96020 - The Earth Climate System and Climate Change

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Sciences and Management of Nature (cod. 9257)

    Also valid for Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Geology and Territory (cod. 9073)

Learning outcomes

The factors determining the Earth’s climate will be explored, such as the geographic constraints, energy and water, and oceanic and atmospheric circulation, solar heating, tropical variability, ice ages, and greenhouse gases. Then we will look at how the climate expresses itself in terms of phenomena, including heat waves, tropical cyclones (hurricanes and typhoons) and floods. The potential consequences of human-induced climate change and their implications for policy formulation will then be analyzed, focusing on risks to people, societies, and ecosystems. We will also look at the international policy initiatives to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and to adapt to climate change.

Course contents

PART I: Earth Climate System

Topic 1: The components of the Climate System and their interactions

Topic 2: Atmospheric Circulation

Topic 3: The Hydrological Cycle

Topic 4: Ocean Circulation

Topic 5: Cryosphere

Topic 6: Climate Variability


PART II: Climate Change

Topic 7: The greenhouse effect

Topic 8: The greenhouse gases

Topic 9: Climate of the past

Topic 10: Modelling the Climate

Topic 11: Climate change for the twenty-first century and beyond

Topic 12: The impacts of climate change

Topic 13: Why should we be concerned?

Topic 14: Weighing the uncertainty?


Reference material for part I: Notes to be distributed

Reference material for part II: J. Houghton, Global Warming, The Complete Briefing, 5ed, Cambridge University Press, 2015

Teaching methods

All lectures and exercises are done in the classroom (all frontal lectures)

Assessment methods

The assessment will be carried out by the combination of a midterm written exam and a final oral exam.

Teaching tools

The lectures are given at the blackboard and other material is distributed through the Web

Office hours

See the website of Giovanni Liguori