The Climate System

The Earth’s climate system is complex and dynamic, and a solid understanding of this system is crucial in order to address concerns about human influences on climate. In this course we examine the basic physical and chemical processes that control the modern climate system, including the role of incoming solar radiation, the greenhouse effect, ocean and atmospheric circulation, and El Niño. We also look at the methods and archives used to reconstruct climate in the past. We explore the possible effects of greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans on modern and future climate by examining the models used in climate prediction, and discuss the challenges of modeling such a complex system. Although this course is taught from a primarily scientific perspective, it includes discussions of the roles policy and economics play in the current dialogue on global climate change. Finally, we look at some of the local impacts of climate change and preparedness planning for New York City.

Course Code: RS 201j

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.