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This content is taken from the University of Bergen & Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research's online course, Causes of Climate Change. Join the course to learn more.

Course overview

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

It focuses on explaining the main external forcing mechanisms such as the sun, volcanoes, changes in greenhouse gasses and aerosols that can contribute to changing the global energy budget and initiate climate variations. We will also discuss the role of different feedback mechanisms and the importance of energy transport in the atmosphere and ocean in order to understand regional variations in climate.

During the three weeks of the course we will explore the following main concepts:

Week 1:

  • Natural radiative forcing

  • Man made radiative forcing

Week 2:

  • Atmospheric and oceanic heat transport

  • Climate feedbacks

Week 3:

  • Past changes in climate

  • Ocean heat uptake and climate predictability

After completing the course you will be able to:

  • explain the fundamental physical mechanisms behind large scale climate variability

  • understand the basic external forcing mechanisms that initiate climate variations

  • explain and quantify the main feedback mechanisms in the climate system

  • understand the importance of oceanic and atmospheric energy transport

  • explain how climate has varied in the past and how these changes are recorded

  • understand the role of ocean heat uptake


In the downloads section below you will find a glossary of terms used in the lectures and articles. The glossary will be updated throughout the course, so please let us know if any terms are unclear and not included in the glossary.

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This article is from the free online course:

Causes of Climate Change

University of Bergen