Stockholm university
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Climate and the General Circulation

The course gives a physical understanding of the climate system, its natural and anthropogenically induced variation and change, as well as the general circulation of atmosphere and ocean and its relation to climate on regional to global scale.

The course gives a large-scale perspective on the climate system in terms of radiative balance and energy and momentum transport, and introduces important biogeochemical cycles; it further discusses mechanisms for natural climate variability and anthropogenically induced climate change, as well as the concepts of forcing, feedback and climate sensitivity.

The course offers the opportunity to, from the gained knowledge on climate and general circulation, discuss weather events and other topical issues, and gives practice in reading scientific literature and performing and presenting a small project.

  • Course structure

    The course has two parts, which together give a large-scale perspective on the climate system and general circulation.

    The CLIM part deals with

    • The climate system (radiation balance, greenhouse effect, radiative-convective equilibrium, clouds and radiation, surface energy balance, hydrological cycle, carbon cycle)
    • General circulation (meridional energy transport, momentum balance, climate types in relation to general circulation, ocean circulation, stratospheric circulation, natural climate variability)
    • Climate change (radiative forcing, feedbacks and climate sensitivity, climate models, future projections and human influence on climate)

    The PROJ part of the course consists of a project, where the climate of a chosen region is studied and discussed in relation to the general circulation.

    Teaching format

    The course is based on lectures, calculation exercises, and project work. The calculation exercises includes basic training in Python programming. For the project part, course participants work in groups (pairs) on investigating the climate of a chosen geographical region, and relating it to the general circulation. The work is presented in a written report (individually) and an oral presentation (in groups/pairs).

    Course materials

    Grading criteria, course literature and other material and correspondence related to the course will be available on the course Athena site at once you have registered for the course.


    A written exam is given on the CLIM part. The PROJ part is examined through written report and oral presentation.


    Here is a link to a list of course coordinators and examiners.

  • Schedule

    The schedule will be available no later than one month before the start of the course. We do not recommend print-outs as changes can occur. At the start of the course, your department will advise where you can find your schedule during the course.

    You can search for schedules from previous years in TimeEdit, by entering the course code.

    Link to TimeEdit

  • Course literature

    Note that the course literature can be changed up to two months before the start of the course.

    • Hartmann, D. L.: Global Physical Climatology, 2nd edition, Elsevier, 2016.
    • Holton, J. R. and Hakim: An introduction to dynamic meteorology, 5th edition, International Geophysics Series, Academic Press, 2012, 552 pp. Print Book ISBN: 9780123848666, eBook ISBN: 9780123848673
  • Contact

    Study counselor