The Open University since 2006
Alternatively you can skip the navigation by pressing 'Enter'.
All in the Mind - Autumn/Winter 2016: ADHD and Mind Wandering, Think Ahead, Shut Eye and Language of Mental HealthWednesday, 7th December 2016 15:30 - BBC Radio 4Claudia Hammond explores mind wandering in this week's programme. Read more: All in the Mind - Autumn/Winter 2016: ADHD and Mind Wandering, Think Ahead, Shut Eye and Language of Mental Health
The Secret History of Our Streets - London: Arnold CircusThursday, 8th December 2016 00:45 - BBC Four
Vienna: Empire, Dynasty and Dream: Episode 1: The Imperial City 1160-1683Thursday, 8th December 2016 21:00 - BBC Four
Colour: The Spectrum of Science: Episode 2: Colours of LifeThursday, 8th December 2016 23:00 - BBC Four
All in the Mind - Autumn/Winter 2016: ADHD and Mind Wandering, Think Ahead, Shut Eye and Language of Mental HealthAvailable for over a yearClaudia Hammond explores mind wandering in this week's programme. Read more: All in the Mind - Autumn/Winter 2016: ADHD and Mind Wandering, Think Ahead, Shut Eye and Language of Mental Health
The Secret History of Our Streets - London: Arnold CircusAvailable until Saturday, 7th January 2017 01:45
More or Less: Are you related to Edward III…and Danny Dyer?Available for over a year
Colour: The Spectrum of Science: Episode 1: Colours of EarthAvailable until Saturday, 31st December 2016 23:00
Remembering Gary SlapperWe're sad to report that Gary Slapper - founder of the OU Law School, visiting professor at The... Read more: Remembering Gary Slapper
Full Steam AheadIt’s Full Steam Ahead for historians Ruth Goodman, Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn as they bring... Read more: Full Steam Ahead
Dutch painting of the Golden AgeSeventeenth-century Dutch painting stands out from other art of the same period and even more so... Try: Dutch painting of the Golden Age now
Organisations and management accountingThis free course, Organisations and management accounting, examines the nature of organisations,... Try: Organisations and management accounting now
Climate change is a key issue on today's social and political agenda. This free course explores the basic science that underpins climate change and global warming.
After studying this course, you should be able to:
- understand the physical basis of the natural greenhouse effect, including the meaning of the term radiative forcing
- know something of the way various human activities are increasing emmissions of the natural greenhouse gases, and are also contributing to sulphate aerosols in the troposphere
- demonstrate an awareness of the difficulties involved in the detection of any unusual global warming ‘signal’ above the ‘background noise’ of natural variability in the Eath's climate and of attributing (in whole or in part) any such signal to human activity
- understand that although a growing scientific consensus has become established through the IPCC, the complexities and uncertainties of the science provide opportunity for climate sceptics to challenge the Panel's findings.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Global climate and the greenhouse effect
- 1.1 Introduction
- 1.2 What determines the Earth's GMST?
- 1.3 Energy flows within the Earth-atmosphere system
- 1.4 An overview of the global energy budget
- 1.5 'Radiative forcing' as an agent of climate change
- 1.6 The human impact on the atmosphere: the coming of the industrial age
- 1.7 Summary
- 1.8 End of section questions
- 2 What do we know about recent climate change?
- 2.1 Preamble
- 2.2 Records of the Earth's temperature
- 2.3 Contested science: a case study
- 2.4 The meaning of 'consensus': peer review and the IPCC process
- 2.5 A 'collective picture of a warming world'
- 2.6 An evolving consensus on attribution
- 2.7 Summary
- 2.8 End of course question
- Keep on learning
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
This course explores the topic of climate change and global warming. We will begin by exploring how the Earth's global mean surface temperature is determined through a global “balancing act” of the rate of energy that comes from the Sun and the rate at which the planet returns that energy into space. We will also discuss the natural greenhouse effect, and how this contributes to a balanced global climate. We will then go on to consider the human impact on the atmosphere, including the impact of industrialisation, other sources of greenhouse gases that are connected to humans and the numerous and varied means of measuring climate change that are available.
This OpenLearn course provides a sample of level 2 study in
This free course includes adapted extracts from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free The Environment courses or view the range of currently available OU The Environment courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Monday, 21st March 2016
Last updated on: Monday, 21st March 2016
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
- This site has Copy Reuse Tracking enabled - see our FAQs for more information.
If you enjoyed this, why not follow a feed to find out when we have new things like it? Choose an RSS feed from the list below. (Don't know what to do with RSS feeds?)
Remember, you can also make your own, personal feed by combining tags from around OpenLearn.
- Latest OpenLearn pages
- Latest pages from OpenLearn - The Environment
- Latest pages tagged - climate change
- Latest pages tagged - temperature
- Latest pages tagged - climate
- Latest pages tagged - projections
- Latest pages tagged - atmosphere
- Latest pages tagged - energy
- Latest pages tagged - S250_3
- Latest comments on this page
All our alternative formats are free for you to download, for more information about the different formats we offer please see our FAQs. The most frequently used are Word (for accessibility), PDF (for print) and ePub and Kindle to download to eReaders*.
- Word (3.7 MB)
- PDF (4.3 MB)
- ePub 3.0 (2.9 MB)
- ePub 2.0 (2.9 MB)
- Kindle (1.3 MB)
- RSS (509 KB)
- HTML (2.6 MB)
- SCORM (2.6 MB)
- OUXML Package (65 KB)
- OUXML File (209 KB)
- IMS Common cartridge
- Moodle backup (2.2 MB)
*Please note you will need an ePub and Mobi reader for these formats.