From Meteorology to Mitigation: Understanding Global Warming

METEO 469 Syllabus - Spring 2017


From Meteorology to Mitigation: Understanding Global Warming

This syllabus is divided into several sections. You can read it sequentially by scrolling down the length of the document or by clicking on any of the links below to "jump" to a specific section. It is essential that you read the entire document as well as the material covered in the COURSE ORIENTATION. Together these serve as our course "contract."


Brian Gaudet is the instructor for METEO 469 during Spring 2017.

  • E-mail: Please use Inbox tab in Canvas
  • Office: 622 Walker Building, Penn State University, University Park, PA 16802
  • Office Hours: by appointment

NOTE: I will respond to e-mail and discussion forums at least once a day during the work week (Monday through Friday). I will also try to log in occasionally on the weekends.

METEO 469 Course Schedule

imagePrintable Schedule

Below is a summary of the primary learning activities for this course and the associated time frames. This course consists of 12 lessons, each approximately 1 week in length. The orientation week preceding the official start of the course. Please refer to the Canvas Syllabus or Canvas Calendar for specific time frames and due dates.

Course Schedule
Before the first day of class Course Orientation

(1) Participate in PERSONAL INTRODUCTIONS discussion forum


(3) Take COURSE INFORMATION QUIZ (must score at least 7 out of 8)

Week 1 Lesson 1:
Introduction to Climate and Climate Change
Participate in GENERAL DISCUSSION OF METEO 469 discussion forum
Week 2 Lesson 2:
Climate Observations, Part 1


Week 3 Lesson 3:
Climate Observations, Part 2
(2) QUIZ 1
Week 4 Lesson 4:
Modeling of the Climate System
Week 5 Lesson 5:
Modeling of the Climate System (cont.); Comparing Models and Observations
Week 6 Lesson 6:
Carbon Emission Scenarios
(2) Participate in CARBON EMISSION SCENARIOS discussion forum
Week 7 Lesson 7:
Projected Climate Changes, Part 1
Week 8 Lesson 8:
Projected Climate Changes, Part 2
Participate in LESSON 8 discussion forum
Week 9 Spring Break  
Week 10 Lesson 9:
Climate Change Impacts
(2) QUIZ 3
Weeks 11 & 12 Lesson 10:
Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change
(2) Participate in IMPACTS, ADAPTATION AND "AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH" discussion forum
Weeks 13 & 14 Lesson 11:
(2) Participate in GEOENGINEERING discussion forum
Week 15 Lesson 12:
Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
(1) Participate in CLIMATE CHANGE VIDEOS discussion forum

Course Overview

Description: Introduction to global warming and climate change, covering the basic science, projected impacts, and approaches to mitigation.
Prerequisites: MATH 110

Human-caused climate change represents one of the great environmental challenges of our time. As it is inextricably linked with issues of energy policy, a familiarity with the fundamentals of climate change is critical for those looking to careers in the energy field. To appreciate the societal, environmental, and economic implications of policies governing greenhouse gas emissions, one must understand the basic underlying science. METEO 469 serves to lay down the fundamental scientific principles behind climate change and global warming. A firm grounding in the science is then used as a launching point for exploring issues involving climate change impacts and mitigation. METEO 469 will introduce you to the basic information necessary for understanding Earth's climate, including the relevant atmospheric processes, and aspects of other key components of the climate system such as the cryosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere. You will learn how to do basic computations and to use theoretical models of the climate system of varying complexity to address questions regarding future climate change. You will explore the impacts of various alternative greenhouse gas emissions scenarios and investigate policies that would allow for appropriate stabilization of future greenhouse gas concentrations. The structure of the course roughly parallels the treatment of the subject matter by the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), focusing first on the basic science, then on the future projections and their potential impacts, and, finally, on issues involving adaptation, vulnerability, and mitigation. METEO 469 will combine digital video, audio, simulation models, virtual field trips to online data resources, text, and interactive quizzes that provide instantaneous feedback.

What We Expect of You

On average, most students will need to spend eight to ten hours per week working on course assignments. Your workload may be more or less, depending on your prior experience with computing and the Web.

We have worked hard to make this the most effective and convenient educational experience possible. The Internet may still be a novel learning environment for you, but, in one sense, it is no different than a traditional college class: how much and how well you learn is ultimately up to you. You will succeed if you are diligent about keeping up with the class schedule, and if you take advantage of opportunities to communicate with your instructor, as well as with your fellow students.

Specific learning objectives for each lesson and project are detailed within each lesson.

Required Course Materials

  • Mann, Michael E., and Lee R. Kump. 2015. Dire Predictions, 2nd edition: Understanding Climate Change; The Visual Guide to the Findings of the IPCC (ISBN-13: 978-1465433640).

You may purchase the text through your favorite local or online bookseller.

All additional materials needed for this course are presented online through this COURSE WEBSITE and in CANVAS. In order to access all materials, you need to have an active Penn State Access Account user ID and password (used to access the online course resources). If you have any questions about obtaining or activating your Penn State Access Account, please contact the Outreach Helpdesk.

Penn State honors and values the socioeconomic diversity of our students. If you require assistance with the costs of textbooks for this course, contact the Office of Student and Family Services (120 Boucke Building, 863-4926, For additional need related to socioeconomic status please visit

Assignments and Grading

This course will rely upon a variety of methods to assess and evaluate student learning:

Automated online quizzes (3 @ 50 points each) 150 points
Discussion participation (6 @ 25 points each) 150 points
Problem sets (4 @ 50 points each) 200 points
Unit projects (3 @ 100 points each) 300 points
Final exam 200 points
TOTAL 1,000 points

Final overall grades will be determined based on averaged grades of these elements. So that you know where you stand, all grades will be posted in Canvas with each assignment. You will be able to track your progress and calculate your average as the course goes along.

Letter grades will be based on the following percentages:

A 93-100%
A- 90-92.9%
B+ 87-89.9%
B 83-86.9%
B- 80-82.9%
C+ 77-79.9%
C 70-76.9%
D 60-69.9%
F <60%
X Unsatisfactory (student did not participate)

Percentages refer to the proportion of all possible points earned by the student.


Please put your best effort into all of the assignments as you complete them. Grades will not be curved during or at the end of the semester.

Course Policies

Late Policy

All course-related assignments, quizzes, and exams must be completed by the assigned date. Five percent (5%) of your grade for a course assignment will be subtracted for each day late. Late completions must be by prior arrangement.

Citation and Reference Style

You are expected to use a standard scientific format for references (i.e., similar to what you would find in leading journals such as Nature or Science).

Technical Requirements

For this course, we recommend the minimum technical requirements outlined on the World Campus Technical Requirements page, including the requirements listed for same-time, synchronous communications. If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the Outreach Helpdesk (for World Campus students) or the IT Service Desk (for students at all other campus locations).

Internet Connection

Access to a reliable broadband Internet connection is required for this course. A problem with your Internet access may not be used as an excuse for late, missing, or incomplete coursework. If you experience problems with your Internet connection while working on this course, it is your responsibility to find an alternative Internet access point, such as a public library or wireless hotspot.

Mixed Content

This site is considered a secure website, which means that your connection is encrypted. We do, however, link to content that isn't necessarily encrypted. This is called mixed content. By default, mixed content is blocked in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome. This may result in a blank page or a message saying that only secure content is displayed. Follow the directions on our technical requirements page of the course orientation to view the mixed content.


This course must be viewed using one of the following browsers: Firefox (any version), Safari (versions 5.1 or 6.0), Chrome (0.3 or later), or Internet Explorer with the MathPlayer PlugIn. If you use any other browser, there will be pages containing equations that do not render properly. If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the Outreach Helpdesk (for World Campus students) or the IT Service Desk (for students at all other campus locations).

Penn State E-mail Accounts

All official communications from the Penn State World Campus are sent to students' Penn State e-mail accounts. Be sure to check your Penn State account regularly, or forward your Penn State e-mail to your preferred e-mail account, so you don't miss any important information.

Academic Integrity

This course follows the guidelines for academic integrity of Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Penn State defines academic integrity as "the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner." Academic integrity includes "a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception." In particular, the University defines plagiarism as "the fabrication of information and citations; submitting others' work from professional journals, books, articles, and papers; submission of other students' papers, lab results or project reports and representing the work as one's own." Penalties for violations of academic integrity may include course failure. To learn more, see Penn State's "Plagiarism Tutorial for Students."

Course Copyright

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor’s express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy for the Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources (SDR) website provides contact information for every Penn State campus: Contacts for Disability Services at all Penn State Campuses. For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources (SDR) website.

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Mental Health Services

Whether you study on campus or online, mental health services are available to help you maintain your academic success. Penn State provides resources to address concerns including anxiety, depression, relationship difficulties, and stress, and provides mental health advocates who can help you. If you are a resident student, resources can be found at Counseling and Psychological Services. If you are a World Campus student, please see the student website for further information. If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis situation, please call your local emergency service.

Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

Inclement Weather

In case of weather-related delays at the University, this online course will proceed as planned. Your instructor will inform you if there are any extenuating circumstances regarding content or activity due dates in the course due to weather delays. If you are affected by a weather-related emergency, please contact your instructor at the earliest possible time to make special arrangements.

Connect Online with Caution

Penn State is committed to educational access for all. Our students come from all walks of life and have diverse life experiences. As with any other online community, the lack of physical interaction in an online classroom can create a false sense of anonymity and security. While one can make new friends online, digital relationships can also be misleading. Good judgment and decision making are critical when choosing to disclose personal information with others whom you do not know.


This course will be conducted entirely online. There will be no set class meeting times, but you will be required to complete assignments with specific due dates. Many of the assignments are open for multiple days. It is your responsibility to complete the work on time, which may require you to complete the work early if you plan to travel or participate in national holidays, religious observances, or University-approved activities.

If you need to request an exception due to a personal or medical emergency, contact the instructor directly as soon as you are able. The instructor's ability to accommodate you is dependent on the earliest possible notification. Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.


Please note that the specifics of this Course Syllabus can be changed at any time, and you will be responsible for abiding by any such changes. All changes will be communicated with you via e-mail, course announcement and/or course discussion forum.