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2017/18 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

SOEE5685M Weather, Climate and Air Quality

30 creditsClass Size: 10

Module manager: Dr Andrew Ross

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 View Timetable

Year running 2017/18


SOEE1301Intermediate Mathematics for Environmental and Geophysical S
SOEE1400Intro Meteorology Weather Fore

This module is mutually exclusive with

SOEE3410Atmo & Ocean Climate Change
SOEE3431Atmospheric Pollution: Causes, Impact and Regulation
SOEE3700Practical Weather Forecasting

Module replaces

SOEE5830M Atmosphere and Ocean Climate Change ProcessesSOEE5570M Practical Weather Forecasting

This module is not approved as an Elective


This module brings together a range of topics from across the atmospheric sciences which are of importance for Environmental Scientists. These will cover the broad theme of meteorology and weather forecasting, climate change processes and air quality and atmospheric chemistry.

Meteorology and Weather Forecasting

- to understand and appreciate the dynamical, physical processes which occur in the earth's atmosphere;
- use basic standard methods to analyse the atmosphere and make weather forecasts;
- to gain an understanding of the numerical approximations and limitations of Numerical Weather Prediction Models;
- to gain expertise in the critical analysis and appreciation of data provided from the computer simulations;
- to enable students to run a state of the art NWP model;
- present complex meteorological data and forecasts to users, in written and televised formats.
- understand the value of forecasts to diverse users;
- to provide transferable skills in area of scientific interpretation.

Climate change processes

- The coupling and feedback systems between the atmosphere and ocean that is driving energy transfer and climate change.
- Concepts of surface exchange of heat fluxes and greenhouse gas transfer between atmosphere/land/ocean/biosphere.
- The role of clouds in the climate system, including their effect on radiation and energy transfer.
- How clouds are parametrised in climate models and the very large uncertainties in their effect on climate change.
- The response of the upper oceans mixed layer and water mass formation to air-sea fluxes in a changing atmospheric/ocean system and its effect on the thermohaline circulation.
- The scientific aspects, predictions and consequences of the recession of sea ice on global sea levels.
- How all these climate processes can be simplified and parametrised in climate models, and appreciate what limitations these introduce in the models.

Air Quality and Atmospheric Chemistry

By the end of this module students will have an understanding of the sources and processing of air pollution in the troposphere and stratosphere, its impacts on human health and ecosystems, and its interactions with the climate system. This will include a knowledge of the sources and sinks of air pollutants on a range of scales (such as UK national air quality strategy pollutants, greenhouse gases, ozone-depleting gases, transboundary pollutants, hazardous air pollutants); impact upon human and environmental health; measurement and monitoring; improvement technologies, emissions control strategies and the economic implications of these. On completion of the module students should be able to understand and use a simple computer box model to predict response of air pollution to different emission changes and climatic changes, perform analysis of computer model output and present scientific results suitable for use by politicians or consultants.

Skills outcomes
- the ability to use and run a variety of computer models including state of the art atmospheric numerical weather prediction models and a range of simpler models for weather, climate and air quality applications;
- to critically evaluate and analyse complex data produced by models and to work to the tight time-pressure required for producing a forecast.
- to be able to use model output data to generate a forecast suitable for the general public, and to provide critical evaluation of quality of the results;
- to improve scientific appreciation of the limitations of advanced numerical codes and the methods of obtaining a numerical solution of the equations;
- to understand the physical processes being represented in the numerical computer model, in terms of the equations being solved for the dynamics, and the parameterisations for unresolved processes.


Weather forecasting
- Empirical and NWP techniques used to generate weather forecasts
- The basic science behind the WRF model
- Classwork / practical sessions on running the model and analysis software
- Specific application to test case flows and forecasts
- Critical interpretation sessions of the data produced by the model
- Representation of basic physical and thermodynamical processes simulated in general circulation models.
- Principles of broadcast meteorology and presenting a weather forecast.

Climate processes
- Students will be taught about the physical coupling and feedback of significant atmospheric and ocean processes currently thought responsible for the observed rapid changes in the Earth's climate.
- Atmosphere radiative transfer through high and low level clouds and the physical implications of aerosols on climate
- Atmospheric circulation, surface ocean/terrestrial/biosphere exchange processes, greenhouse gas fluxes
- Implications of sea ice (sea levels), deep convection and mixed layer dynamics on ocean heat budgets and the breakdown of the thermohaline circulation.

Air quality
- Air pollution legislation, international protocols.
- Global scale air pollution and stratospheric ozone depletion
- Secondary PM formation
- Regional scale photochemical ozone pollution.
- Particulate matter, PM10 and PM2.5.
- Health effects, ecosystem effects of air pollution and reduction in visibility
- Toxic air pollutants – mercury and POPs.
- Climate-air quality feedbacks
- Monitoring networks, Historic trends
- Atmospheric composition modelling,
- Future projections.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
On-line Learning13.003.00
Computer Class41.004.00
Independent online learning hours20.00
Private study hours215.00
Total Contact hours70.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)305.00

Private study

20 hours independent online learning using the WRF model and running the example cases.

Private study
- 56 hours exam revision
- 108 independent study
- 46 hours preparation for practicals / report writing.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress is monitored through the module with:
- verbal feedback during practical classes
- written feedback on coursework during the module
- marks and general feedback on exams after semester 1.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
ReportProject Report 1,000 words (climate processes), for submission in semester 1.15.00
PresentationVerbal Presentation - 3 minute forecast + 500 word science justification15.00
Practical2 x computer practical worksheets15.00
ReportProject Report 1,500 words (forecasting), for submission in semester 1.15.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)60.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)2 hr 00 mins20.00
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)1 hr 00 mins20.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)40.00

The exams should be paired with level 5 variant

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 26/08/2016


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