Climate System as a Part of Environment (Masuda): Syllabus

[To Japanese version]

Course title

Climate System as a Part of Environment

Course code





The physical science of the climate system, which consists of the atmosphere and the hydrosphere, is presented. Based on such physical laws as conservation of mass and of energy, an overview of the energy and water cycles in the climate system is shown, with emphasis on the atmosphere. Climate change, in particular, global warming due to increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, is discussed from the viewpoint of changes in energy and water cycles.

Pass Criterion

The students will understand and the principal physical variables concerning the stocks and flows of energy and water in the climate system, as well as the mutual relationships, and will manipulate numerical variables representing them. They will be able to calculate rough numerical values concerning possible changes in the energy and water cycles of the climate system when forcing is given.

Course description

Fifteen lectures will be given, once a week. Short assignments will be given, roughly once in 3 lectures, to calculate some physical quantities related to mass and energy. The lectures will cover following subjects. The relationship between subjects and lectures is not straightforward and difficult to fix beforehand, but will be shown in the web pages linked from the page indicated in the "Related URL" section of this syllabus, and will be frequently updated.

  1. The position of "climate system" with respect to the earth. The systems of energy and mass cycles. Feedback systems.
  2. Physical laws which are necessary to discuss the climate system: conservation of mass; equations of motion; conservation of energy.
  3. How much water and air are on the earth, and where? Approximate hydrostatic balance.
  4. Flows of energy into and out of the climate system: Electromagnetic waves, solar radiation and terrestrial radiation.
  5. Radiative transfer in the atmosphere. "Greenhouse effect".
  6. Atmospheric thermodynamics. Convection. Cloud and precipitation (sketchy).
  7. Overview of energy and water budgets of the climate system. Atmospheric boundary layer (sketchy).
  8. Characteristics of atmospheric and oceanic motion on the rotating earth.
  9. The "general" circulations of the atmosphere and the ocean, and how they transport energy and water.
  10. Characteristics of climate caused by land-sea contrast related to energy and water cycles. Relationship between climate and vegetation (sketchy).
  11. Factors which can change global climate: Solar activity, greenhouse effect, effects of aerosols (sketchy).
  12. The mechanism of "global warming". The concept of so-called "climate change projection" simulations.
  13. Impacts of "global warming". The issue of "global warming" as a challenge of the global human society.


No formal course achievements are required. Knowledge of physics, chemistry and mathematics which are covered by first-year mandatory classes of the School of Agriculture may be presumed. The assignment of calculation in the end-of-term report may presume some capability to use computers comparable to the first-year classes of information processing. (The short assignments will be easy enough so that hand calculation may suffice.) The instructor will explain procedures of calculation, but will not teach how to use computers.


No textbooks will be specified. The course materials, including introduction to reference publications, will be posted on a page linked from the "Related URL".

Reference publication(s)

More will be introduced on a web page linked from the "Reference URL".

Evaluation standard

Small assignments, 4 times (evaluation focus: responding in-time), 10 points each. End-of-term report (Explanation of some concept and calculation of some quantity. Evaluation focus: understanding of course materials and ability to handle numerical quantities), 60 points.

Message from the instructor(s)

We should recognize nature in diverse qualities. We should also recognize nature in physical quantities. Both are important, and I expect you to develop both abilities.

Course keyword(s)

Climate system, hydrological cycle, energy cycle in the atmosphere and the hydrosphere, climate change, global warming, meteorology, climatology

Office hours

The 4-th time slot of Thursday. Location is not fixed. Please make appointments at the end of lecture time, or by e-mail.

Reference URL (The contents are mainly in Japanese. Ask the instructor for explanation in English.)

MASUDA Kooiti, part-time lecturer, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology at Fuchu
[To the index page of the course materials in 2017 (in Japanese)] [To the index page of course materials on "climate system" by Masuda (in Japanese)]