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Welcome to AOS 101: Weather and climate. Discussion Session Lisha M. Roubert University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences. AOS 101 Discussion/lab. Instructor: Lisha M. Roubert Office 1449 AO&SS bldg

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Welcome toAOS 101: Weather and climate

Discussion Session

Lisha M. Roubert

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Department of Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences

AOS 101 Discussion/lab

  • Instructor: Lisha M. Roubert

    Office 1449 AO&SS bldg

    email: [email protected]

  • Office Hours: T 1:00-2:30PM

    W 2:30-3:45PM

    *or by appointment

  • Discussion Session Website


About you

  • Name

  • Email

  • Year

  • Major

  • Weather and Climate Topics that you are interested in.

Aos 101 discussion schedule

  • Hand in Homework

  • Review of last week

  • Start new topic and lab exercise

  • Discussion-everyone must participate!

Weather vs. climate

  • Get in groups and answer:

    Define weather

    Define climate

    Weather is what’s happening outside.

    Climate is a long-term average of the Weather.

How does climate differ from weather?

  • Weather- describes the state of the air at a particular place and time

  • Example: whether it is warm or cold, wet or dry, how cloudy or windy it is.

  • Weather events are bound by the variables that exist in Earth's atmosphere: temperature, air pressure, water vapor, the local amounts of and interactions between the variables, and how they change over time. 

How does climate differ from weather?

  • Climate- refers to the normal pattern of weather

    experienced in a particular area over a long

    period of time . The climate tells us how

    hot, cold or wet it is likely to be in different

    parts of the world at different times of year.

  • Example: tropical countries have hot climates and the Antarctic has a cold climate.

  • The climate of a location is affected by its latitude, terrain, and altitude, as well as nearby water bodies and their currents. 

How does statistics link weather and climate?

  • The entire reason we have "climate zones" is that the weather follows statistical patterns over decades in those regions.

  • We call "climate" the statistical trend of weather over long periods of time. We can statistically predict when the climate will be different.

How do we know if the climate will be different?

  • The weather will be different due to the effects of different modes of climate variability. This will cause a change in the general climate of a region.

  • A mode of climate variability is a pattern with identifiable characteristics that causes specific regional effects. 

  • Modes of climate variability are used by climatologists as indices.

  • El Niño and La Nina are examples of modes of climate variability. El Niño is characterized by unusually warm temperatures and La Niña by unusually cool temperatures in the equatorial Pacific.

How do we know if the climate will be different?

  • Three of the main things that cause the greatest effects on climate worldwide are:

    -the seasonal cycle: caused by the movement of earth around the sun

    -El Nino: it is caused by interactions between the atmosphere and the ocean

    -Thermohaline circulation (THC): moves water between the deep and surface ocean worldwide. The water moves mainly because of differences in density. Water that is more dense sinks below water that is less dense.

  • Among other modes of climate variability we know about are:

    -The Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO)

    -The North Atlantic oscillation (NAO)

    -The Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO)

    and many more.

The Thermohaline circulation or Global Ocean Conveyor

What approaches are used to study climate?

  • Past climate (Paleoclimate)-past climate is studied by using records such as:

  • -ice cores-the composition of air in

  • bubbles found in ice cores is

  • analyzed to determine how the

  • climate was in the past.

  • -tree rings- trees develop annual rings

  • of different properties depending on

  • weather, rain, temperature, CO2

  • concentration.

  • -geological proxy

What approaches are used to study climate?

  • Contemporary climate study-among the methods we have to study climate are:

  • Data records-meteorological data accumulated over many years (Example: records of rainfall, temperature and atmospheric composition.)

  • Climate models-models incorporate all the knowledge we have of the atmosphere and its dynamics. They can be used to demonstrate historic climate events, and also to forecast future events on the basis of information about the past. Climatologists can also manipulate their models to show how various changes can impact the future of the climate.

Map of the average temperature over 30 years. We can make these maps thanks to data records.

Climate models simulate the interactions of the atmosphere, oceans, and land surface so we can make predictions of future climate.


How will climate be approached in this course?

  • Statistical Analysis

  • You will learn to do different types of climate analysis on data in order to find trends that reveal information about the climate of the location under study. It is important that you learn to use Microsoft Excel!

  • Rotating Tank Lab

    - The rotating tank lab will be used occasionally to illustrate different climate concepts.

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