Course Syllabus

ATMS 211 Climate and Climate Change

Spring 2018



Professor Thornton

TA Xiaojuan Liu


508 ATG Building

420 ATG Building**


Please see us for questions or concerns about the course. Conceptual issues are best handled in person, after lecture, during office hours (TBD) or by special appointment.


Professor Thornton's Office Hours: 

Tuesdays 9:30 - 10:30 AM and Thursdays 3:30 - 4:30 PM in 508 ATG building

Xiaojuan's Office Hours: 

12:30 - 1:30 PM, Monday and Tuesday


Assignments are due at the start of class, no late assignments will be accepted without prior permission. The same goes for exams.

             4 Short (~20-30 min) Exams: 60%

            1 Comprehensive Final Exam: 25%

            Homework Assignments: 15%

We (professor and TA) assume that you will abide by an honorable code of academic conduct, guidelines for which can be found in the student handbook (WAC 478-120-020 [2]) available online via the Faculty Resource on Grading. If we suspect you of having plagiarized material for homework or research projects, or cheated on an exam, we will give you the option of taking a zero grade on that assignment/exam, doing a similar assignment/exam, or referring the case to the Dean’s Representative.

Extra Credit

By answering questions posed in lecture, correctly or incorrectly, using the Poll Everwhere software (requires phone, or laptop), you will receive extra credit added to your midterm exam scores. That’s right, you’ll get credit just for trying!

Here’s how it will work. If you answer all clicker questions over the course of the quarter correctly, we will replace your two lowest midterm exam scores with a perfect score. If you answer all clicker questions incorrectly, we will replace your lowest midterm exam score. Outside of these two options, we will use a linear extrapolation, e.g., if you answer all questions, but half correctly and half incorrectly, you would get 1 perfect midterm and the difference between your existing score and a perfect score on another midterm.

 Required Course Materials

 1. Textbook

The Earth System 3rd Edition (2010): by Kump, Kasting, and Crane, Prentice Hall

We will meander through the text, so pay attention to assigned readings and come to class!


Available at UW Bookstore. If you have trouble purchasing these please see me!

 Course Outline (subject to change)





Week 1

Introduction: weather vs climate, environmental change concepts, systems and system science

 Chapter 1

Reading 1

Homework 1

 Lecture Notes and Visuals part a and part b





Week 2

Feedbacks, Daisy World, Energy

 Chapter 2 - 3

 See Panopto Videos and

Lecture 4




Week 3

The Greenhouse Effect and the Atmosphere

 Chapter 3

Lecture 1

Lecture 2

Lecture 3


 Exam 1, likely Monday after week 3



Week 4

Atmospheric Circulation

 Chapter 4

Lecture 1

Lecture 2

Lecture 3

Lecture 4


Exam Due Monday April 23



Week 5

Atmosphere-Ocean Couplings 

 Chapter 5

Lecture 1

Lecture 2

Lecture 3

Lecture 4

Week 6

Ocean Circulation, El Nino, Natural Climate Variability


Lecture 1

Lecture 2

Lecture 3

Lecture 4


Tentative Exam (likely Monday after week 6)



Week 7

CO2 Comings and Goings: the global carbon cycle, short and long

 Chapter 8

Lecture 1

Lecture 2

Lecture 3

Lecture 4 




Week 8

Natural Climate Variations of the Past

 Chapter 12 and 14

Lectures 1-2

Lecture 3

Lecture 4


Tentative Exam (likely Monday after week 8)



Week 9

Unnatural Changes: global warming 

 Chapter 15 - 17

Lecture 1

Lecture 2

Lecture 3

Lecture 4





Week 10

Global Warming: Impacts, Mitigation Plans and Ploys

 Chapter 15-17



Course Summary:

Date Details