• Offered by Fenner School of Environment and Society
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject Environmental Science
  • Areas of interest Earth and Marine Sciences, Geography, Interdisciplinary Studies - Sustainability, Resource Management and Environmental Science, Environmental Studies

Biennial course. Not offered in 2015. Next offered in 2016

The atmosphere and climate are a critical part of the earth system, and climatic variability and change are central to the issue of current and future global environmental change. This course is directed towards developing deeper understanding of climatic variability and change, and their importance to the management of the global system. The course focuses on three related topics that highlight the functioning of the climate system, and the interactions between humans and the atmosphere, at a range of temporal and spatial scales.


Beginning at the mesoscale, human-atmosphere interactions in urban environments are investigated, including characteristics and impacts of urban climate modifications, air pollution potential and related issues, and the role of complex terrain in modifying the climate near the ground. The second topic explores regional-scale weather systems and the larger-scale interactions between the oceans and atmosphere that are a critical link in the functioning of the climate system at all scales. Ocean-atmosphere dynamics and interaction processes and their role in inter-annual and low frequency climate variability are considered in the context of current research on the El Niño Southern Oscillation and its impacts, and of long-term climate variation and change. Finally, the ways in which conceptual and dynamical models are used to develop our understanding of the climate system and climate change at all scales are studied. The focus is on understanding the uses and limitations of such models, and on interpreting their output in ways that are useful for policy formulation, decision making and management. Practical work is focused on the manipulation and interpretation of climatological data in the context of climatic variability and change, including observational data and model-generated future climate scenarios.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

On satisfying the requirements of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Critically analyse the interactions between the atmosphere and the surface (topography, vegetation, built structures), and apply this understanding in an environmental decision-making context.
  2. Apply an understanding of synoptic processes and the ability to interpret a range of graphical and visual data to the explanation of weather events and forecasting.
  3. Analyse and interpret the relationships between large-scale ocean-atmosphere processes and regional-local climates, using simple statistical techniques.
  4. Synthesise their understanding of climate processes at a range of scales to explain and critique the applications of climate modelling in research and policy contexts.
  5. Create an original piece of research on a self-selected topic, and communicate their results in oral and written formats.

Indicative Assessment

Students who fail to submit work by the due date or fail to participate in classes, practicals and tutorials may be excluded from examination. Assessment will be based on:

  • Tutorial facilitation on a topic relevant to course themes (20%; LO 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Major research report on a topic relevant to course themes (50%; LO 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Presentation on the topic of the research report (10%; LO 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Take-home examination (20%; LO 1, 2, 3, 4)

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


60 contact hours, comprising lectures, practicals and workshops/tutorials.

Requisite and Incompatibility

You are not able to enrol in this course if you have completed ENVS3013.

Preliminary Reading

Sturman, A.P. and Tapper, N.J. (2006) The Weather and Climate of Australia and New Zealand. Oxford University Press.



Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $3660
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $4878
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
8890 23 Jul 2018 30 Jul 2018 31 Aug 2018 26 Oct 2018 In Person N/A

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