From Meteorology to Mitigation: Understanding Global Warming



About Lesson 4

We have now seen evidence indicating that the globe is warming, and that there is an array of other internally-consistent changes in the climate system that are associated with that warming. While these changes are suggestive of human-caused climate change, the existence of trends cannot alone be used to draw causal inferences.

That is where theoretical climate models come in. Climate models allow us to test particular hypotheses about climate change. For example, we can interrogate the models with respect to how much warming of the globe we might expect for a given change in greenhouse gas concentrations. In this lesson, we will consider the simpler classes of climate models, and we will engage in hands-on climate modeling activities.

What will we learn in Lesson 4?

By the end of Lesson 4, you should be able to:

  • describe the factors that govern Earth's climate system;
  • perform basic energy balance computations to estimate the surface temperature of the Earth;
  • perform basic energy balance computations to estimate the response of Earth's surface temperature to hypothetical changes in natural and anthropogenic forcing; and
  • explain what "equilibrium climate sensitivity" is.

What will be due for Lesson 4?

Please refer to the Syllabus for specific time frames and due dates.

The following is an overview of the required activities for Lesson 4. Detailed directions and submission instructions are located within this lesson.

  • Problem Set #3: Estimate the warming due to an increase in CO2
  • Read: Dire Predictions, v.2: p. 68-69


If you have any questions, please post them to our Questions? discussion forum (not e-mail), located under the Home tab in Canvas. The instructor will check that discussion forum daily to respond. Also, please feel free to post your own responses if you can help with any of the posted questions.