Office of Academic Affairs
Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Bhopal

Earth and Environmental Sciences

EES 404: Global Climate Change (3)

Prerequisites (Desirable): All EES 300 level courses

Learning Objectives:

This course provides an introduction to the science of climate change. The climate system evolves in time under the influence of its own internal dynamics and due to changes in external factors that are called forcings. The course is divided into four parts: (i) Understanding the drivers and factors shaping the Earth’s climate; (ii) Meteorological consequences of climate variability and change; (iii) human influence on climate variability and change; (iv) Global emission scenarios and climate change globally and regionally. Upon completion of this course, students will learn the different aspects of the science of climate change as well as specific regional issues of climate change with reference to South Asia.

Course Contents:

Introduction to Climate Change Science:
Climate system and its key elements – Geosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere; Key concepts in climate science; Indicators of climate change (global and regional surface temperature, sea-level, ocean acidification, ice-sheets and glaciers, greenhouse gas concentrations, extreme events); Drivers of climate change; Observations.

The Earth’s Changing Climate:
Forcing: Natural - Variation in Earth’s orbit; Variation in solar output; Climate change due to atmospheric constituents (volcanic eruptions, mineral dust); Anthropogenic - Increase in greenhouse gases, aerosols; Land use change.
Feedback mechanisms in the climate systems: Air-sea interactions, cloud-albedo, carbon cycle and accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere; Description of various effects of atmospheric greenhouse gas accumulation in the climate system; Aerosols (direct, semi-direct, and indirect effects).
Millennium scale climate change and variability: Proxies and archives, reconstruction from tree rings, lake sediments and speleothems; Concept of Medieval Warming Period and the Little Ice Age, droughts and mega-droughts, PAGES2K temperature reconstructions (global).

Radiative Forcing and Budget:
Concept of Radiative forcing (RF), natural (solar irradiance, volcanic) and anthropogenic (green house gases, ozone and stratospheric water vapor, aerosols and cloud effects, land surface change) RF; Time evolution of RF; Uncertainty associated with RF; Future RFs.

Climate Model Chain and Evaluations:
Earth system models, atmospheric general circulation model, regional climate models and their characteristics; Techniques (evaluation, multi-model ensemble) of assessing climate models; Regional climate downscaling skills and added value; Climate sensitivity and climate feedbacks.
Global Climate Change Projections:
Climate model ensembles and source of uncertainty from emission to projection, projected changes for next century (temperature and energy budget, water cycle, circulation, ocean, and cryosphere); Abrupt climate change.

Regional Climate Projections and Impacts:
Regional meteorology; Regional climate model high-resolution climate validation and projection for India; Regional projection focus on monsoon - ENSO, atmospheric circulation; Agriculture, water resources, energy, health; Climate extremes (frequency, occurrence, and intensity), sea level rise, glaciers.

Suggested Readings :

  1. Dessler, A., 2012, Introduction to Modern Climate Change, Cambridge University Press.
  2. Ruddiman, W. F., 2001, Earth's Climate: Past and Future, W. H. Freeman & Co Ltd.
  3. Pant, G. B., and Rupa Kumar, K., 1997, Climate of South Asia, Wiley.
  4. McGuffie, K., and Henderson-Sellers, A., 2014, The Climate Modelling Primer (4th Edition), Wiley.

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