Introduction to Weather and Climate (EART 12)
Many meteorological phenomena are familiar to us: clouds, fog, rain, snow, wind, lightning, and severe storms. However, the climate—weather averaged over decades and longer—is changing in response to human activities. In this course, we will use physics and chemistry to build an understanding of the fundamental features of the atmosphere from first principles as much as possible. The goals are to understand how weather and climate on Earth works, what is the climate forecast, and what can we do as individuals and as a society to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
Winter, 2019, Winter 2018, Fall 2016
The Atmosphere (EART 121)
Atmospheric sciences is an applied discipline concerned with the structure and evolution of planetary atmospheres and the wide range of phenomena that occur within them. It is organized into the sub-disciplines of meteorology, atmospheric chemistry, and climate science. In this course, we will examine the fundamental physical concepts common to all atmospheric sciences, including thermodynamics, radiative transfer, cloud microphysics, and atmospheric dynamics, then investigate weather and climate phenomena, such as storms, hurricanes, and climate variability and change. Prerequisite(s): Mathematics 11B or 19B, Chemistry 1A, Physics 5B or 6B.
Modeling Earth's Climate (EART 124)
A hands-on investigation of the climate system using numerical and mathematical models. Topics include the physical laws governing climate and climate change, the hierarchy of model complexity, parameterization versus simulation, using models for prediction versus understanding, and application of simple climate models to past and future climates on Earth. Some experience in atmospheric sciences or a high-level programming language (Python, Matlab, R, etc.) is helpful. Prerequisite(s): Mathematics 11B or 19B and Physics 5B or 6B.
Atmospheric Dynamics (EART 290M)
Fluid dynamics is fundamental to our understanding of the atmosphere and oceans. This course emphasizes the study of air motion associated with weather and climate. Topics will include conservation laws of momentum, mass, and energy; balanced flow and thermal wind; circulation, vorticity, and potential vorticity; atmospheric oscillations such as Rossby waves; and quasi-geostrophic analysis. The goal is to understand the behavior of large-scale, midlatitude weather systems in terms of the physical laws governing the atmospheric motions.
Atmospheric Rivers (EART 290M)
So-called “atmospheric rivers,” narrow regions of high water vapor transport, are associated with extreme precipitation along the west coasts of many continents, often triggering flooding and landsliding. Consequently, these events represent both an important natural hazard in California but also a critical water resource. This reading seminar will introduce students to the meteorology, climatology, hydrology, and geomorphology of atmospheric river events in the Western U.S.
Fall 2017 (with N. Finnegan)