About this Course
4.6
159 ratings
71 reviews
This class describes the science of global warming and the forecast for humans’ impact on Earth’s climate. Intended for an audience without much scientific background but a healthy sense of curiosity, the class brings together insights and perspectives from physics, chemistry, biology, earth and atmospheric sciences, and even some economics—all based on a foundation of simple mathematics (algebra)....
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Clock

Suggested: 4 hours/week

Approx. 52 hours to complete
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English

Subtitles: English
Globe

100% online courses

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Calendar

Flexible deadlines

Reset deadlines in accordance to your schedule.
Clock

Suggested: 4 hours/week

Approx. 52 hours to complete
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

1

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Overview

What you will find in this class. ...
Reading
1 video (Total 4 min), 4 readings
Video1 video
Reading4 readings
Resources10m
Debriefing Quizzes10m
Explainer Assignments10m
A Supplemental Class to This One10m

2

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

Heat, Light, and Energy

A primer on how to use units to describe numbers when describing temperature, energy, and light. Even if you don't plan on doing calculations yourself, understanding how units work will help to follow the rest of the lectures in the class. If you are interested in practicing your analysis skills, using units to guide calculations, there are some exercises in the Part II of this class. ...
Reading
6 videos (Total 28 min), 3 quizzes
Video6 videos
Units of Energy5m
Heat4m
Units of Light3m
Light5m
Blackbody Radiation6m
Quiz2 practice exercises
Optional Problems: How Much Coal to Run a Light Bulb4m
Optional Problems: Comparing Energy Prices16m

3

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

First Climate Model

The balance of energy flow, as incoming sunlight and outgoing infrared, allow us to create our first simple climate model, including a simple greenhouse effect. There are two extended exercises in Part II of this class, one an analytical (algebraic) model of the equilibrium temperature of a planet, the other a numerical model of how that temperature might evolve through time. ...
Reading
2 videos (Total 18 min), 4 quizzes
Video2 videos
The Greenhouse Effect 9m
Quiz4 practice exercises
Optional Layer Model Problem: How Hot is the Moon?4m
Optional Layer Model Problem 2: A Stronger Greenhouse Effect22m
Optional Layer Model Problem 3: Nuclear Winter2m
Quiz 122m

4

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Greenhouse Gases and the Atmosphere

The Layer Model above assumes that the pane of glass representing the atmosphere absorbs all of the infrared radiation that hits it and that it radiates at all infrared wavelengths. In other words, the layer model atmosphere is an infrared blackbody, but transparent in the visible. In reality, greenhouse gases are not "black" at all; they are very choosy about which frequencies of light they absorb and emit. This selective absorption of infrared light by greenhouse gases leads to the band saturation effect, which makes rare, trace gases like methane disproportionally powerful relative to higher-concentration gases like CO₂....
Reading
2 videos (Total 20 min), 1 quiz
Video2 videos
The Band Saturation Effect12m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Model Greenhouse Gases in the Atmosphere12m
4.6
Briefcase

83%

got a tangible career benefit from this course

Top Reviews

By SLOct 6th 2016

A great introductory course into Global Warming as well as modelling which gives you a better insight into what is actually happening with our planet. Started another course and it all fits in.

By APJun 13th 2016

Eye opening course, interesting content easily explained concepts and fantastic practice materials. Highly recommend this course to start creating conscience on issues affecting us all.

Instructor

David Archer

Professor
Geophysical Sciences

About The University of Chicago

One of the world's premier academic and research institutions, the University of Chicago has driven new ways of thinking since our 1890 founding. Today, UChicago is an intellectual destination that draws inspired scholars to our Hyde Park and international campuses, keeping UChicago at the nexus of ideas that challenge and change the world....

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Once you enroll for a Certificate, you’ll have access to all videos, quizzes, and programming assignments (if applicable). Peer review assignments can only be submitted and reviewed once your session has begun. If you choose to explore the course without purchasing, you may not be able to access certain assignments.

  • When you purchase a Certificate you get access to all course materials, including graded assignments. Upon completing the course, your electronic Certificate will be added to your Accomplishments page - from there, you can print your Certificate or add it to your LinkedIn profile. If you only want to read and view the course content, you can audit the course for free.

More questions? Visit the Learner Help Center.