Climate Change

Module summary

Module code: ENVI0449
Level: 6
Credits: 15
School: Engineering and Science
Department: Natural Resources Institute
Module Coordinator(s): Bruce Haggart



There is increasing public concern about the impact of human activities on the global environment and apprehension about its sustainable future. Understanding human-induced climate change (and its likely consequences for future life on Earth) is one of the greatest modern scientific challenges. However, climate has been changing throughout geological history. Investigating patterns and processes of past climate change and appreciation of the linkages and feedbacks in the natural climate system are prerequisites to our understanding of likely future human-induced changes. This module examines scientific issues at the leading edge of this fast-developing field of study, encompassing the full range of Earth history from the early Precambrian to the present day. Importantly, the module also covers modelling and prediction of future climate change.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:
1. Demonstrate a critical awareness of the main components of the Earth's climate system and how they interact
2. Critically evaluate the evidence for the Earth's past and present climate and show critical awareness of the uncertainties about attributing causes.
3. Demonstrate a critical understanding of anthropogenic impact on climate, its measurement and attribution.
4. Critically evaluate the predictions of future climate change prediction and their associated impacts.

Indicative content

Overview of causes of climate change. Natural variability at global and regional scales. Palaeoclimates, palaeoatmospheres and palaeoceanography from the Precambrian to the Quaternary including Precambrian climate change and the Snowball Earth Theory. Palaeozoic and Mesozoic climate change. The evolution of the atmosphere. Tertiary climate change: from greenhouse to icehouse. Quaternary climate change. Understanding the present climate system, its components and their interactions. Climate change since the beginning of instrumental measurement. Climate modelling and prediction of future climate change and their impacts.