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GEOG282 Climate Change: Present and Future

Principles of meteorology, with particular reference to climate variations; twentieth-century climate change; estimates of future climate; laboratories as required.

The field of atmospheric sciences covers a broad range of subjects related to the properties and processes of the Earth's atmosphere. Their focus varies, ranging from the surface to the upper layers of the atmosphere. Not only is there an interest in the fundamental properties of the atmosphere, but also in the interactions of the atmosphere with the Earth's surface, as well as how the atmosphere affects human activities. More recently, there has also been a much greater awareness of the need to better understand the extent to which human activities have modified atmospheric processes and phenomena in the context of climate variability and change.

In this paper the fundamental processes controlling our atmosphere and weather are initially examined, which provides a platform to examine in detail climate change in the present and future. All topics, including the detailed study of weather systems and climate change, are described in a New Zealand weather and climate context.

Paper title Climate Change: Present and Future
Paper code GEOG282
Subject Geography
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2018, expected to be offered in 2019
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,038.45
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,492.80

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GEOG 101
GEOG 388
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Science
The content of the paper assumes that students have undertaken at least one introductory paper in Physical Geography or a related subject.
Teaching staff
Lecturer: Associate Professor Nicolas Cullen
Paper Structure
The objectives of this paper are to:
  • Give students an opportunity to better understand the atmospheric processes responsible for controlling the generation and decay of our weather systems
  • Examine some of the critical issues linked to climate change in the present and future
Specific topics include:
  • General circulation of the atmosphere
  • Atmospheric stability and air-mass characteristics
  • Origins of horizontal airflow
  • Three-dimensional motion and weather systems
  • Synoptic scale circulation
  • Principles of divergence, convergence and vorticity
  • Fronts and depressions
  • Anticyclones
  • Climate records and past climate variability
  • Climate change processes in the present and the future
The paper is structured in such a way that the specific topics described above are, by and large, investigated in three lecture blocks:
  • Firstly, a theoretical description of the processes responsible for motion and weather in the atmosphere is given, which includes principles of divergence, convergence and vorticity
  • Secondly, knowledge obtained in the first lecture block is used to better understand weather systems that affect New Zealand. A detailed assessment of one week's weather using synoptic charts and other meteorological data sets is required
  • Thirdly, an assessment of climate change in New Zealand and elsewhere and policy to respond to observed climate variability is made
Required: Sturman, A. and Tapper, N. (2006), The Weather and Climate of Australia and New Zealand. Second Edition, Oxford University Press, Melbourne
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Environmental literacy.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this paper students should be able to:
  • Understand the atmospheric processes responsible for controlling the generation and decay of weather systems
  • Identify factors that are important in controlling day-to-day weather changes using a range of atmospheric data products
  • Appreciate the critical issues related to climate change confronting New Zealand and elsewhere
  • Apply knowledge gained in this paper to other topics of interest in physical geography

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Not offered in 2018, expected to be offered in 2019

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system