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CIVL 171 Climate change risk mitigation & adaptations Mon 0900 – 1020 Room 2502 Alexis Lau ( ) Tel: x6944 Rm 1001 (1 st Floor, Lift 4, above the clinic). Logistics. Two 1.5-hour lectures per week Instructor: Alexis Lau ( ) Short quiz and assigned readings

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CIVL 171Climate change riskmitigation & adaptationsMon 0900 – 1020Room 2502Alexis Lau ( x6944 Rm 1001(1st Floor, Lift 4, above the clinic)

  • Two 1.5-hour lectures per week
  • Instructor: Alexis Lau (
  • Short quiz and assigned readings
  • 1 project presentation (ind. / group)
  • 1 mid-term (T/F and MC)
  • 1 final exam (T/F and MC)
  • Course Style
    • Instructor and guest lectures
    • Assigned Readings
    • Audio-visual clips
    • Project based presentations / debates
major learning objectives
Major Learning Objectives
  • One of the biggest environmental threats facing the world is climate change. The Fourth Assessment Report (FAR) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) stated in its opening statement that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level”. Even the most conservative estimates suggest that we will not be able to avert the changes and a minimum 2deg C rise of temp by the end of the century. In layman’s term, we must adapt for the changes to come if Hong Kong is to continue as a coastal metropolis in Southern China.
major learning objectives1
Major Learning Objectives
  • Climate change is mainly caused by the accumulation of greenhouse gases from various anthropogenic processes and in particular the release of carbon dioxide because of our reliance on fossil-fuel to power our economy. CC impact ranges from shifting weather patterns (resulting in stresses on fresh water supply), global sea level rise, and more frequent and/or stronger storms (resulting in more frequent storm surges, coastal erosion and sea water intrusion). Engineers must play a leading role in responding to this threat by better understand and accurately estimate the risks, and then help develop and implement appropriate technologies to mitigate or adapt for CC.
major learning objectives2
Major Learning Objectives
  • This course first establishes the scientific basis for concern about climate change. Fossil fuel based energy systems are dominant contributors to greenhouse gas accumulation, and so the course will consider current energy supply and use systems. Important non-carbon alternatives will be explored. Key energy storage and transformation technologies will be investigated. Important technologies that can reduce end-use greenhouse emissions will also be explored, in particular those applied in buildings (lighting, appliances, and ventilation) and in transportation (hybrid-electric and fuel cell powered vehicles). Other mitigation technologies will also be discussed.
major learning objectives3
Major Learning Objectives
  • Adaptation must be a key part of our response to CC. The second part of the course focuses on identification of risks and possible mitigation / adaptation measures. Some of the major threats identified by the IPCC 2007 report include the diminishing fresh water supply in Asia, increasing global sea level, storm surges and coastal erosion for coastal areas. Coastal cities like Hong Kong must enhance its coastal defense, improve its drainage as well as the water storage and delivery system, re-examine its build environment with understanding of shortening return period of strong winds and floods, and develop plans for moving large number of people in emergence situations. All these will be discussed in the course, using local and regional examples as much as possible.
  • Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (2007). Climate Change - Fourth Assessment Report.
    • The Synthesis Report
    • Working Group I Report - The Physical Science Basis.
    • Working Group II Report - Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability.
    • Working Group III Report - Mitigation of Climate Change.
    • Summary for Policy Makers
    • Technical Summary
    • Full Report
  • Flannery, T. F. (2005). The weather makers: How man is changing the climate and what it means for life on Earth. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press.
content outline
Content Outline
  • Part 1 – Scientific basis and impact
    • Historical Overview of Climate Change Science
    • Changes in Atmospheric Constituents and in Radiative Forcing
    • Observations: Surface and Atmospheric Climate Change
    • Observations: Changes in Snow, Ice and Frozen Ground
    • Observations: Oceanic Climate Change and Sea Level
    • Couplings between Changes in the Climate System and Biogeochemistry
    • Climate Models and their Evaluation
    • Understanding and Attributing Climate Change
    • Global and Regional Climate Projections
    • Regional Perspective – Asia Pacific
content outline1
Content Outline
  • Part 2 – Risk, Mitigation and Adaptation
    • Key Vulnerabilities and Risk from Climate Change
    • Mitigation of Climate Change
      • Energy Supply
      • Transport and its infrastructure
      • Residential and commercial buildings
      • Industry
    • Mitigation from a cross-sectoral perspective
      • Sustainable Development and mitigation
      • Policies, instruments, and co-operative arrangements
    • Inter-Relationships between Mitigation and Adaptation
    • Adaptation Practices, Options, Constraints and Capacity
      • Fresh Water Resources and their Management
      • Coastal Systems and Low-Lying Areas
      • Build Environment, Settlement and Society
      • Ecosystems, their Properties, Goods and Services
      • Human Health
  • Course Website
      • Login: civl171 password: rm.2502
background alexis lau alau@ust hk
Background: Alexis Lau (
  • 1984 – BSc. Physics (Chinese U, Hong Kong)
  • 1986 – MSc. Physics (British Columbia)
  • 1991 – PhD. Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (Princeton)
  • 1991 – 1994 – University of Washington
    • ENSO and climate change
  • 1994 – Present – HKUST, currently Director, Env. Central Facility
    • Numerical Weather Prediction (1994-1997)
    • Air Quality Prediction (1997-1999)
    • Air Quality Analysis (1999+)
    • Air Quality Management (2003+)
    • Energy and Environment (2003+)
    • Climate Change and Sustainable Development (2006+)
  • Since Jan 2008 – Asso Prof., Civil and Environment Engineering
background students
Background: Students
  • Why this course?
  • What background do you have in
    • Physics
    • Chemistry
    • Computer
    • Air quality
  • Expectation - what do you want to get out of it?