September 2012 Archives

Link to Gray et al., 2003

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Hi everyone,

Emily let me know that I forgot to include one of this week's readings in the Dropbox download package. If you're still looking for Gray et al., 2003, the direct link to the paper on GRL's website is here.

As part of our discussion, I showed a brief segment from a NASA animation of the thermohaline circulation. The full clip showing the complete circuit is available right here.

The map of global CO2 flux was provided by NOAA's PMEL carbon program. The direct link to their flux maps is here.

Charge to discussion leaders

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To a significant degree, our success in GEOG8280 will depend on our ability to work together to summarize, evaluate and synthesize concepts and results from a diverse set of scientific articles. As discussion leaders, you are responsible for preparing a brief 'high-level' introduction to each of the assigned readings. This introduction (which will not take more than 5 minutes) should outline the most important aspects of the article. What was the motivation for the study? What data or tools did it use (observations, proxies or models)? What were its main findings (especially those that relate to decadal variability)?

You are not required to present the group with a detailed summary of each article (and if you try, I'll stop you).

I would generally prefer that you do not prepare extensive sets of slides in PowerPoint or Keynote. The only exception might be cases where you would like to show one or two results from another study not included in our weekly readings.

Questions are often the best way to get discussion started. I suggest that you prepare 2 or 3 questions for each article in advance of our class meeting. Your questions could either be 'big' or 'small', either addressing a specific or technical aspect of the study or connecting its findings to broader issues. To get you started, here are three examples of questions related to our first reading:

Garreaud, R.D. and Battisti, D.S. (1999), Interannual (ENSO) and interdecadal (ENSO- like) variability in the Southern Hemisphere tropospheric circulation. Journal of Climate 12, 2113-2123.
If the goal of this analysis is to study decadal and interdecadal variability, why is it necessary to deal with ENSO? How is decadal ENSO-like variability similar to ENSO? In what ways is it dissimilar? What impacts do the authors expect that decadal ENSO-like variability would have on the climate of North America?

You may need to look beyond our assigned readings. it may be helpful to examine the articles' supplementary information (if it has any) or to consult other articles on related topics.

Remember, you're only responsible for guiding discussion. You 're not required to create content to fill our entire 3-hour session.


The discussion leaders are responsible for getting things started. The rest of us are responsible to keep the discussion active and interesting. Read each paper closely so you understand its goals, approaches and main conclusions. If there are terms, concepts or data sources that you haven't been able to figure out on your own, present the problem to the group and we'll work through it together. None of us are experts on all aspects of the research we'll review through the semester but together we should be able to fill in gaps in our individual knowledge.

Be sure to always bring copies of the readings for each week. In my experience, having printed copies (with annotations) makes for better discussions, but I understand if you'd prefer to save paper (and money) by viewing the articles electronically.

Link to readings

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Hello everyone,

I've included all the readings listed on the syllabus (plus a few extra) in a single zip file, which I've uploaded to DropBox. You should be able to download the entire set through the following link, but if you run into any problems, please let me know.

Reminder - please post your definition of decadal variability to the course blog prior to to Thursday's class.

Best, Scott

Slides for Lecture 1

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If anyone would like to follow along with the slides for tomorrow's lecture, I've embeded the graphics down below. Just don't count on me being organized enough to post anything the night before class ever again. :)

One of the first challenges we need to address in this course is this: what do we mean when we use the phrases 'decadal variability' or 'the decadal timescale'?

As you'll see, there is not a strong consensus about the meaning of these terms. Often, scientists adopt their own definitions as it suits their particular research question. For our first exercise, I'd like you to present a brief (one or two-sentence) description of 'decadal variability' as defined by a particular source.

I'd like you to include your response as a comment to this blog entry. Please choose your own unique source that has not been cited by another student (so the earlier you complete this assignment, the more freedom you'll have to choose).

Please add your contribution prior to our second class meeting (9:30 AM on September 13). I'll get you started with the first entry!

Welcome to GEOG8280!

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Hello everyone and welcome to the 2012 Fall semester.

Decadal variability is a hot topic in climate sciences at the moment, as well as in several related disciplines. I'm excited to have the chance to work through the fundamentals of this behavior and talk about its potential implications for resources management and long-term planning.

I've attached the syllabus for the class, so please read it closely so you can decide whether this course fits your interests and schedule. I have also attached two readings that we'll discuss in our first meeting (the first is a classic paper from the early days of global climate science, and a second that describes the state-of-the science).

IMPORTANT REMINDER 1: This course has been rescheduled to Thursdays at 9:30AM to 12:30PM.

IMPORTANT REMINDER 2: We'll meet in 609 Social Sciences Tower.

IMPORTANT REMINDER 3: For our first meeting ONLY, class will begin at 10:30AM. For the next week and all meetings thereafter, we'll start at our regular time of 9:30AM.

Again, welcome to the course. I'm excited to get things started on Thursday.


GEOG8280 syllabus.pdf

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