A comprehensive analysis of all the components of the climate system (atmosphere, ...
A comprehensive analysis of all the components of the climate system (atmosphere, ocean, ice sheets, etc) and of all the interactions between them is out of the scope of any course or book. We have thus chosen here to provide only a brief overview of the processes that rule the behaviour of those different components. More detailed descriptions are provided in meteorology, oceanography and glaciology courses for instance. Our first goal here is rather to provide enough information on the interactions between the different elements of the climate system and on the dominant feedbacks to allow the student to analyse the variability of the climate and its response to a perturbation. By this mean, the reader should be able to understand the dominant causes of past climate changes and to critically evaluate the projections of the climate change over the next centuries or millennia.
Because of the complexity of the climate system, many analyses devoted to a quantitative estimate of climate change or climate variability rely on the use of comprehensive three-dimensional numerical models. However, simple models are also widely used to underline clearly the fundamental properties of the climate. Our second goal is thus to give the student the bases to understand how climate model are built and how they could be used to make quantitative estimate of climate variability and climate change as well as to illustrate how models could be used to understand the most important concepts of climate science.
This digital textbook was reviewed for its alignment with California content standards.