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Syllabus: GEO 347D (27805) Global Warming

Professor Kerry H. Cook

Class: TTh 11-12:15 JGB 2.218

Teaching Assistants:
Mr. Gang Zhang,
Mr. Qinjian Jin,

Office hours:
Dr. Cook - Tuesday 9:30-10:30 or by appointment in JGB 5.220F; Please email any time
Mr. Zhang - Friday 3-4 PM in JGB5.202
Mr. Jin Tuesday 3-4 in JGB5.334

(1) Climate Dynamics, K. H. Cook, (except Ch. 6-8) with on-line support material at
(2) Reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, available online at

The purpose of the class is to study the science of global warming, including the physics of the
greenhouse effect and climate feedback systems.

There are no prerequisites other than upper-level standing.

Four in-class quizzes/tests; 30 min. 50% of the total grade
Tentative dates for quizzes: 23 Sept, 21 Oct, 11 Nov, and 4 Dec (last class)
Short report on global warming any topic of your choosing related to Global Warming.
20% of the total grade
Final exam. 30% of the total grade (Saturday, December 13, 9:00 noon)

Plus and minus grades will be used for final course grades. Grade boundaries will be determined
at the discretion of the instructor to ensure consistency with prior years; in prior years the A/B
boundary has typically been in the upper 80s.
This course carries the Quantitative Reasoning flag. Quantitative Reasoning courses are designed
to equip you with skills that are necessary for understanding the types of quantitative arguments
you will regularly encounter in your adult and professional life. You should therefore expect a
substantial portion of your grade to come from your use of quantitative skills to analyze real-
world problems.

I. Introduction
A. Overview of the Climate System (Chapter 1 in Climate Dynamics)
B. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

II. The Science of Global Warming
A. Background on Radiative Processes (Chapter 4)
B. Radiation: Fueling the Climate System (Chapter 4)
1. Incoming solar radiation
2. Outgoing terrestrial radiation
3. Greenhouse effect
4. Clouds and Radiation
C. The Flow of Energy through the Climate System (Chapter 5)
1. Top of atmosphere
2. Surface
3. Overview
D. Atmospheric Circulation Systems (Chapter 7)
1. The Hadley Circulation
2. Monsoons
3. Walker Circulations
4. Mid-latitude Circulation
E. Ocean Circulation Systems (Chapter 8)
1. The Wind-Driven Circulation: Surface currents
2. The Thermohaline Circulation
F. Climate Change Processes
1. Radiative Forcing (Chapter 10)
2. Climate Sensitivity (Chapter 11)
3. Climate Feedback Processes (Chapter 11)

III. Current Observations of Global Warming
A. Natural climate variability: Interannual to Millennial Time Scales
B. The Changing Chemical Composition of the Atmosphere (Chapter 10)
C. Temperature (means and extremes)
D. Precipitation (means and extremes)
E. Sea level
F. Circulation (atmosphere and oceans)
G. High latitude ice: Arctic, Greenland, Antarctic

IV. Predictions of Global Warming
A. Climate Models (Chapter 12)
1. Paleoclimate analogs
2. Simple climate models
3. Description of global models: GCMs and ESMs
4. Description of regional models
5. Simulation design
B. Global Warming Prediction
1. Emissions scenarios
2. Projections
a. Global
b. High latitudes
c. Sea level rise
d. Central Texas
C. Evaluating confidence in predictions

V. Impacts and Implications of Global Warming: Guest lectures and student projects