Syllabus contents:

Course Description


Grading Policy



ATM S 211: Fall Quarter 2004
Climate and Climate Change


Instructor: Cecilia Bitz
Phone: (206) 543-1339
Office: Room 428 in the Atmospheric Sciences Building
Office hours: Tuesdays 12:30-1:30, or by appointment

Teaching Assistant: Tomislav Maric
Phone: (206) 685-9134
Office: Room 623 in the Atmospheric Sciences Building
Office hours: Friday 11:45-12:45

Teaching Assistant: Terry Kubar
Phone: (206) 685-9303
Office: Room 714 in the Atmospheric Sciences Building
Office hours: Monday 11:45-12:45

Class Meeting Times and Location: Monday-Thursday from 10:30 to 11:20 am in Bagley Hall (BAG) 154 plus Section on Friday from 10:30 to 11:20 on one of the following:

Section AA in Mary Gates Hall (MGH) 231

Section AB in Anderson (AND) 008

Download syllabus in PDF format
Course Description

This is an introductory course for nonscience majors on climate and climate change.  The class will be divided in three parts:

  • Climate of the present.  We will examine the nature of the global climate system and the main processes controlling climate.  Topics covered will include the global energy balance, atmospheric circulation, the role of oceans in climate, the carbon cycle, atmospheric composition.
  • Climate of the past.   In this part of the class we will discuss how climate changed in the past on timescales ranging from billions of years to thousands of years. 
  • Climate of the future. Is the Earth getting warmer?  Why? How will climate change over the next 100 years? Should we be concerned? These are some of the current major environmental concerns which we will discuss in class.


"The Earth System" by Lee R. Kump, James F. Kasting, and Robert C. Crane, Prentice Hall, 1999. 

The lectures will largely follow the textbook. Each week you will be required to read material of direct relevance to the class, but if you are curious, you may want to read the entire book. 

Grading policy

Your grade will be based on the following: 

    Research Project and Poster Symposium 25% 
    Comprehensive Final Exam 25% 
    Debate, Reviews, and Class Participation 10% 

You are expected to attend and participate in class.  Approximately five quizzes will be given without pior notice.  Your lowest quiz score will not be counted in your grade.  There will be no make-up exams or quizzes except in extreme circumstances, in which case you must contact the instructor in advance of the exam or as soon as possible after a missed quiz. 

Research Project and Poster Symposium

You will form groups of 1-3 and research some aspect of Earth's climate.  The instructor and TAs will suggest some topics in a separate document.  Each person in the group must pursue a separate and unique idea that is related to the topic. Your grade on the project will be based on (1) a separate report written by each individual (which will need to be revised if you are taking this as a writing W class) and (2) a group poster presentation at two symposia on November 9 and 10.

Assignments and quizzes

The assignments will require you to answer questions (mostly short answer) drawn from lectures, the textbook, and online resources.  Assignments are due in class at 10:30 on the day indicated.  Late assignments will not be accepted without advanced arrangement.

Quizzes will be given throughout the quarter and will be similar to the homework. They may be given on any day of the week (including Friday) and must be taken without the use of books or notes.

See the course home page for links to the actual assignments.


 Last Updated:

Contact the instructor at: