January 20, 2014

Free MIT online course in Climate Science

It has just been brought to my attention on the Arctic Sea Ice Forum that edX are offering a free 12 week online course on the topic of climate science, starting on February 19th. The course is (provocatively?) entitled "Global Warming Science", and is led by three lecturers from the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It provides:

An introduction to the physics of the climate system and the basic science underpinning discussions of anthropogenic climate change.

The course is free of charge, and is one example of the growing trend for universities worldwide to offer massive open online courses (or MOOCs for short) to anybody anywhere in the world with access to an internet connection. There are some recommended educational prerequisites for this course. According to edX once more, the course:

Does not require any prior knowledge of climate or atmospheric science. Some college-level mathematics (calculus, including ordinary differential equations) and physics (electromagnetism, mechanics) as well as high-school chemistry are required. Beyond these requirements, familiarity with the concept of a partial differential equation and some knowledge of basic thermodynamics will be helpful, but not essential; extra readings will be available for students unfamiliar with the concepts.

I've already done all that sort of stuff (albeit many moons ago!) and it's also a very long time since I've done any exams, so I've signed up to "audit" the course. Here's the introductory video:

and here's a more detailed syllabus:

12.340x introduces the basic science underpinning our knowledge of the climate system, how climate has changed in the past, and how it may change in the future. The course focuses on the fundamental energy balance in the climate system, between incoming solar radiation and outgoing infrared radiation, and how this balance is affected by greenhouse gases. We will also discuss physical processes that shape the climate, such as atmospheric and oceanic convection and large-scale circulation, solar variability, orbital mechanics, and aerosols, as well as the evidence for past and present climate change. We will discuss climate models of varying degrees of complexity, and you will be able to run a model of a single column of the Earth's atmosphere, which includes many of the important elements of simulating climate change. Together, this range of topics forms the scientific basis for our understanding of anthropogenic (human-influenced) climate change.

Would anybody else care to join me?

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Comments on Free MIT online course in Climate Science »

January 20, 2014

Jim @ 6:38 pm

P.S. It's just been brought to my attention that my local university launched a MOOC on the topic of "Climate change: challenges and solutions" last week.

This one doesn't mention partial differential equations though, and is led by Professor Tim Lenton, who is Chair in Climate Change/Earth System Science at the University of Exeter:

The course is aimed at the level of students entering university, and seeks to provide an inter-disciplinary introduction to what is a broad field. It engages a number of experts from the University of Exeter and a number of partner organisations.

No previous experience or qualifications required.

January 21, 2014

Neven @ 10:01 pm

No time, no time, no time…

Maybe next year.

Some college-level mathematics (calculus, including ordinary differential equations) and physics (electromagnetism, mechanics) as well as high-school chemistry are required.

It looks like I'll have to do another course first. :-)

January 22, 2014

Jim @ 4:02 pm

There's always the Exeter course instead Neven, which apparently includes no tricky maths or physics!

This week they're covering "Snowball Earth", which if I recall correctly is one of Tim Lenton's specialist subjects.

All of which reminds me that it should be possible to simulate a Snowball Earth on our Raspberry Pi planet simulator.

Neven @ 10:45 pm

Actually, I'd rather do some online meteorology course. It bugs me that I still don't get how the weather works, although to be honest I haven't tried that hard either.

January 24, 2014

Jim @ 12:29 pm

A quick search reveals quite a few "climate change" MOOCs including varying degrees of calculus, but none on meteorology. The nearest I can find is the lecture notes for a course on "Tropical Meteorology" on the MIT Open Courseware web site:

It seems lecture notes on the "Global Warming Science" course are available there too!

February 7, 2014

Chris Reynolds @ 5:12 pm

Hi Jim, long time no speak…

I see the SW is getting a serious hammering at present. Channel 4 News were drawing links to AGW a couple of nights ago. It's in my mind, mainly the increase in atmospheric water vapour, I still don't see an AGW fingerprint in the synoptics that seems to be linked to the polar vortex.

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