Academic year
2023/2024 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
LMH350 (AF:440836 AR:244250)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Master's Degree Programme (DM270)
Educational sector code
1st Semester
Course year
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This course will provide the students with fundamental notions regarding Earth’s climate and its recent evolution, and basic understanding of its functioning. The students will become familiar with the terminology used in current climate research, and build confidence on communication of major topics within the current climate change discussion. Throughout the course, lectures will draw from iconic historical events (such as mass migrations, the discovery of the Americas, the Little Ice Age, the early 19th century famines and the year without a summer, the US megadroughts, the ozone hole) as motivation to explore fundamental processes operating in the Earth System that also crucially impact humanities. The course is qualitative, hence knowledge of physics and mathematics will not be considered as a prerequisite and will be only touched during the lectures.
basic understanding of the functioning of the climate system, familiarity with the terminology adopted in current climate research, confidence in the communication of climate change facts
This course is a required/elective course offered to students enrolled in the Master Degree in the Environmental Humanities. No prior background in the subject is required.
Section 1: definition of climate; concepts of radiative forcing and forcing agents (the Sun, greenhouse gases, aerosols), energy balance of Earth and energy transports (including convection). Section 2: climate sensitivity, climate feedbacks, large-scale circulation of the atmosphere, the ocean thermohaline circulation, sea ice. Section 3: from global to regional climates: modes of climate variability; monsoons; the Mediterranean climate; extreme events. Section 4: monitoring Earth’s climate, numerical climate models and the simulation of Earth’s climate, climate prediction and projection; chaos, intrinsic climate variability and uncertainty; geoengineering; the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and its assessment reports, Section 5: Venice and relative sea level rise: understanding changes in the instrumental tidal record and exploring possible future evolutions.
"Introduction to Climate Science" ebook by Andreas Schmittner (Oregon State University), also available online for free.
"Introduction to climate dynamics and climate modelling" freely available at:
Peixoto J.P., Oort A.H. Physics of climate, 1992, 520 pp.
IPCC-AR5 report and IPCC specific reports, available here:
oral exam on the topics of the lectures. Students are invited to begin with a presentation based on a scientific or divulgative article, or a piece of art (painting, movie, book,...) linked with climate physics, even in a hidden way. Examples will be proposed in class.
frontal lectures and discussions
Definitive programme.
Last update of the programme: 05/03/2023