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Timewatch: StonehengeSunday, 29th March 2015 22:05 - BBC FourTwo of Britain’s leading archaeologists and world-renowned experts on Stonehenge, Professor Tim Darvill and Geoff... Read more: OU on the BBC: Timewatch - Stonehenge
Thinking Allowed: Global clothing and poverty, fur inheritance in PolandMonday, 30th March 2015 00:15 - BBC Radio 4
A History of Ideas - How do I live a good life?Monday, 30th March 2015 12:04 - BBC Radio 4
Kim Cattrall on Antony & CleopatraTuesday, 31st March 2015 04:40 - Sky Arts 1 HD
The Bottom Line - Corporate scandalAvailable until Saturday, 26th March 2016 14:15How do companies recover from negative press? Evan Davis hears from guests who have broken away from scandal on this... Read more: The Bottom Line - Corporate scandal
Turn your bank holiday into a badged holidayWhat are your plans for the long weekend? DIY? A trip to a windswept beach? Why not take your... Read more: Turn your bank holiday into a badged holiday
Take the photographic memory testCan you capture scenes just by looking at them? Find out with our photographic memory test. Launch now: Take the photographic memory test
Early years team work and leadershipThis unit explores aspects of teamwork and leadership for early years practitioners. Try: Early years team work and leadership now
Succeed with maths – Part 1[BETA] If you feel that maths is a mystery that you want to unravel then this short 8-week course... Try: Succeed with maths – Part 1 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
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.