reading Assignments: Chapter 8.4, 8.6 of Burrough


10/10; Fall Break


10/15; Lecture 14: Mid-Term Exam


10/22; Lecture 15: Video: Our Ozone Layer--Its Science and Its Protection

Reading Assignments: Chapter 6.1—6.2 of Burrough


10/22; Lecture 16: Measuring Climate Change—Instrumental Observations

Reading Assignments: Chapter 6.1—6.2 of Burrough


10/29; Lecture 17: Measuring Climate Change—Proxy Measurements


10/31; Lecture 18: Some Statistical Considerations

Reading Assignments: Chapter 7 of Burrough


11/05;Lecture 19: Modeling the Climate----Successes and Chlallenges

Reading Assignments: Chapter 9.1—9.4 of Burrough; Chapter 8.3-8.4 of IPCC; Chapter3 of Balling, p33-38.


11/07; Lecture 21: Modeling the Climate----Validating and Understanding the GCMs.

Reading Assignments: Chapter 8 of IPCC, Chapter 3 of Balling, p38-46.


11/12; Lecture 22: Quiz #2


11/14; Lecture 23: Predicting Climate Change----Predicting ENSO —Climate and Weather Lab at CDC (Dr. Klaus Weickmann )

Reading Assignments: The web page of the Climate Diagnostics Center (



11/19; Lecture 24: Predicting Climate Change----Predicting Global Warming

Reading Assignments: Chapter 10.2 of Burrough


11/21; Lecture 25: Predicting Climate Change----Consequences of  Global Warming. Quiz #3

Reading Assignments: Chapter 10.3 of Burrough;  Chapter 9 of IPCC



11/26; Lecture 26: How to deal with the threat of global warming? A better science

Reading Assignments: Chapter 10.5 of Burrough; Chapter 11.9-11.10 of IPCC, Chapter 8 of Balling


11/28: Thanksgiving holiday


12/03; Lecture 27: How to deal with the threat of global warming? A more responsible policy.

Reading Assignments: Chapter 8 of Balling


12/05; Lecture 28: The Gaia Hypothesis. Quiz #3


12/10; Lecture 29: Tutoring--answer questions about Quiz #3 and class material in general


12/12; Lecture 30: Summary


12/13; Final Exam (1:30 pm--4:00 pm)




This is an introductory course for non-science majors. There is no prerequisite for this course. However, ATOC 1050 or an equivalent course will be helpful.



Class Format:


The students are expected to finish the reading assignments before each class. Reading outside the class assignments--some chapters in relevant books or newspaper articles--are encouraged. The class provides the forum for questions and discussions of the points and ideas the students come across in their readings.  The instructor will use the beginning part of each class to highlight the main points and ideas covered in the reading assignments.




There will be 3 quizzes and   two 1-hour long exams. The two exams are scheduled respectively at the mid-term and the end of the semester.  The final grade is based on the quizzes (30%), the mid-term exam (30%) and the final (40%). There are no make ups, no late exams, and no exceptions. If one cannot make the final,  he/she needs to drop the class.


Other information:


After-class questions are encouraged. They are expected to be first directed to the TA, Mr. Jun Jian.  The TA will be in touch with the instructor when he needs advice about the answers.