FutureLearn Climate Change course (Univ. of Exeter): Week 1
As part of the futurelearn.com course on Climate Change currently being run by the University of Exeter, I am keeping a blog record of my responses to the course. This week, the first week of the course, I have been asked to reflect on these key questions:
- What the key scientific principles that explain climate change including the greenhouse (blanket) effect? heat absorbed by earth’s surface (70%), heat reflected from earth’s surface (30%), heat radiation back to earth from ‘blanket’ of gases that absorb heat radiated from earth’s surface, such as CO2 , water vapour, ozone, methane, and nitrous oxide
- What are the key feedback mechanisms that help to explain why our climate is able to “self-regulate”? water vapour feedback, ice albedo feedback, and radiation feedback.
- How can our climate be conceptualised as a system containing a series of components that interact with one another? the hydrosphere– this is dominated by the oceans but also includes fresh water, rivers, lakes, and groundwater; the biosphere– all the living things and soils; the cryosphere– ice sheets, sea ice, and mountain glaciers; and finally the lithosphere– the surface of the Earth’s crust.
- What are the most important themes you have learned this week? That the greenhouse is not a good analogy for how climate system is regulated. Blanket is a better analogy. Also, that there is a range of greenhouse gases that make up the ‘blanket’, and that changes in the climate feedback cycles can affect the quantity of some or all of the gases in the blanket.
- What aspect of this week did you find difficult? Understanding the Planck/Stefan Botltzmann radiation effect
- What did you find most interesting? And why? Finding that there are specific numbers for things like the albedo of ice and the amounts of solar radiation absorbed by earth (70%) and reflected from earth (30%) was fascinating
- Was there something that you learned this week that prompted you to do your own research? Yes, the Planck/Stefan Boltzmann radiation effect
- Are there any web sites or other online resource that you found particularly useful in furthering your knowledge and understanding? climatica.org.uk and skepticalscience.com