Fall 2021 - GEOG 314 D100

The Climate System (4)

Class Number: 4303

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 12:30 PM – 2:20 PM
    SSCC 9000, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 14, 2021
    3:30 PM – 6:30 PM
    WMC 3260, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

    Kirsten Zickfeld
    1 778 782-9047
    Office: RCB 6238
    Office Hours: TBA
  • Prerequisites:

    GEOG 214.



A survey of the climate system, with emphasis on the interactions among its components; radiation, energy and water balances; carbon cycle; climate sensitivity and feedbacks; natural and human-induced climate change. Quantitative.


Course Details: This course examines the basic principles and processes governing the Earth’s climate. It emphasizes the notion of climate as a “system”, i.e. an entity regulated by the physical and biogeochemical interactions between its components – the atmosphere, ocean and land surface. Topics examined in the course include:

  • The “system’s approach” to climate
  • Global energy balance, greenhouse effect
  • Atmospheric circulation, hydrologic cycle
  • Climate variability
  • Ocean circulation and climate
  • Land surface and climate
  • Carbon cycle
  • Climate feedbacks
  • History and evolution of Earth’s climate
  • Global warming

Course organization: The course will be organized around a 2-hour in-person lecture, supplemented with lecture recordings, and a 2-hour in-person laboratory session each week. All course materials will be made available through Canvas.

There will be no laboratory sessions in the first week of classes.


After completing the course students will be able to:

  • Recall and explain key processes in the atmosphere, ocean and on the land surface that govern Earth’s climate
  • Demonstrate proficiency in the use of simple models to interpret the dynamics of the climate system
  • Effectively communicate scientific information in written and visual form


  • Laboratory Assignments 35%
  • In-class Participation 5%
  • Midterm Exam 25%
  • Final Exam 35%



L.R. Kump, J.F. Kasting and R.G. Crane, The Earth System, 3rd Edition, Pearson, 2010, ISBN: 0-32-159779-6.

The text is only available as hardcopy. It will be supplemented with additional materials (notes, articles, online resources).

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.