Introduction to the physics of the climate system and its modelling

lphys2162  2022-2023  Louvain-la-Neuve

Introduction to the physics of the climate system and its modelling
5.00 credits
22.5 h + 22.5 h

LPHYS1213 for the students enrolled in the Bachelor in physics who wish to follow this teaching unit within the additional module in physics.
Main themes
Description of the climate system and its components ; energy balance, hydrological cycle and carbon cycle ; key feedback mechanisms and climate sensitivity to external perturbation ; natural variability of climate at all time scales ; hierarchy of models of the climate system ; greenhouse effect and climate change induced by human activities.
Learning outcomes

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :

1 a.     Contribution of the teaching unit to the learning outcomes of the programme (PHYS2M and PHYS1M)
A1.1, A.1.2, A1.5
A2.3, A2.5
A4.1, A4.2
A5.1, A5.4
A6.1, A6.2, A6.3, A6.5
A7.2, A7.3, A7.4, A7.5, A7.6
b.    Specific learning outcomes of the teaching unit
At the end of this teaching unit, the student will be able to :
1.     describe the main interactions between the components of the climate system ;
2.     develop a simple model of the climate system ;
3.     simulate the behavior of the climate system at various time scales ;
4.     choose the appropriate model according to the climatic problem ;
5.     estimate the uncertainties of observations and climate models ;
6.     assess the relevance of a climate theory based on available information ;
7.     structure the results of a model of a complex system.
  1. Description of the climate system and its components
  2. Energy balance, water cycle and carbon cycle
  3. Modelling of the climate system
  4. Response of the climate system to a perturbation
  5. Brief history of climate: causes and mechanisms
  6. Future climate change
Teaching methods
Integrative project.
Computer simulation sessions.
Online exercises.
List of articles to read.
Evaluation methods
Written exam: short development.
Individual oral examination based on a group project.
Project report.
Goosse H., 2015, Climate System Dynamics and Modelling, Cambridge University Press, (ISBN-13: 9781107445833), 358 pages.
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Learning outcomes
Additionnal module in Physics

Master [120] in Geography : Climatology

Master [60] in Physics

Master [120] in Environmental Science and Management

Master [120] in Environmental Bioengineering

Interdisciplinary Advanced Master in Science and Management of the Environment and Sustainable Development

Master [120] in Chemistry and Bioindustries

Master [120] in Physics

Master [120] in Geography : General

Master [120] in Agricultural Bioengineering