GEO 377P/387H


(MWF 11:00-12:00)

Fall 2014

Goals: To provide, from a global perspective,  an introduction to the physical interactions in the climate system that includes the atmosphere, the ocean, and the land surface. To discuss how the system responds to various forcing factors.

Topics: Basics of weather and climate and their mathematical equations. Radiation, Convection, Clouds, Precipitation, and General Circulation. Physical processes having an impact on precipitation and evapotranspiration at the earth's surface. Key global change issues explored using simple, web-based climate models.

Instructor: Dr. Zong-Liang Yang, Tel: 512-471-3824, Email:


MWF, 11:00 – 12:00

EPS Room 1.126


Office Hours:

Friday, 12:45-1:45 pm or by appointment, JGB Room 5.220DA


Required Textbook:

            Global Physical Climatology (Dennis L. Hartmann, Academic Press, pp. 411)



Basic calculus and physics (M308M and PHY 303K or equivalent courses) and an interest in interdisciplinary processes.

Grading Policy:

Generally, homework will be due one week from the date when it is given; if it is given on Friday, it will be due next Friday in the beginning of the class. Late homework will not be accepted without a pretty good reason. You are encouraged to work together on your homework if you wish, but make sure you understand what you write down. 

Pop-quizzes will be given at random times without prior notice, about every 2 weeks.  In these you will be given a question related to the subject matter and/or assigned reading materials to write about or a problem to solve, and about 5 minutes to do it. Please bring loose-leaf paper, a pencil, and a scientific calculator to every class.

There will be no mid-term test and final examination. Participation in class discussions, and raising good questions during lecture are strongly encouraged. Grades will be determined from the following formula:

Homework/Participation                                          30%

Bi-weekly 10-minute quiz                                         30%

Literature Review                                                    20%

Presentation                                                             20%

For undergraduate students, the emphasis is on the basic understanding of the materials and hands-on experience of the web-based climate models.

Graduate students, however, need to read and comment on cutting-edge research articles in the literature. In addition, graduate students are expected to demonstrate more skills in quantitative analysis and numerical modeling.

Final Letter Grades: The percent-letter grade relationship will usually be: >90 A, 80-89 B, 70-79 C, 60-69 D, and < 60 Ouch. Your attendance and extra credits will affect your final grades.

UT's Classroom Safety Procedure:

As we ready for the start of the semester, please read information on emergency evacuations and resources provided by Dr. Robert Harkins, the Associate Vice President for Campus Safety and Security. Two files: emergency preparedness and emergency terms. Note that the phone number for the Behavior Concerns Advice Line (BCAL: 512-232-5050).  If you would like more information regarding emergency preparedness, visit

Major References:

A Climate Modelling Primer, Third Edition, K. McGuffie and A. Henderson-Sellers, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., 2005.

Atmospheric Science: An Introductory Survey, Second Edition, J. M. Wallace and P. V. Hobbs, Academic Press, 2006.

Climatology, R. V. Rohli and A. J. Vega, Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2008.

Meteorology Today: An Introduction to Weather, Climate, and The Environment, Ninth Edition, C. D. Ahrens, Brooks/Cole, 2009.

El Niño, La Niña, and the Southern Oscillation, S. G. Philander, Academic Press, 1990.

Climate System Modeling, K. E. Trenberth, QC 981 C65 1992.

Physics of Climate, J. Peixoto, QC 981 P.434 1992.

Climate Change 2007: The  Physical Science Basis, Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, S. Solomon, D. Qin, M. Manning, M. Marquis, K. Averyt, M. M. B. Tignor, H. L. Miller, Jr., and Z. Chen, Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis, Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, J. T. Houghton, Y. Ding, D. J. Griggs, M. Noguer, P. J. van der Linden, X. Dai, K. Maskell, and C. A. Johnson, Cambridge University Press, 2001.

General Circulation Model Development: Past, Present and Future, Edited by D. A. Randall, Academic Press, 2000.

Climate Change: Developing Southern Hemisphere Perspectives, Edited by T. W. Giambelluca and A. Henderson-Sellers, John Wiley & Sons, 1996. QC 981.8 C5 C5147 1996.

An Introduction to Dynamic Meteorology, Third Edition, J. R. Holton, Academic Press, 1992.

Storm and Storm Dynamics, W. R. Cotton and R. A. Anthes, Academic Press, 1989.

Cloud Dynamics, R. A. Houze, Jr., Academic Press, 1993.

Mesoscale Meteorological Modeling, Second Edition, R. A. Pielke, Sr., Academic Press, 2002.

The Atmospheric Boundary Layer, J. R. Garratt, QC 880.4 B65 G37 1992.

Handbook of Hydrology, D. R. Maidment, GB 662.5 M35 1993.

Land Surface Evaporation: Measurement and Parameterization, T. J. Schmugge  and J.-C. Andre, QC 915.6 L36 1991.

Ecological Climatology: Concepts and Applications, Second Edition, Gordon B. Bonan, Cambridge University Press, pp. 678, 2008.