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    Principles of meteorology, with particular reference to weather systems; climate variability and change; projected future trends; climate change policy; a project and 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.

    About this paper

    Paper title Climate Change: Present and Future
    Subject Geography
    EFTS 0.15
    Points 18 points
    Teaching period Not offered in 2024 (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $1,173.30
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    54 GEOG points
    GEOG 282
    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 related subject.
    Teaching staff

    Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Nicolas Cullen

    Paper Structure

    The course is structured in such a way that the specific topics described above are by and large investigated in 3 lecture blocks:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Thirdly, an assessment of climate change in New Zealand and elsewhere and policy to respond to observed climate variability is made.
    Teaching Arrangements

    2 lectures per week and 7 x 3 hour laboratories scheduled over the 13 weeks of semester.


    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, and understand the importance of global citizenship to tackle the problems associated with climate change.
    • Critically assess the interconnections between the atmopshere and other components of the physical environment.
    • Independently design and conduct a detailed analysis to assess atmopsheric processes governing variability in weather systems.
    • Critically evaluate and present both observed and modelled atmospheric data using the latest digitally-based weather and climate data products.


    Not offered in 2024

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught On Campus
    Learning management system
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