1. Knows the key variables, which play a role in current climate change.
2. Is acquainted with observations of global climate change including the importance of paleoclimate for current climate change.
3. Knows about couplings between changes in the climate system and feedbacks with the carbon cycle.
4. Is acquainted with climate models and their evaluation.
5. Knows about detection and attributing climate change.
6. Is acquainted with climate projections
In this course we will study the recently published UN-report on climate change. The goal is to get well-founded insight into current state-of-the-art in climate change research. Climate is of utmost importance: global warming after the last glacial maximum about 20.000 years ago created conditions that were very favorable to the development of humankind. Agriculture developed about 11.000 years ago and along with farming complex societies emerged that exhibit elaborated economies. These societies have been dependent on a stable and favorable climate and that has not changed yet. Today, humanity is on the verge of de-stabilizing the climate system. These changes may force the climate into a stage never experienced since the evolution of humanity. In order to better assess potential changes and dangers, and to give balanced, non-biased advice to policymakers, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been founded in 1988 by the United Nations together with the World Meteorological Organization. Every few years the IPCC publishes reports aiming at summarizing common-sense and state-of-the-art knowledge of the scientific community. The fourth assessment report (AR4) published in 2007 again caused a lot of controversy. Releases such as "The Great Global Warming Swindle" which was aired in March 2007 by British television Channel 4 reflect the controversy with which climate change is discussed. The high degree of controversy is natural because moving the global society towards more sustainability will require significant changes in the economical system, and change naturally implies that there are losers and winners.
In this course we will review the scientific evidence of human-caused climate change as contributed by IPCC Working Group I to the AR4. Studying the report chapter by chapter we will look at the key pieces of evidence and we will also discuss some of the most significant research articles. What are the major uncertainties in foreseeing futureclimates? We will also explore if all scientific evidence is incorporated into the report, or if some evidence has been left out ¿ if so, for what reason? Finally, we will discuss the scientific relevance of arguments that are repeatedly brought up in controversial releases. At the end of this course you will have a good understanding of the science of current climate change and the political/societal aspects of climate change research.
This course requires basic understanding of the earth¿s climate system, greenhouse effect, pollution and feed-back mechanisms to clouds, ice and the hydrological cycle.