Skip main navigation
We use cookies to give you a better experience, if that’s ok you can close this message and carry on browsing. For more info read our cookies policy.
We use cookies to give you a better experience. Carry on browsing if you're happy with this, or read our cookies policy for more information.
Online course

Causes of Climate Change

Understand the physical processes behind climate variations in the past, present and future, with this free online course

Why join the course?

This free online course provides the basis for understanding the underlying physical processes governing climate variations in the past, present and future.

In the course, we focus on explaining the main external forcing mechanisms such as the sun, volcanoes, and changes in greenhouse gasses and aerosols, which can contribute to changing the global energy budget and initiate climate variations.

We also describe the important role of internal feedback mechanisms and the energy transport in the atmosphere and ocean, in order to understand regional variations in climate.

Through this course, you will gain an in-depth understanding of the complexities of the climate system, and be able to put the recently observed, man-made changes in climate in the context of past natural changes.

You will learn with experts from The University of Bergen, which has a strong focus on Earth and Marine Sciences. It hosts the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, the largest centre for natural science-based climate research in Scandinavia.

Download video: standard or HD

Skip to 0 minutes and 15 secondsDid you ever wonder what drives the climate system? Or did you ever wonder why there is such a large contrast in climate between our location here on the west coast of Norway, compared to southern Greenland, which are all at the same latitude?

Skip to 0 minutes and 30 secondsMy name is Kerim Hestnes Nisancioglu, I am a professor at the Department of Earth Science at the University of Bergen. Here in Bergen it is not uncommon that it rains up to 3 meters in one year. This is because of the frequent storms coming off the ocean and hitting the mountains surrounding our beautiful city. It is therefore no surprise that modern meteorology was developed here in Bergen. In this course we will try to answer many of the key questions relating to the dynamics of the climate system and what drives it. We will also take you on a brief tour of past changes in climate and their causes, as well as discuss the implications of man made emissions of greenhouse gases.

Skip to 1 minute and 11 seconds- My energy source today is this sandwich. Together with professor Asgeir Sorteberg we'll be guiding you through 6 lectures, including interactive problem sets and background reading. Along the way we will visit heavy snowfall in the mountains surrounding Bergen, as well as calving glaciers on the coast of Greenland. On behalf of the University of Bergen I hope you'll find this course both stimulating, challenging and fun.

What topics will you cover?

  • Radiative forcing
  • Climate feedbacks and heat transport
  • Past changes in climate and ocean heat uptake

When would you like to start?

Who is the course for?

This course is intended for those with an interest in the physical aspects of climate variations and change. It does not require any previous experience of studying the subject, but high school level mathematics and physics is recommended.

Who will you learn with?

Kerim Hestnes Nisancioglu

Professor of Climate Dynamics at the Department of Earth Science at the University of Bergen and the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research @nissenjo #FLclimatechange

Asgeir Sorteberg

I am Professor in atmospheric dynamics working at the Geophysical Institute, University of Bergen (GFI) and the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research (BCCR).

Who developed the course?

The University of Bergen (UiB) offers first-class education and cutting-edge research at our location in the city centre of Bergen, Norway.

Learners collage mobile
Join this course


  • Access to this course for 5 weeks
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes


  • Unlimited access to this course
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes
  • Certificate of Achievement to prove your success when you're eligible
  • Download and print your Certificate of Achievement anytime
Contact FutureLearn for Support