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Aerosols, Clouds and Climate

Aerosols and clouds represent the greatest uncertainty in our understanding of climate change. This course gives you a deeper understanding of the influence of aerosols and clouds on the climate, from small-scale processes to global climate models.

This course deals with the sources, sinks, and transformations of both natural and man-made aerosol particles. Another key part of the course is to understand the interaction between radiation and aerosols and clouds. You will learn about basic structure and functions of the atmosphere, including its exchange with the earth surface, and the general circulation of the atmosphere. Furthermore, the course explores atmospheric models, from the local scale up to the large GCMs.

Understanding of the uncertainty of climate predictions, especially in relation to changes in aerosols and clouds, are an important part of the course. The course also covers experimental measurements that can match the spatial scale of global model data (satellite observations and networks of measurement stations), the construction of emission scenarios and global emission data bases. We will look at how IPCC works and the role of science in climate-political negotiations for future emission reductions. We will also cover various proposed so called “geo-engineering” methods involving aerosols and supposed to cool the climate and discuss their risks and disadvantages.


Figure from IPPC’s report ”Climate Change 2007 – The physical science basis”
Figure from IPPC’s report ”Climate Change 2007 – The physical science basis”