from The Open University
Alternatively you can skip the navigation by pressing 'Enter'.
Catching History's Criminals: The Forensics Story: Traces Of GuiltSaturday, 28th November 2015 23:00 - BBC FourAs Gabriel Weston discovers: every contact leaves a trace... Read more: Catching History's Criminals: The Forensics Story: Traces Of Guilt
The Hunt: Episode 4: Hunger at SeaSunday, 29th November 2015 16:50 - BBC One
Ireland with Simon Reeve: Episode 2Sunday, 29th November 2015 20:00 - BBC Two
Power to the People: Episode 3: The Customer is Always RightTuesday, 1st December 2015 21:00 - BBC Four
Catching History's Criminals: The Forensics Story: Traces Of GuiltAvailable until Tuesday, 29th December 2015 00:00As Gabriel Weston discovers: every contact leaves a trace... Read more: Catching History's Criminals: The Forensics Story: Traces Of Guilt
BBC Inside Science: Astronomy Q&A, CERN and ancient genomesAvailable for over a year
All in the Mind: Mindfulness, porn addiction and slothfulnessAvailable for over a year
Power to the People: Episode 2: It's Not Easy Being GreenAvailable until Friday, 25th December 2015 04:00
Star Wars VII: Myth and fairy taleWhat storytelling styles and genres can be applied to Star Wars. Sarah Haslam investigates... Read more: Star Wars VII: Myth and fairy tale
OpenLearn Live: 27th November 2015The oldest parish in Ireland - then more free learning through the day. Read more: OpenLearn Live: 27th November 2015
Introduction to cyber securityThis free course, Introduction to cyber security, will help you to understand online security and... Try: Introduction to cyber security now
English: skills for learningThis course is for anybody who is thinking of studying for a university degree and would like to... Try: English: skills for learning now
Climate change is a key issue on today’s social and political agenda. This unit...
Climate change is a key issue on today’s social and political agenda. This unit explores the basic science that underpins climate change and global warming.
Having studied this unit you should:
- 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;
- be aware 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 unit question
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn and track your progress. Make your learning visible!
This unit 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 unit is an adapted extract from The Open University course Science in context (S250). If you want to study formally with us, you may wish to explore other courses we offer in.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Tuesday, 26th July 2011
Last updated on: Friday, 12th October 2012
- 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 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.