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CLI2201 Climate Change and Variability

Semester 2, 2013 External Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Sciences
School or Department : Biological & Physical Sciences
Version produced : 21 July 2014

Contents on this page


Examiner: Joachim Ribbe
Moderator: Andy Le Brocque


A better understanding of the world's climate system is essential in order to achieve sustainable development of our natural environment and to appreciate the impact of future climate change and variability. Insight comes from the physical mechanisms that drive our climate and its variability and are underpinning the development and application of climate system models. This course is designed to provide students with a sound understanding based on physical principles into the functioning of the climate system.


The course discusses the underlying physical processes and mechanism that drive the world's climate system and future climate change. Students examine the architecture and design of climate models ranging from simple energy balance models to complex climate system models. Insight is provided into the phenomena of climate change and variability and past climates of the planet on regional and global scales are investigated in the context of presently observed climatic changes. The course highlights examples of climate change and variability and historical approaches to adapting to climate change and harnessing the opportunities that arise from projecting climate variability and its application to managing economic activities. Access to the internet is required.


On completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. describe general dynamics of the climate system on global scales;
  2. apply simple models based on physical processes of the climate system to study the response of climate to varying forcing;
  3. explain the physical processes that apply to the circulation of the ocean and atmosphere;
  4. describe non-seasonal climate mechanisms that lead to departures from anticipated climate pattern;
  5. describe the practical benefits of Climate Change and variability studies in areas such as agricultural climatology and applications;
  6. demonstrate an understanding of Climate Change forecasting.


Description Weighting(%)
1. The global climate system 20.00
2. Physical processes in the climate system 25.00
3. Physical models of the climate system 25.00
4. Climate Forecasting 10.00
5. Climate Change and Variability in Australia 20.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • IPCC 2007, Working Group I Report, "The Physical Science Basis",
  • Sturman, A P and Tapper, N J 2006, The Weather and Climate of Australia and New Zealand, 2nd edn, Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
  • American Meteorological Society, Abstracts and Table of Contents, Journal of Physical Oceanography.
    ((available through USQ Library's e-library).)
  • American Meteorological Society, Journal of Climate.
    ((available through USQ Library's e-library).)
  • Royal Metrological Society, International Journal of Climatology.
    ((available through USQ Library's e-library).)
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science, Science (available through USQ Library's e-journal library.).
  • Nature Publishing Group, NATURE GEOSCIENCE (available through USQ Library's e-journal library.).
  • Nature Publishing Group, NATURE (available through USQ Library's e-journal library.).

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Directed Study 52.00
Examinations 2.00
Private Study 115.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
EXERCISES 1-5 100 20 16 Aug 2013
EXERCISES 6-10 100 20 11 Oct 2013
2 HOUR RESTRICTED EXAM 100 60 End S2 (see note 1)

  1. Examination dates will be available during the Semester. Please refer to the examination timetable when published.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    It is the students' responsibility to attend and participate appropriately in all activities (such as lectures, tutorials, laboratories and practical work) scheduled for them, and to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks or a grade of at least C-. Students do not have to satisfactorily complete each assessment item to be awarded a passing grade in this course. Refer to Statement 4 below for the requirements to receive a passing grade in this course.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    If students submit assignments after the due date without prior approval then a penalty of 5% of the total marks gained by the student for the assignment will apply for each working day late up to ten working days at which time a mark of zero may be recorded. No assignments will be accepted after model answers have been posted.

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the weighted aggregate of the marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    Candidates are allowed access only to specific materials during a Restricted Examination. The only materials that candidates may use in the restricted examination for this course are: writing materials (non-electronic and free from material which could give the student an unfair advantage in the examination); calculators which cannot hold textual information (students must indicate on their examination paper the make and model of any calculator(s) they use during the examination). Students whose first language is not English, may, take an appropriate unmarked nonelectronic translation dictionary (but not technical dictionary) into the examination. Dictionaries with any handwritten notes will not be permitted. Translation dictionaries will be subject to perusal and may be removed from the candidate's possession until appropriate disciplinary action is completed if found to contain material that could give the candidate an unfair advantage.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Any Deferred or Supplementary examinations for this course will be held during the next examination period.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. The due date for assessments is the date by which a student must despatch an assignment to the USQ. The onus is on the student to provide proof of the despatch date if requested by the Examiner. Students must retain a copy of each item of assessment. This must be produced within 48 hours if required by the Examiner.

  2. Students who obtain an overall passing mark, but who do not perform satisfactorily in an examination, may, at the discretion of the examiner, be granted a supplementary examination.

  3. Harvard (AGPS) is the referencing system required in this course. Students should use Harvard (AGPS) style in their assignments to format details of the information sources they have cited in their work. The Harvard (AGPS) style to be used is defined by the USQ Library's referencing guide.