Teaching & Outreach

EES 2096 Climate Change: Oceans To Atmosphere

Earth’s climate is an emergent feature of the flow of energy and matter between the land,
ocean, atmosphere, ice, and the biosphere. The decisions we make and the experiences we
have in our lifetime are all strongly shaped by the climate around us. Earth’s climate has
evolved naturally into a variety of states throughout geological time from ice ages to periods
over 50 million years ago much hotter than today. As humans evolved and began changing the
landscape and emitting greenhouse gases through industrial processes, the climate system has
been changing and Earth’s global temperature has risen at an unprecedented rate with stark
consequences for living organisms and society. During the semester we will study the major
controls on our climate from regional to the global scale, evidence and cause of shifts in Earth’s
climate through geological history, the role of greenhouse gas emissions in altering our present
climate state, evidence of climate change since the industrial era, and projections of future
climate throughout the 21st century. We will study the circulation and properties of both the
atmosphere and ocean that control the flow of energy and matter in the climate system,
producing the climate state and weather patterns we experience.

EES 3506 / 5506 Observing and Modeling Climate Change

There is no scientific doubt that human activity has been influencing the climate system
since the industrial era due to emissions of greenhouse gases and causing a rise in
global mean temperature (i.e., global warming). While Earth’s climate and temperature
has fluctuated naturally in the past, the rate of current warming in response to human
activity is unprecedented and is having a large impact on the climate system and living
organisms on our planet. We are experiencing the effects of climate change today in the
form of melting of sea ice, glaciers, and ice sheets, sea level rise, increases in the
intensity of heat waves, change in frequency and intensity of droughts, extreme rainfall
events, and wildfires. The results of climate model simulations suggest that the effects
of climate change will worsen throughout the 21st century and beyond if we continue to
emit greenhouse gases. In this course we will gain a foundational understanding of
anthropogenic climate change and explore the evidence directly through hands-on
analysis and visualization of real-world observational datasets. After investigating
observational evidence, we will build an understanding of climate models, the
experiments performed including climate projections, and how to access, analyze, and
visualize publicly available model output. Along the way, students will gain experience in
the tools that scientists use to analyze and visualize observational datasets and climate
model output. While no prior computational knowledge is assumed, students will be
introduced to aspects of the Python programming language, the command line
interface, and GitHub. Course content and assignments will be centered around the use
of Jupyter Notebooks. This course will be hands-on and assignment and project
oriented, with in-class periods geared toward learning to analyze and visualize climate