We need to understand the science behind global warming to avoid the most damaging and irreversible climate change impacts on people and planet.
About this course
Climate change is arguably the greatest challenge of our time. Human activity has already warmed the planet by one degree Celsius relative to pre-industrial times, and we are feeling the effects through record heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and flooding. If we continue to burn fossil fuels at the current rate, the planet will reach two degrees of warming by 2050 - the threshold that many scientists have identified as a dangerous tipping point. What is the science behind these projections?
Join climate scientist expert Michael Mann to learn about the basic scientific principles behind climate change and global warming. We need to understand the science in order to solve the broader environmental, societal and economic changes that climate change is bringing.
By the end of this course, you will:
Develop a deep scientific understanding of HOW the climate system has been changing.
Articulate WHY the climate system is changing.
Understand the nature of these changes.
Develop a system thinking approach to analyzing the impacts of climate change on both natural and human systems.
The course covers the basic principles of atmospheric science, methods of climate data collection and tracking of greenhouse gas emissions. It introduces basic climate modeling and explores the impact of various greenhouse gas emissions scenarios. Finally, it outlines the impacts of climate change on environmental, social, economic and human systems, from coral reefs and sea-level rise to urban infrastructure. The course follows the general outline of the 5th Assessment Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
What you'll learn
Principles of atmospheric science
Climate data collection and interpretation
Zero-dimensional Energy Balance Models
One-dimensional Energy Balanced Models
General Circulation Models
Carbon emissions scenarios
Future climate change projections
Impacts on human systems
Emissions reduction pathways
Module 1: Introduction to Climate and Climate Change
What is climate change
What should we care about climate change?
Overview of the climate system: How is the climate system constructed?
Overview of the climate system: How do energy balances work?
Overview of the climate system: Global circulation systems
Other fundamental principles: Feedback mechanisms and the carbon cycle
Module 2: Observing and Measuring Anthropogenic Climate Change
Changes in atmospheric greenhouse gases
Modern surface temperature trends
Sea ice, glaciers, and global sea level
Paleoclimate evidence of climate change
Module 3: Modeling the Climate System: The Basics
Introduction to climate modeling
Expressing a zero-dimensional energy model as a linear equation
Estimating climate sensitivity
Module 4: Modeling the Climate System: Advanced
One-dimensional energy balance models
Case Study: Using a one-dimensional EBM to model the ice ages
General circulation models
Validating climate models
Detecting climate change
Interpreting climate sensitivity
Module 5: Carbon Emission Scenarios
Stabilizing CO2 concentrations
Module 6: Applying Climate Models: Projected Changes in the Climate System
Surface temperature projections
Projected changes in global precipitation and drought
Atmospheric and oceanic circulation changes
The melting cryosphere
Sea level rise projections
Tropical cyclone and hurricane projections
Extreme weather projections
Module 7: Climate Change Impacts: The Future for People and Planet
Carbon cycle feedbacks
Sea level rise and coastal impacts
Ecosystems and biodiversity
Shifting water and food resources
Human health impacts
Module 8: What Is Our Path Forward?
Geoengineering: A scientist’s perspective, Part 1
Geoengineering: A scientist’s perspective, Part 2
Emissions reductions: The only viable way forward
Conclusion: A path of hope
Length: 8 Weeks
Effort: 2–4 hours per week
Price: FREE; Add a Verified Certificate for $49 USD
Subject: Energy & Earth Sciences
Video Transcript: English