“Our Energy Future: Technology, Economics and Climate Change”

Session 1 - Energy Introduction
Session 2 - Climate Science
Session 3 - Fossil Fuels
Session 4.- The Electricity Grid
    Electricity pricing (Brian Foulds)
Session 5. Renewable Energy - Hydro and Wind
Session 6. Renewable Energy - Solar and Storage
Session 7. Nuclear Energy - Fission and Fusion
Session 8. Wrap-up: Renewables vs Base-load Options, and Policy
    Solar Array and Thermal Plant Comparison (Michael Rudd)
    Carbon Policy Options (Gilbert Metcalf)

“Earth Science and Climate Change”

Preliminary Course Outline – Fall 2014

1) Introduction

  • What is climate vs weather?
  • A little data to whet the appetite
  • Scientific theories and uncertainty.
  • Bias vs healthy skepticism

2) The Earth – An introduction

  • General features of the earth and its climate
  • Size and position in the solar system, seasons
  • The atmosphere, ocean, landmasses, and biosphere

3) Physics concepts:

  • Energy – a conserved quantity
  • Potential, kinetic and chemical energy
  • Heat transfer: conduction, radiation, convection and evaporation

4) The Atmosphere and its Chemistry

  • Chemistry concepts: periodic table, molecular theory and the gas law.
  • Temperature of the atmosphere with height
  • Winds and large-scale currents and clouds
  • Synthetic chemicals and the Ozone hole

5) Radiation: what heats and cools the earth

  • How much does a warm body radiate, and what frequencies?
  • Spectrum of solar and terrestrial radiation
  • Concept of thermal equilibrium – when radiated = absorbed
  • The Greenhouse effect (how the trace gasses keep us warm)

6) Climate Forcings and Feedbacks

  • Concept of feedback, positive or negative
  • Discuss IPCC summary of net forcings and their uncertainties
  • The carbon cycle, temperature regulation of the planet

7) The Ocean and its role in the climate

  • The currents and what drives them
  • The very long time scales for deep ocean currents
  • The heat capacity – where might that heat be going
  • Ocean CO2 uptake

8) Paleoclimate – what can we learn from the past?

  • The geologic thermostat regulating atmospheric CO2 and temperature
  • Proxy measurements: how are they made
  • Data from different time spans in the past
  • The Milancovic cycles and ice ages

9) Climate modeling – how to predict the future development of the climate

  • Climate modeling – how it works
  • Results of climate models
  • How well can we trust what comes out of the models

10) What the future will bring?

  • How much does it matter what we emit?
  • Time scales for recovery
  • Solutions for getting back on track

Lecture Notes:

Earth Science and Climate Change – session 1

Earth Science and Climate Change – session 2

Earth Science and Climate Change – session 3

Earth Science and Climate Change – session 4

Earth Science and Climate Change – session 5

Earth Science and Climate Change – session 6

Earth Science and Climate Change – session 7

Earth Science and Climate Change – session 8

Earth Science and Climate Change – session 9

Earth Science and Climate Change – session 10



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