Climate change

Lecturer(s): Pietro SALIZZONI, Louis GOSTIAUX, Richard PERKINS
Course ⋅ 16 hStudy ⋅ 12 h


While there is now a consensus that climate change is accelerating, there is still no agreement on measures to mitigate it. The reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases is occuring too slowly to prevent global warming. The consequences of climate change will therefore affect almost all aspect of our lives and they will have to be taken into account in projects in all fields of engineering. It will probably also be necessary to consider intervening directly in climate processes, at planetary scale, and various strategies have already been proposed. The objective of this course is to provide a general understanding of the physics of climate change and of the related issues. It will provide future engineers with the tools and knowledge necessaryto participate in this debate because engineering science is clearly an important component in many of the related problems.


Climate change, greenhouse gases, carbon, paleoclimatology, warming, oceans, atmosphere, meteorology, modeling, dynamical systems


Introduction: Definition of climate, main processes, evidence of recent climate changes Radiative transfers: Solar radiation, the atmosphere as a filter, aerosols and clouds Radiative forcing, Climate sensitivity, feedbacks Atmospheric and oceanic circulation Climate reconstruction: metrology, the history of the climate Carbon cycle: Mechanisms of carbon transfer, capture and storage in the climate system Climate modelling: assumptions, input data, results, sensitivity Possible scenarios: Influence of different processes, climate change Impacts: Meteorological, agricultural, economic, political Geoengineering: Approaches, reversibility, risks, consequences, practical difficulties.

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand the notion of climate, and the physical processes that contribute to its definition
  • Critically understand the factual elements available on climate changes
  • Understand how climate models are formulated, and on which assumptions and data they rely on
  • Identify the possible and probable consequences (physical, economic and political) of the climate change


Final mark = 50% Knowledge + 50% Know-how Knowledge = 100% final exam Know-how = 100% Reports on the 3 tutorials