Introduction to the physics of the climate system and its modelling

lphys2162  2019-2020  Louvain-la-Neuve

Introduction to the physics of the climate system and its modelling
Note from June 29, 2020
Although we do not yet know how long the social distancing related to the Covid-19 pandemic will last, and regardless of the changes that had to be made in the evaluation of the June 2020 session in relation to what is provided for in this learning unit description, new learnig unit evaluation methods may still be adopted by the teachers; details of these methods have been - or will be - communicated to the students by the teachers, as soon as possible.
5 credits
22.5 h + 22.5 h
Goosse Hugues; van Ypersele de Strihou Jean-Pascal;

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.

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.

The contribution of this Teaching Unit to the development and command of the skills and learning outcomes of the programme(s) can be accessed at the end of this sheet, in the section entitled “Programmes/courses offering this Teaching Unit”.
  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
Additionnal module in Physics

Master [60] in Physics

Master [120] in Forests and Natural Areas Engineering

Master [120] in Chemistry and Bioindustries

Master [120] in Agricultural Bioengineering

Master [60] in Environmental Science and Management

Master [120] in Ethics

Master [120] in Philosophy

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

Master [120] in Geography : Climatology

Master [120] in Environmental Science and Management

Master [120] in Physics

Master [120] in Geography : General

Master [120] in Environmental Bioengineering