GEO 391 (Unique 27195)


(MWF 2:00-3:00)

Fall 2015

Goals: To provide an introduction to the role of land in weather and climate systems, and to transition the students from learning a course to doing a research project.

Topics: Basics of terrestrial surface energy, water and carbon balances. Micrometeorology and atmospheric boundary layer. Ecohydrology, biometeorology, hydrometeorology, and hydroclimatology. Theory, modeling, and observations. Spatial scales: point scale (meters) to global. Temporal scales: seconds to centuries.

At the end of the semester, the students are expected to be knowledgeable about the frontier research topics facing the scientific community and society, such as the global water/energy/carbon cycles, the relative contributions to climate change due to increases in greenhouse gases and changes in land use/land cover, the impacts of urbanization and deforestation on the atmosphere and climate, and the impacts of climate change on water resources, ecosystems, and the environment. Although the students are not required to run state-of-the-art land surface models, they will need to know how these models can be used to answer science questions, they will learn how to design numerical experiments, interpret  results from (say) the NCAR Community Land Model (Diagnostics), understand the sources of observations (e.g., flux tower measurements and satellite remote sensing), write scientific reports, and make scientific presentations.

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

Lectures: MWF, 2:00 3:00 pm; JGB Room 2.308

Tentative Schedules (to be refined during the course of the semester)

Week Monday Wednesday Friday Topics
1   August 26 (First class) Introduction August 28 History of Land Surface Studies;
Shuttleworth: Ch. 1 Hydrometeorology and the global water cycle; Bonan: Ch. 1-3: Intro., components of the Earth system, and global energy, hydrologic, and biogeochemical cycles
2 August 31: Sept 2 Sept 4: Quiz #1; Thermodynamics Shuttleworth: Ch. 2 Water vapor in the atmosphere, Ch. 3 Vertical gradients in the atmosphere, Ch. 10 Formation of clouds
3 Sept 7: Labor Day Holiday Sept 9: Sept 11: Bonan, Ch. 5 Atmospheric general circulation and climate; Ch. 6, Earth's climate; Ch. 7 Climate variability
Shuttleworth: Ch. 9 Global scale influences on hydrometeorology
4 Sept 14 Sept 16: Atmospheric Stability Sept 18 Problem Set #1 Due September 21 (see Assignments.htm)
5 Sept 21: Atmospheric Boundary Layer and Turbulence Sept 23 Sept 25: Turbulence Bonan, Ch. 13, 14, 15; ABL and surface energy balance,
Shuttleworth: Ch. 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 10, 11, 12
6 Sept 28: Quiz #2 Sept 30 Oct 2: Independent Study Bonan: Ch. 18: plant canopy, big leaf models,  z0, d, LAI;  LAI measurements (in situ method, satellite remote sensing)
Shuttleworth: Ch. 21, 22 Whole canopy interactions
7 Oct 5 Oct 7 Oct 9: Quiz #3; hydrology Bonan: Ch. 11, 12: water balance, watershed hydrology, and river routing
Shuttleworth: Ch. 1, 12, 13, 14, 23 The global water cycle, precipitation, evaporation; Problem Set #2 Due October 12 (see Assignments.htm)
8 Oct 12 "Impacts of soil classification on hydrology" Guest lecture by Dr. Hui Zheng Oct 14 "Soil moisture retrieval using data assimilation and land modeling" Guest lecture by Dr. Long Zhao Oct 16 "Soil moisture variability and drought monitoring" Guest lecture by Dr. Ying Sun Bonan: Ch. 9, soil physics: soil classifications and soil temperatures
Shuttleworth: Ch. 4, 6, 7 Surface energy fluxes
9 Oct 19:Soil map; 10-L Soil Model Oct 21 Oct 23: Quiz #4 Bonan: Ch. 9, 10: soil physics: soil moisture and soil biogeochemistry; Soil Physics Multi-State Research Project
Shuttleworth: Ch. 24 SVATs
10 Oct 26 Oct 28 Introduction to the Global Carbon Cycle: Guest Lecture by Professor Robert Dickinson Oct 30 Modeling the Carbon Cycle: Guest Lecture by Dr. Ying Sun Bonan: Ch. 16, 17, 18; Leaf energy fluxes and leaf photosynthesis (The classic Farquhar model; New applications: Bonan 1995, Bonan et al. 2011, Chen et al. 2011);
Shuttleworth: Ch. 21 Canopy processes and canopy resistances
Bonan: Ch. 19-24: ecosystems, vegetation dynamics, global biogeography; Ch. 29: Carbon cycle-climate fedbacks
Shuttleworth: Ch. 24: Soil Vegetation Atmosphere Transfer Schemes
Sun, Y., L. Gu, R.E. Dickinson, R. J. Norby, S. G. Pallardy, and F. M. Hoffman, 2014: Impact of mesophyll diffusion on estimated global land CO2 fertilization, PNAS.
11 Nov 2 (Term Paper Topic Due) Biomes, PFTs, and DGVMs Nov 4: LSMs Nov 6: Quiz #5 Bonan: Ch. 25, 27, 28, 29: Land-climate interactions
Shuttleworth: Ch. 25: Sensitivity to land surface exchanges
12 Nov 9: Land (Snow) Data Assimilation -- Guest lecture by Yongfei Zhang (paper) Nov 11: The Dust Cycle -- Guest lecture by Sagar Parajuli (paper) Nov 13: The water balance over the Mississippi River Basin and the CONUS -- Guest lecture by Xitian Cai (paper) Numerical modeling applications with the NCAR CLM
13 Nov 16: Subgrid scale variability of land surface features; scaling up and down (zooming in and out) Nov 18:  Urbanization; CLMU Nov 20: Accomplishments, Challenges, and Opportunities Bonan: Ch. 27, 30: Land use and land cover change, urbanization
Shuttleworth: Ch. 25C: The influence of imposed persistent changes in land cover
14 Nov 23: Quiz #6 Nov 25 Nov 27 Modeling discussions:

Bonan, G. B., and S. Levis (2010), Quantifying  carbon-nitrogen feedbacks in the Community Land Model (CLM4), Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L07401, doi:10.1029/2010GL042430.

Lawrence, D.M., K.W. Oleson, M.G. Flanner, P.E. Thornton, S.C. Swenson, P.J. Lawrence, X. Zeng, Z.-L. Yang, S. Levis, K. Sakaguchi, G.B. Bonan, and A. G. Slater, 2011: Parameterization improvements and functional and structural advances in version 4 of the Community Land Model, Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, [pdf]

Gent, P. R., G. Danabasoglu, L. Donner, M. M. Holland, E. C. Hunke, S. R. Jayne, D. M. Lawrence, R. B. Neale, P. J. Rasch, M. Vertenstein, P. H. Worley, Z.-L. Yang, and M. Zhang, 2011: The Community Climate System Model Version 4. J. Climate, 24, 4973-4991, doi: 10.1175/2011JCLI4083.1. [ ]

15 Nov 30: (Term Paper Due) Presentations Dec 2: Presentations; course evaluations Dec 4 (Last class) Presentations


Office Hours:

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

Required Textbook:

            Ecological Climatology: Concepts and Applications (Gordon Bonan, 2008, Second Edition, Cambridge University Press, pp. 550)

   Terrestrial Hydrometeorology (W. J. Shuttleworth, 2012, John Wiley & Sons., Ltd, pp. 448)

Assignments: click here


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 Monday, it will be due next Monday 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 and Basic Programming 30%
Bi-weekly 5-minute quiz  30%
Topic for term paper (Due November 3, 2014) [see Elements of Style  and A Guide to Write a Paper by G.H. Jirka (1992)] 20%
Presentation (Term paper due December 1, 2014) 20%


 Graduate students 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. The two files are: emergency preparedness and emergency terms. Note that the phone number for the Behavior Concerns Advice Line (BCAL) is 512-232-5050.  If you would like more information regarding emergency preparedness, visit

Major References:

Global Physical Climatology, D. L. Hartmann, 1994

Ecohydrology: Darwinian expression of vegetation form and function

, Peter S. Eagleson, 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.

An Introduction to Atmospheric Radiation, 2nd edition, K.N. Liou, 2002

A Climate Modeling Primer, 2nd edition, K. McGuffie and A. Henderson-Sellers, 1997

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

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

Computer Hotlists (Courtesy of Dr. Youming Tang

C, C++
Linux and Unix: