Reflections on Week One of Climate Change Course

This post is a reflective response to the questions posed in the final section (1.9) of week one of climate change with #exClimate at Exeter Uni. Reflect on these key questions:

  1. What are the key scientific principles that explain climate change including the greenhouse (blanket) effect?  The key principles explaining climate change involve understanding what processes keep the planet warm such as radiation, certain gases in the atmosphere (especially water vapour) and absorption/reflection of heat through different channels. It is important to be clear about the distinction between climate and weather.
  2. What are the key feedback mechanisms that help to explain why our climate is able to “self-regulate”? The three principle feedback mechanisms in climate regulation are water vapour, ice albedo and radiation. All of which interact in a range of positive or negative ways to regulate climate. An example of negative feedback would be ice albedo reflecting radiation back into the atmosphere.
  3. How can our climate be conceptualised as a system containing a series of components that interact with one another? There are five spheres or components that interact and contribute to the climate we experience. The atmosphere, the biosphere, the cryosphere, the hydrosphere and the lithosphere.

Also consider:

  1. What are the most important themes you have learned this week?  I think understanding climate systems and the difference between climate and weather have informed my viewpoint the most. It is the umbrella which everything goes under, including the blanket gases.
  1. What did you find most interesting? And why? The whole exercise has been interesting, stimulating and enjoyable. For me it is useful to have considered the difference betw een weather and climate as I was aware enough to argue there is a difference without fully appreciating what that difference is. I have much fuller understanding now. I like the way the IPCC report (in link) reiterated the difference between climate and weather, defining climate as ‘average weather’.
  1. Was there something that you learned this week that prompted you to do your own research?   Well yes, what on earth is a Mooc when it is at home? I found an article on Twitter this morning that explained ‘massive, open, online courses’ so I am in the picture now.
    1. Are there any web sites or other online resource that you found particularly useful in furthering your knowledge and understanding? Tweets from Carbon Brief on Twitter are usually very good about climate change. Linking up with other people doing the course is inspiring and a big factor in producing this blog to share information between us.

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