Fall 2022 - GEOG 314 D100

The Climate System (4)

Class Number: 2891

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 10:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    SSCC 9000, 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.


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, and a 2-hour in-person laboratory session each week. All course materials will be made available through Canvas.

Lab sessions will start in the second 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 website 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