Climate Change: Earth System, Future Scenarios and Threats

"The course was very useful for my sphere of work. Prof Chris Kilsby and Prof Tom Wagner are wonderful teachers."

Climate Change: Earth System, Future Scenarios and Threats

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  • 28 November 2016
    (5 days)
  • Delegates are welcome to attend for selected days of the course, although we strongly recommend that they contact the Professional Development Unit for confirmation of the final timetable before booking, as course schedules are subject to amendment.

Climate Change: Earth System, Future Scenarios and Threats

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The course starts with the science of climate change, dealing with uncertainties and the major issues affecting our understanding of the climate system and its future behaviour. It then moves on to climate modelling, covering the development, underpinning science and limitations of global and regional models.

The latest approaches using ensembles, downscaling and weather generators are considered to provide the technical background of the latest UKCP09 national projections. Practical illustrations on how to generate and evaluate scenarios for real applications are then given, with hands on use of UKCP09 software. Delegates are encouraged to propose their own case studies in advance for the generation of future climate scenarios and impact assessment.

Delegates may choose to attend the full five day course or:

  • Days 1-2 Science of climate change
  • Days 2-3 Climate models
  • Days 4-5 Climate scenarios and applications

The course introduces and describes Earth's climate system with respect to past, present and future change, and describes climate modelling techniques and scenario outputs, with emphasis on threats to infrastructure and society, scenarios for engineering applications, and associated uncertainties.

The course covers the fundamentals of climate science, the earth system and the causes and evidence of climate change. This knowledge will explain how the earth system (natural and human) is affected by climate change. Past and present observed changes will be considered, and participants will learn how climate models work and the nature (and limits of our knowledge) of the future climate. Participants will then be well equipped to apply this and subsequent knowledge of their work. Crucially, they will have the ability to rebuff common myths and resolve confusion put forward by climate change deniers and the genuinely uninformed, so as to confidently pursue the sustainable engineering agenda.

Course Objectives

Upon completion, delegates will have an understanding of:

  • the fundamentals of the earth system and its climate: the grand cycles and feedbacks;
  • past and present evidence and nature of change and human impacts;
  • the principles and limits of climate modelling and specific engineering scenario techniques;
  • a broad knowledge of future changes and threats.

Delegates will also have gained the following skills:

  • the ability and confidence to pursue and promote climate change awareness agenda in professional settings;
  • the ability to select and apply suitable methods to develop future climate scenarios for engineering applications;
  • the confidence and understanding to use, and promote use of, climate scenario information.

Course Outline

  1. An overview of climate change - history, context: science vs engineering, evidence vs belief, vested interests and political aspects, aims of the course and roadmap.
  2. The earth system: the general circulation, atmosphere-ocean, cryosphere, greenhouse effect.
  3. The grand cycles: hydrological cycle, carbon cycle, biogeochemical cycles and linkages, CO2.
  4. Climate variability: Causes and signals, Milankovitch, ice ages, solar, volcanic, ENSO, NAO, Sahel drought etc..
  5. Past climate: palaeoclimates, proxies, non-instrumental records, climate reconstruction, implications for future.
  6. Anthropogenic forcing: enhanced greenhouse effect, sources and budgets of greenhouse gases, emissions scenarios, large scale land use changes, urbanisation, urban heat-islands.
  7. Observed changes: surface and atmospheric - temperature, rainfall, humidity, heatwaves.
  • Tutorial: session on climate myths covering paleo and current changes.
  1. Observed changes: rivers, flood, drought, groundwater, snow, ice.
  2. Observed changes: sea level and storms, hurricanes.
  • Practical 1: session on change assessment for key locations.
  1. Detection of anthropogenic changes: statistics of trend detection, attribution.
  • Practical 2: session on trend detection and attribution.
  1. Climate modelling (1): GCMs - history of development, IPCC DDC, how they work and limitations.
  2. Climate modelling (2): evaluation of models, CMIP4, uncertainty, ensembles (MME, PPE); UKCIP09,
  3. Climate modelling (3): downscaling, RCMs, statistical approaches.
  4. Climate modelling (4): weather generators, extremes.
  • Practical 3: session on generating engineering scenarios.
  1. Future climate projections (1): global and regional overview of main features.
  2. Future climate projections (2): review of threats: heat, water, sea level rise, ecosystems and food, society, health.

Update to course content

Please note that our courses are reviewed regularly, both in response to feedback and so that information about recent research and developments can be included. Thus, content may be subject to change.

Who is the course aimed at?

The course is aimed at those with an interest in understanding the latest science on climate change and those with a focus on applying the latest projections to examine climate change impacts. In particular, the course is invaluable to anyone interested in learning how to use the UKCP09 scenarios and the weather generator tool.


School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences


  • Climate Change: Earth System, Future Scenarios and Threats
    • 5 days: £1275
    • 4 days: £1020
    • 3 days: £765
    • 2 days: £510
    • 1 day: £255

We offer a 30 percent discount to full time students and to Newcastle University staff.

The course fee includes tuition, course materials, lunch and refreshments.

[ Information about Cancellations ]

Formal assessment may be available for this Course. Assessment attracts an additional fee of £350, and delegates will be issued with a transcript and Certificate of Credit Achieved. Owing to visa restrictions the assessment option is not available to international students outside the European Economic Area (EEA).

Academic Module Outline

This course is also delivered as a Module (code CEG8505) on at least one of the School's Masters programmes, the majority of which can be studied part time, making them suitable for those in employment. Delegates will attend with full and part time registered students. The Academic Module Outline is available via the University's Module Catalogue.

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Accredited by:
Accredited by Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management Climate Change: Earth System, Future Scenarios and Threats accredited by Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management

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