Climate Science

Course CodeBSC208
Fee CodeS1
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment
Plant Health and Growth are affected by Climate
Understand the climate, know the plants; match appropriate plants with the climate you have; and your success in horticulture will greatly improve.
This is why every gardener, horticulturist or land manager should study climate science. 

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Nature and Scope of Climatology
    • Introduction to climatology & meterology
    • Understanding how climate and weather affects us
    • What makes up our weather?
    • How do we measure weather?
  2. Weather Science Foundations
    • Solar Radiation
    • Temperature
    • Precipitation
    • Deposition
    • Humidity
    • Clouds
  3. Circulation Patterns
    • Pressure Systems
    • Atmospheric Pressure
    • Pressure and Temperature
    • Latitudinal Circulation
    • Air masses
    • Wind
    • Trade Wind
    • The Beaufort Scale of Wind Speed
    • Frontal Systems
    • Oceanic circulation
    • Longitutinal Circulation
    • Souther Oscillation
    • Ocean Gyres
  4. Climate Classifications & Patterns
    • Types of Climates
    • Arid/Desert
    • Subtropical
    • Tropical
    • Temperate
    • Mediterranean
    • Coastal
    • Factors Which Influence Climate
    • Latitude
    • Wind Direction
    • Topography
    • Altitude
    • Aspect
    • Geographical Location
    • Climates Classification Models
    • Koppen Climate Classification
    • Thornwaite Climatic Classification System
    • Bergeron Climatic Classification System
    • Spatial Synpotic Classification (SSC)
    • Other Global Classification Systems
    • Holdridge Life Zone System
  5. Atmospheric Dynamics
    • Introduction to Atmosphere Composition
    • Purpose of the Atmosphere
    • Seasonal Variations
    • Vertical Structure of Atmosphere
    • Precipitation
    • Precipitation Processes and Other Events
    • Cloud Dynamics
    • Storms
    • Thunderstorms
    • Cyclones, Typhoons and Hurricanes
    • Tornadoes
    • METAR Codes for Precipitation Processes
    • Aerosols and Climate Processes
    • Indirect Effects of Aerosols
  6. Climate Changes
    • Factors that Cause or Influence Climate Change
    • Natural Causes
    • The Sun
    • Earth's Orbit
    • Earth's Axis
    • Oceanic Circulation
    • Oceanic Carbon Dioxide
    • Magnetic Field
    • Plate Tectonics
    • Volcanic Activities
    • Asteroids, Comets or Meteorite Impact
    • Manmade Causes or Anthropogenic Influences
    • Fossil Fuels
    • Agriculture
    • Deforestation
    • Nitrous Oxide
    • Other Pollution
    • Different Types of Climate Change Events
    • Glaciation and Ice Loss
    • Flora and Fauna
    • Ocean Warming and Sea Levels
    • Permafrost
    • Extreme Weather Events
    • Ozone Depletion
    • Global Warming and the Greenhouse Effect
  7. Applications of Climate Science
    • Evolution of Methods and Techniques of Weather Forecasting
    • Early Methods & Simple Techniques
    • Modern Forecasting Approaches
    • Synoptic (Traditional) Forecasting
    • Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP)
    • Statistical Methods
    • Long and Short Range Forecasting
    • Understanding Forecasting Models
    • Simple Models
    • Tropical Cyclone Forecast Model
    • General Circulation MOdel (GCM)
    • Regionl Climate Modelling
    • Collection and Applications of Weather & Climate Data
    • Weather Mapping
    • Satellite
    • Radar
    • Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM)
    • Verification Methods
    • Methods of Standard Verification
  8. Climatology Problem Based Learning Project
    • Management Processes
    • Planning
    • Organising
    • Leading
    • Controlling
    • Business Plans - Preparing a Plan
    • Decision Making
    • What to Plan for
    • Risk
    • Risk Analysis
    • Ways to Manage Risk

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Learn About What Causes the Weather

Weather is never constant. It changes from day to day all over the world. The humidity, rainfall, temperature, light intensity and other factors are all affected by many different interacting factors, not just on the land, but also in oceans, lakes and rivers. 

This course provides you with an opportunity to understand all those factors that impact upon the day to day weather; which in turn affects where you live, work and play.

Longitudinal Circulation

Although latitudinal circulation is largely responsible for distributing heat around the earth, longitudinal circulation also plays an important. It occurs because water in the oceans has a higher heat capacity than land and so is able to absorb and release more heat, although the temperature changes are not as great as on land. 

This means that during the day the sea water absorbs more heat and has a lower temperature than land and so air cooled by the water passes towards land. At night, sea water releases more heat than land and the air flow heads from land to sea.  

The Pacific Ocean plays a significant role in the earth’s weather and is a completely ocean based cell. It is caused by temperature differences between the surfaces of the western and eastern Pacific waters.  Normally the eastern waters are cooler than the western ones.


Southern Oscillation (El Nino, La Nina Effect)

Throughout the year, Peru and Ecuador constantly receives the cold Peruvian currents that pass along its coast in a direction towards the north. As the end of each year approaches (around Christmas time), a warm counter-current called ‘El Nino’ flows southward along this coast and replaces the cold current. 

El Nino events last approximately 3 weeks each year. Every 3 to 7 years this event can be very significant in terms of drastic climatic changes across the Pacific Ocean, causing extreme climate oscillations and consequential weather events. When these events occur, there is a significant drop of pressure over the south-eastern coast of the Pacific Ocean and an equally intense increase in pressure over the south-western coast of the Pacific, creating pressure differences that sway back and forth until this event is over. Due to this oscillation type of movement, this event has come to receive its name as ‘Southern Oscillation’ or ‘El Nino Southern Oscillation’ (i.e. ENSO), producing sea levels to rise and lower on different ends of the Pacific Ocean coasts, which end up in floods (generally occurring in Peru and Ecuador) and droughts (generally seen in Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines).

Every 2 years of El Nino events, a weather phenomenon called ‘La Nina’ occurs. It is the opposite of El Nino and happens when surface temperatures over the eastern south Pacific are colder than usual. This occurrence produces a series of weather changes over the northwest Pacific, causing warming in some areas and extremes coolness in others. Along with this, La Nina also induces more hurricane appearances, precipitation and, in extreme cases, snow.


Ocean Gyres

In the Ocean, movements of currents are constantly flowing. These currents can occur on the surface of the ocean or below it and they can carry either large amounts or smaller amounts of mass water movements. The surface ocean currents are mainly created by the friction between the wind (e.g. trade winds, westerlies) and the surface of the ocean. Currents are not only formed purely by the winds, but they are also influenced by other factors such as the location of the earth’s landmass with respect to the masses of water, gravity, friction and the force of Coriolis. All this generates large circular whirls of water current moving throughout the ocean, most commonly referred to as gyres. 

There are 5 main gyres that occur in the ocean:

  • North Pacific Gyre
  • North Atlantic Gyre
  • South Pacific Gyre
  • South Atlantic Gyre
  • Indian Ocean Gyre

The North Pacific Gyre covers a main part of the North Pacific Ocean and is rated as the largest ecosystem on earth. As it is found in the north hemisphere, it rotates in a clockwise circular direction. The South Pacific Gyre, on the other hand, rotates anticlockwise as it is found in the southern hemisphere. In general, the rotation of each gyre will be influenced mainly by the Coriolis effect. Therefore, every gyre found north of the equator will be deflected to the right (clockwise) and every gyre found south of the equator will deflect to the left (anticlockwise).

Different currents move about each gyre, among which we can include: 

  • The North Equatorial Current, the Kuroshio Current, the North Pacific Current, and the California Current, which take approximately 6 years to complete the cycle within the North Pacific Gyre
  • The North Equatorial Current, the Gulf Stream, the North Atlantic Current and the Cool Canary Current, which take approximately 3 years to complete the cycle within the North Atlantic Gyre
  • The Antarctic Circumpolar Current, the Chile-Peru Current, the South Equatorial Current and the Eastern Australian Current are found within the South Pacific Gyre
    Antarctic Circumpolar Current, Benguela Current, South Equatorial Current and the Brazil Current are within the South Atlantic Gyre
  • The West Australia Current, the South Equatorial Current, the Agulhas Current and the South Indian Current all form the Indian Ocean Gyre