One of the international exchange courses, Tokyo Metropolitan University
Academic year 2020, 1st semester (April-July 2020), Thursday 13:00-14:30, Minami-Osawa campus
Climate system, energy balance, greenhouse effect, natural and anthropogenic causes of climate change, adaptation to climate change, mitigation of climate change
Course Description / Theme
The subject of 2/3 of the course is natural science of climate change. The basic mechanism of global climate change is explained based on the physical principle of conservation of energy. Thinking about a century ahead, the outlook of "global warming" caused by emission of carbon dioxide by burning fossil fuel is robust, but still has a range of uncertainty.
The subject of the other 1/3 is climate change as a matter of global policymaking. Climate change is likely to have bad impacts to human society, and people need both to adapt to climate change and to reduce use of fossil fuel.
Knowledge & Abilities students can acquire through the class / Course objectives
Understanding of the relatively simple part of the mechanisms of global climate change. Experience of handling physical quantities relevant to climate change. Notion about complexity and uncertainty of climate. Understanding how climate change is framed in the agenda of global policymaking. Some thoughts about the relevance of climate change for the global human society.
Course Schedule, Contents
- Note: Correspondence between date and content may change during the course.
- 1. (14 May): Introduction: What are “climate”, “climate system”, “climate change”, “anthropogenic climate change”, and “global environmental issues” briefly? (Related materials: Textbook Chapter 1. Note that Dessler’s concepts may be different from mine.)
A very brief history of the development of the issue of “anthropogenic climate change”, in other words “global warming”. (Related materials: Textbook Section 13.1; Weart Chapters 1-6.)
- 2. (21 May): How climatic elements such as air temperature vary in time and space?
How climate have changed during the history of the earth, and how we can know it? (Textbook Chapter 2.) Some exercise of making graphs of numerical values will be presented.
- 3. (28 May): The concept of the climate system. It consists of the atmosphere, the ocean, the cryosphere and the “land surface”. (See, e.g. Goose Chapters 1-2.) In one way based on physics, it is a system of stocks and flows of mass and energy, governed by the physical laws of conservation. In another way based on control theory, it is a system of positive and negative feedbacks. (Related materials: Textbook Chapter 10.)
- 4. (4 June): Energy exchange of the climate system as a whole: solar radiation (visible light) and terrestrial radiation (infra-red) (Textbook Chapter 3). Introduction to “greenhouse effect” with a very simple model (Textbook Chapter 4).
- 5. (11 June): What can change radiative energy exchange of the climate system? Some of them are considered external forcing, others are considered feedbacks. (Textbook Sections 6.2, 5.1, Chapter 7).
- 6. (18 June): A basic reasoning of global warming caused by increasing concentration of “greenhouse gases” such as carbon dioxide. Steady-state response vs. time-dependent response. Importance of stocks of energy.(Textbook Sections 6.3, 6.4, Manabe & Broccoli)
Brief introduction to mathematical-physical models of the climate system (Goosse Chapter 3, Manabe & Broccoli)
- 7. (25 June): How the content of carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) in the atmosphere changes, and what are the causes? (Textbook Chapter 5)
- 8. (2 July): Anthropogenic climate change (or global warming) became an issue of global policymaking. IPCC and UNFCCC. (Textbook Chapter 13, Weart Chapters 7-9.)
- 9. (9 July): How projections (quasi-predictions) of future climate are made? How the water cycle will change according to them? How certain are they? (Textbook Chapter 8, Section 9.2)
- 10. (16 July): Likely impacts of climate change on ecosystems and human societies. (Textbook Chapter 9)
- 11. (23 July): How people can cope with climate change? What are so-called “adaptation”, “mitigation” and “geoengineering”? (Textbook Chapters 11-12)
- 12. (30 July): Climate change in the perspectives of “Limits to Growth”, inter-regional equity, inter-generational responsibility, etc. (Textbook Chapters 10, 14. Note that Dessler’s concepts may be different from mine.)
Information will be given on-line, partly through “kibaco” and partly through the lecturer’s personal web site. Every week I will put “outline of lecture” documents there, and students should start reading them, preferably before the lecture time. At each lecture time, a short interactive “zoom” session will be held, and explanation of the materials and assignments will be given. Students are requested to respond mainly by text “chat” or by e-mail (for, unfortunately, my capability of hearing English over network is not very good). Reading assignments of parts of the textbook or of the reference books, and short report assignments including calculation and graph making of climate-relevant physical variables, will be given. For calculation and graph making, example programs in the programming language R, which can be run on MS Windows, Mac or Linux, will be provided. (I will introduce R very briefly, but I cannot make full instruction of how to use R. Students may use their accustomed tools instead.)
Learning Activities outside the Classroom
Textbooks and/or References
On-line materials will be placed, besides “kibaco”, in the lecturer’s personal web site
http://macroscope.world.coocan.jp/en/edu/clim_change/2020/. It will be updated every week.
Textbook (One copy will be reserved. It is recommended but not required for the students to have their own copy.)
- (*) Andrew Dessler, 2015: Introduction to Modern Climate Change, 2 ed. Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-1-107-48067-4 (paperback, eTextbook).
References (One copy each will be reserved at some time during the semester.)
- (*) Hugues Goosse, 2015: Climate System Dynamics and Modelling. Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-1-107-44583-3 (paperback, eTextbook).
- Syukuro Manabe & Anthony J. Broccoli, 2020: Beyond Global Warming. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-05886-3 (hardcover), -18371-8 (paperback), -18516-3 (e-book).
- Spencer Weart, 2008: The Discovery of Global Warming, revised ed. Harvard University Press, ISBN 978-0-674-03189-0 (paperback). More detailed on-line version is available at
- (*) Andrew E. Dessler and Edward A. Parson, 2020: The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change, 3 ed.. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-316-63132-4 (paperback).
- Paul N. Edwards, 2010: A Vast Machine. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-01392-5 (hardcover), -51863-5 (paperback).
The books marked (*) are included in the “Cambridge Core” series, whose digital texts will be available free of charge until 31 May by arrangement between Cambridge U.P. and TMU Library.
Grading Evaluation Policy
Responses to short report assignments, mainly calculation of climate-relevant physical variables, several times during the semester. 40%.
End-ofterm report, including some confirmation of acquired knowledge, some original thoughts, and some computation. 60%.
How to contact the instructor for questions
e-mail masudak @ tmu.ac.jp
Notice for Students
I am a natural scientist. The contents of the part of natural science will be robust knowledge shared by climate scientists, which may be rather classical than cutting-edge. The contents in the part of climate-society interactions will be an interpretation of the interdisciplinary subject from my viewpoint, which may be naive in the sense of social sciences or humanities.
Updated 2020-04-17, Updated version placed on the Web 2020-04-19