Syllabus: Climate Change 1: The Earth’s Climate System

Prof. Wolfgang H. Berger, Teaching Assistant: Patty Anderson

Confused about the global warming Debate? This is your chance to get the story straight from scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD. This introductory on-line course presents Earth’s climate system and explores the science and politics of global climate change. This 5 week course consists of 12 lessons. Course topics include the greenhouse effect, El Niño, ocean circulation, the science and politics of global warming and climate change impacts on California. All the reading, course material and assessments are on-line, there are no regularly scheduled class meetings: learn where and when you want! Included are printable lecture notes, engaging discussion groups, weekly group assignments and links to additional material. It is an introductory course; there are no prerequisites.

Our courses are self-written and all lecture notes and reading material are available on-line as html documents and printable pdf files. There is no other required text.

Method of Teaching:
This is an on-line course, all course materials are available on-line. Learning methods include printable lecture notes, asynchronous threaded discussions, weekly assignments, on-line short quizzes at the end of each chapter, and links to additional material.

Topical Outline:
The course is 5 weeks; we introduce 2-3 lessons per week for a total of 12 lessons. Each lesson requires about 2 hours to complete – including reading, a short assignment, discussion and a quiz.

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Upon completion of this course students should be able to describe how the Earth’s climate system works and summarize general atmosphere circulation patterns, ocean circulation patterns and climate oscillations such as the El-Niño Southern Oscillation. Students should be able to illustrate components of the Earth’s carbon cycle and quantitatively describe how addition of CO2 to the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels will influence the climate. Importantly, students will gain the scientific basis to analyze and critique policy issues related to global warming.