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Human induced climate change is arguably the most serious problem currently facing our planet. Detection and attribution of human induced climate change requires an understanding of the mechanisms of natural climate variability as well as trends in climate. Earth's climate is a coupled system between atmosphere, ocean, land surface, biota, snow and ice. Gaining an understanding of how our climate system works is an important first step to more confidently diagnosing and predicting the effects and impacts of human induced climate change. In this unit we will learn how Earth's climate works. We will begin to understand mechanisms underpinning important known natural climate variations such as El Nino Southern Oscillation and the Antarctic Oscillation. To achieve these ends, we examine global observations (in situ and by satellite) and learn about global climate models; consider detection and attribution techniques to discern human induced climate change above natural variability; and examine recent statements by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on human induced climate change.

Summary 2021

Unit name Our Changing Climate
Unit code KGA320
Credit points 12.5
Faculty/School College of Sciences and Engineering
School of Geography, Planning, and Spatial Sciences
Discipline Geography, Planning, and Spatial Sciences

Rebecca Harris

Teaching staff

Nick Earl

Level Advanced
Available as student elective? Yes
Breadth Unit? No



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About Census Dates

Learning Outcomes


Explain climate concepts relevant to our understanding of climate change


Describe the components of the climate system and their interactions and feedbacks


Evaluate spatial and temporal climate variability and trends using historical observations and simple climate model simulations


Evaluate the impacts of climate change on physical, biological and human systems


Present scientific information in a range of formats




  • (KGA204 - Earth, Climate and Life OR KGA209 - Biogeography and Climatology OR KSA205 - Introduction to Oceanography)


Mutual Exclusions

You cannot enrol in this unit as well as the following:


Teaching Pattern

2 x 1-hr lectures weekly, 10 x 3-hr practicals


AT1 Quizzes (20%)

AT2 Short essay questions (10%)

AT3 Data analysis (10%)

AT4 Group or individual presentation (20%)

AT5 2000 word essay (20%)

AT6 Take-home exam (20%)

TimetableView the lecture timetable | View the full unit timetable




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