Fall 2019 - GEOG 314 D100

The Climate System (4)

Class Number: 4321

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 12:30 PM – 2:20 PM
    WMC 2200, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 7, 2019
    12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
    AQ 3181, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

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

    GEOG 214. Recommended: MATH 151 and 152 or MATH 154 and 155 or MATH 157 and 158.



A survey of the climate system, with emphasis on the interactions among its components; radiation, energy and water balances; climate sensitivity and feedbacks; natural and anthropogenic climate change; climate models. 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  

The course is organized around one 2-hour lecture and one 2-hour laboratory session per week.

There will be NO laboratory sessions in the first week of classes.
This course may NOT be applied towards a certificate in liberal arts.


Educational Goals:
After completing the course students will be able to:

·         Explain key processes in the atmosphere, ocean and land surface that govern Earth’s climate
·         Demonstrate proficiency in the quantitative analysis of the dynamics of the climate system using simple models
·         Effectively communicate scientific results in writing


  • Lab and In-class Assignments 40%
  • Mid-Term Exam 25%
  • Final Exam 35%



L.R. Kump, J.F. Kasting and R.G. Crane, The Earth System, 3rd Edition, Prentice Hall, 2010. The textbook does not cover all topics discussed in the course, and will be supplemented with additional materials (book chapters, articles, websites etc.).

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