ATOC 7500 Special Topics in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences: Why Does Climate Vary?


Dr. De-Zheng Sun


The state of the climate system has always been varying. Why? A fundamental cause for the propensity of the climate system to constantly vary its state of being is its own dynamics. This course illuminates the role of dynamics in climate change and variability through presenting some major climate phenomena in the climate system. These phenomena include the Madden-Julian Oscillation, the Monsoons, the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the Medieval Climate Anomaly, the Little Ice Age, and the recent Global Warming. Observed characteristics of these phenomena are first described. Key processes behind them are then exposed. The state-of-the-art understanding of why these phenomena take place is provided, together with the known unknowns. Along the way, some key mathematical tools are introduced with the aim to better equip the students in their own pursuit of a deeper understanding of why the state of the climate system has varied in the way we have observed, and how it may change in the future.

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