A fundamental question about the climate system is why its state is always changing, and yet has so far avoided a runaway instability that could destroy all life. It is also against this background that the importance of understanding human impact on the state of the climate system better emerges. With our industrial activity changing the chemical composition of the atmosphere, are we prodding a "lamb" who poses no harm, or a "beast" who may react to devour all of us?
This course attempts to shed some light on the above questions through guided reading and discussion of key papers in the area of climate dynamics, and through lectures by leading climate experts in the Boulder climate community. The course will cover the dynamics of major modes of variability in the climate system: the Madden-Julian Oscillation, the El Nino-Southern Oscillation, the North Atlantic Oscillation, the Antarctic Oscillation, and abrupt climate changes. The course will also include lectures on climate forcing and feedbacks, the water and energy cycle, and the weather and climate connections (e.g. how global warming affects the magnitude and frequency of occurrence of extreme weather events).
The lecturers will be asked to tailor their talks to fit the level of graduate students. Background material for each lecture will be recommended to the students in advance to aid the understanding of the lecture. Each lecture will be followed by half an hour discussion. By the end of the course, the students are expected to have a basic understanding of the causes of climate change and climate variability, and an appreciation of the delicate balance and complex interaction among the various forces that maintain the stability of the climate system.
Place: Duane E126, CU Campus