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12.301/12.842 Climate Physics and Chemistry (Fall)

Undergraduate / Graduate class

Course Description

This course introduces students to climate studies, including beginnings of the solar system, time scales, and climate in human history. It also talks about:

  • methods for detecting climate change, including proxies, ice cores, instrumental records, and time series analysis
  • physical and chemical processes in climate, including primordial atmosphere, ozone chemistry, carbon and oxygen cycles, and heat and water budgets
  • internal feedback mechanisms, including ice, aerosols, water vapor, clouds, and ocean circulation
  • climate forcing, including orbital variations, volcanism, plate tectonics, and solar variability
  • climate models and mechanisms of variability, including energy balance, coupled models, and global ocean and atmosphere models

This course meets with graduate subject 12.842 (Climate Physics and Chemistry), but assignments differ.

12.340 Global Warming Science (Spring)

Undergraduate class

Course Description

This course provides students with a scientific foundation of anthropogenic climate change and an introduction to climate models. Focuses on fundamental physical processes that shape climate (e.g. solar variability, orbital mechanics, greenhouse gases, atmospheric and oceanic circulation, and volcanic and soil aerosols) and on evidence for past and present climate change. Discusses material consequences of climate change, including sea level change, variations in precipitation, vegetation, storminess, and the incidence of disease. Examines the science behind mitigation and adaptation proposals.

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12.803 Quasi-Balanced Circulations in Oceans and Atmospheres (Fall)

Graduate class

Course Description

This course introduces the students to dynamics of large-scale circulations in oceans and atmospheres. Basic concepts include mass and momentum conservation, hydrostatic and geostrophic balance, and pressure and other vertical coordinates. It covers the topics of fundamental conservation and balance principles for large-scale flow, generation and dissipation of quasi-balanced eddies, as well as equilibrated quasi-balanced systems. Examples of oceanic and atmospheric quasi-balanced flows, computational models, and rotating tank experiments can be found in the accompaniment laboratory course 12.804, Large-scale Flow Dynamics Lab.

Basic Topics to be Covered:

  • Fundamental Conservation and Balance Principles for Large-scale Flow
  • Generation and Dissipation of Quasi-balanced Eddies
  • Equilibrated Quasi-balanced Systems

12.811 Tropical Meteorology (Spring)

Graduate class

Course Description

This course describes the behavior and dynamics of the tropical troposphere, from the large-scale energy balance down to cumulus convection and tropical cyclones. Topics include: Radiative-convective equilibrium; the Hadley and walker circulation; monsoons; tropical boundary layers; theory of the response of the tropical atmosphere to localized sea-surface temperature anomalies; intraseasonal oscillations; equatorial waves; El Niño/Southern Oscillation; easterly waves; and tropical cyclones.

Basic Topics to be Covered:

  • Radiative-Convective Equilibrium
  • The Zonally-Averaged Circulation
  • Asymmetric Steady Circulations
  • Interannual Fluctuations of the Walker Circulation - ENSO
  • Intraseasonal Oscillations
  • Quasi-equilibrium Theory of Small Perturbations to Radiative-Convective Equilibrium States
  • Tropical Cyclones

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