Skagit Valley College logo

Catalog Course Search Details

 Course Title:   Earth's Climate & Climate Change

 Title Abbreviation:   CLIMATE CHANGE

 Department:    EASC

 Course #:    120

 Credits:    5

 Variable:     No

 IUs:    5.5

 CIP:    n/a

 EPC:    n/a

 REV:    2017

 Course Description  

An exploration of the Earth’s global climate system and the atmospheric, oceanic, solid Earth, biological and extraterrestrial controls on its stability and sensitivity. The causes of and evidence for global climate change as well as for climate forecasts will be examined in the context of societal and environmental impacts, and potential solutions. Lab included.


Prerequisite: Appropriate placement or grade of 2.0 or higher in ENGL 099.

Additional Course Details

Contact Hours (based on 11 week quarter)

Lecture: 44

Lab: 22

Other: 0

Systems: 0

Clinical: 0

Intent: Distribution Requirement(s) Status:  

Academic Natural Sciences  

Equivalencies At Other Institutions

Other Institution Equivalencies Table
Institution Course # Remarks
UW ATMS 211 ""Climate and Climate Change” No pre-requisite
WSU ENVR SCI 285 “The Science and Policy of Climate Change” ENVR SCI 101 pre-req.

Learning Outcomes

After completing this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Identify the Sun as the primary source of energy for Earth’s climate system.
  2. Explain some of the complex interactions among components of the Earth system that regulate the climate.
  3. Explain why life on Earth depends on, is shaped by, and affects climate.
  4. Describe how climate varies spatially and has varied over time due to both natural and man-made processes.
  5. Give examples of how our understanding of the climate system is improved through observations, theoretical studies, and modeling.
  6. Explain the physical basis for the greenhouse effect.
  7. Describe how, and the degree to which human activities are causing Earth’s climate system to change.
  8. Describe the consequences for the Earth system and human lives that climate change is having and is forecast to have.
  9. Be able to identify the action that humans can take to mitigate and adapt to climate change and its impacts.

General Education Learning Values & Outcomes

Revised August 2008 and affects outlines for 2008 year 1 and later.

0. Application and Integration

Definition: Applying information from one or more disciplines and/or field experiences in new contexts (Outcome 0.1); developing integrated approaches or responses to personal, academic, professional, and social issues (Outcomes 0.2-0.5).

Outcomes: Students will be able to . . .
0.4 Integrate concepts and analytical frameworks from multiple perspectives to develop one or more of the following: more comprehensive descriptions, multi-causal explanations, new interpretations, or deeper explorations of issues.
0.5 Analyze and reflect upon insights gained from integrating multiple perspectives in a purposeful project or experience.

5. Global & Local Awareness & Responsibility

Definition: Understanding the complexity and interdependence of, and stewardship responsibilities to, local and global communities and environments.

Outcomes: Students will be able to . . .
5.1 Understand the impact of their own and other’s actions on local/global communities and environments and how those communities/environments affect them in turn.
5.3 Understand the consequences of choices as they relate to local/global community and environmental issues.

8. Mathematical Reasoning

Definition: Understanding and applying concepts of mathematics and logical reasoning in a variety of contexts, both academic and non-academic.

Outcomes: Students will be able to . . .
8.2 Correctly apply logical reasoning and mathematical principles to solve problems.
8.3 Interpret information and reasoning expressed mathematically (for example in spreadsheets, diagrams, charts, formulas, etc.).

9. Scientific Literacy

Definition: Understanding scientific principles, and analyzing and applying scientific information in a variety of contexts.

Outcomes: Students will be able to . . .
9.3 Analyze, apply, and communicate scientific concepts and principles in context (for example, in technological, personal, and/or professional situations).

Course Contents

  1. Module 1: Climate of the Present
    • Earth’s Climate in the Context of the Earth System Atmospheric Structure, Composition & Circulation Controls on the Climate System What is the greenhouse effect? Atmospheric Interactions with the Other ""Spheres"" Global Hydrologic Cycle and Surface Water Balance Global Carbon Cycle, Sources / Sinks and Biological Controls Energy, Matter, and Momentum Exchanges Near the Surface General Atmospheric Circulation and Secondary Circulations Climatic Classification and Climate Differences Between the Hemispheres
  2. Climatic Variability in Earth’s past on geologic & human time scales
    • What evidence is used in paleo-climatic reconstructions? How have geological processes and the evolution of life and the atmosphere both driven and been effected by climate change? How has climate changed impacted human history and pre-history?
  3. Climatic Change and Variability Forecasts
    • What is the evidence that global climate change is occurring?
  4. Anthropogenic Climate Changes
    • How is the greenhouse effect being altered by human activities? How do we know that humans are the primary cause of global warming? What is the reality of sea-level rise?
  5. Linking Spatial and Temporal Climate Data
    • How do scientists project future climate?
  6. Applied Climatology, Climate Impacts, and Climatic Data
    • How does global warming affect our community? What is the latest word on climate change?