Schedule of Lecture Topics for Spring 2010

Last updated on 12/10/10 01:10 PM  by Timothy Shanahan

Required Textbook.

Reference Books:

  • J.E. Oliver and J.J. Hidore, 2002. Climatology, An Atmospheric Science, Second Edition, Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-092205-6

  • L.R. Kump, J.F. Kasting, R.G. Crane, 2004. The Earth System, Second Edition, Pearson Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-142059-3

  • F.T. Mackenzie, 2003. Our Changing Planet, An Introduction to Earth System Science and Global Environmental Change, 3rd Edition, Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-065172-9

  • C. Donald Ahrens, 2003. Meteorology Today, An Introduction to Weather, Climate, and the Environment, Seventh Edition, Thomson Brooks/Cole, ISBN 0 534 39771 9

Other Readings:

  • G. W. Bomar, 1983. Texas Weather. Univ of Texas Press, QC984.T4B67 1983 (GEOL). ISBN 0-292-78052-4

  • J. Norwine, J.R. Giardino, G.R. North, J.B. Valdes (Eds.), 1995. The Changing Climate of Texas: Predictability and Impactions for the Future. Texas A&M Univ., QC 984 T4 N6 1995 (GEOL). ISBN 0-9645710-0-5.

    LQECLate Quaternary Environmental Change: Physical and Human Perspectives.  Martin Bell and MJC Walker, 1992, Longman.

    BDSmithThe Emergence of Agriculture.  Bruce D. Smith, 1998, Scientific American Library.

    FloodsFloods, Famines, and Emperors.  Brian M. Fagan, 1999, Basic Books.

    OriginsThe Origins of Pottery and Agriculture.  Y. Yasuda (ed.), 2002, Roli Books.

Chapters used here refer to the Ruddiman book. Please read the specific chapters before class and print out the lecture notes (if available) before class. Note that the topic outlines and dates are TENTATIVE, so please check this page often.


Section and Chapters
1 Introduction Part I

Weather and climate

[Additional reading:

Ch. 1, p. 1-16, See Chapter-1 of the text
3 Radiation and the atmosphere

[Additional reading:

[See or EarthsClimate_Chapter2.pdf, p. 1-5]
4 Heat transfer and energy balance

[Additional reading:


[Ch. 1, p. 5; See EarthsClimate_Chapter2.pdf, p. 6-15]
5 and movie (clip) General circulation of the atmosphere

[Additional reading:

[see EarthsClimate_Chapter2.pdf, p. 15-22]

The hydrologic cycle

[Additional reading:


[see EarthsClimate_Chapter2.pdf, p. 10, 16-17, 21, 31-32, 34]

The Oceans (1): Surface Oceans

[Additional reading:

[EarthsClimate_Web_Chapter.pdf, p. 22-24]
8 The Oceans (2): Thermohaline circulation [EarthsClimate_Chapter2.pdf, p. 24-27]

Air-Sea Interactions (ENSO, NAO)

[Additional reading: El Nino-Southern Oscillation; El Nino, ENSO

Are we having a warm or a cold phase of ENSO? see Current Synopsis and Prediction: ]

[EarthsClimate_Chapter2.pdf, p. 22-27; Ch. 16, p. 299-302; Ch. 17, p. 321-324]

Sea Ice and Glacial Ice

[Additional reading:

Glaciers Moraine and Ice sheets

[EarthsClimate_Chapter2.pdf, p. 8, 27-30; Ch.  2, p. 21; Ch. 10, p. 176-177]


[Additional reading:

Biosphere Gaia Hypothesis from Wikipedia]

[EarthsClimate_Web_Chapter.pdf, p. 30-35]
12 Carbon Cycle

[Additional reading:

Carbon cycle from Wikipedia

USGCRP Global Carbon Cycle Science Plan and Strategic Research Questions

Modeling the effect of climate on ecosystems]

[EarthsClimate_Chapter2.pdf, p. 30-35; Ch. 3, 46-47; Ch. 3 (p. 53-58)]
13 Climate Modeling

[Additional reading:

Earth System Modeling Framework (  )

Can we trust what the models tell us and why?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change   AR4 Report  Summary for Policy Makers]

Ch. 2 (p. 31-39)
   Exam 1: covers Chapter 1, 2 and all class materials February 18  


Natural Recorders of Past Climate: Proxy Data

[Additional reading: what does a proxy mean in climate research, Geochronology, Radiometric dating, Ice Core Dating ]

Part I, Ch. 2 (p. 17-31)


Why Study the Past Climate? [See also palaeoclimate]

Lecture notes and a movie (The Climate Puzzle)


Oxygen Isotopes

[Additional reading: oxygen isotope data]

Appendix I: p. 360-361; Ch. 6.2, p. 100-101


Tectonic-scale Climate Change [Greenhouse/Ice House Earth; Plate Tectonics and Ice House Intervals; Tectonic-scale CO2 Fluctuations, The Cretaceous greenhouse climate, Global Cooling Trend in the Last 50 Myr]

[Additional reading: 

[Color-coded page numbers correspond to the topics on the left.]  Ch. 4, 64-67,  71-80, Ch. 5, p. 81-86;

18 Orbital variations and their impacts on insolation received on Earth

[Additional reading: 

Part III, p. 116-117; Chapter 7 (p. 119-136) and Chapter 8 (137-153)
19 Orbital changes in ice sheets [Milankovitch cycles or Check it here] Chapter 9 (p. 163-174, Ch. 12 (p 210-228)
20 Ice core records: CO2, CH4, dust, carbon isotopes and orbital changes in deep water Chapter 10 (p. 175-190); Appendix II: p363-364
21 Orbital-scale interactions, feedbacks, and unsolved problems

[Additional reading: glaciation, Timeline of glaciation, Pleistocene, Eemian Interglacial]

Chapter 11 (p. 191-205)
22 Survey of the last glacial maximum Part IV, p. 205-206; Chapter 12 (p. 209-224)
23 (7 April) The last deglaciation and climate changes in the last 7000 years Ch. 13 (p229-249)
24 Millennial changes: δ18O in ice sheets

[Additional reading: GRIP, GISP2]

Chapter 14 (p. 251-261)
  Exam 2, April 1, covers Chapters 2-12, see review questions, notes of lectures and labs  
25 Historical climate: Medieval climate optimum, Little Ice Age, Maunder Minimum, Year Without A Summer Part V, p. 270-271; Chapter 16 (p. 287-308)
26 climate impact of volcano and sunspots Chapter 16 (p. 303-306)
27 Historical climate: instrument records

[additional reading:

Chapter 17 (p. 309-324)
28 Anthropogenic increase of greenhouse gases

[Additional reading:

CO2, CH4, N2O, Climate surprise, Enhanced "greenhouse" warming or global warming Effects of global warming]

Chapter 18 (p. 325-335)
29 The greenhouse debate: natural changes and CO2 sensitivity

[Additional reading: List of scientists opposing global warming consensus]

Chapter 18 (p. 325-335)
30 Supplementary (Geoengineering)   Chapter 18 (p. 325-335)
   Exam 3 (29 April) covers Chapters 13-18, and lecture notes  
31 (April 29) Group Poster Presentation I  
32 (May 2) Group Poster Presentation II  
33 (May 4) Group Poster Presentation III  
  Final Exam Wednesday 12 May, 2010 (7:00pm-10:00pm), JGB 2.216. Final exam is cumulative, so it covers Chapters 18-19, lecture notes, poster presentations, AND everything else taught in the semester.