Spring 2019: Introduction to Climate Science



These course guidelines are what this course is all about. Please read them very carefully.

COURSE SYNOPSIS: Introduction to Climate Science examines the scientific evidence and real-world consequences of human-caused climate change in the context of past climates (e.g., Ice Ages, Hothouse Earth), current climate conditions, and climate model projections in the short- (next 20-50 years) and long-term (next 100s to thousands of years). The course emphasizes learning-by-doing, that is, it emphasizes activities that engage the student in the course materials, and in exploring solutions to reduce the magnitude of future warming. The course invites discussion among your classmate and instructor and in exploration of climate science from a multitude of perspectives.

MY TEACHING PHILOSOPHY: 1) Put students first; 2) Always be prepared; 3) Never give up, never surrender. 4) Inspire wonder. 5) Make a difference. I promise to do my best to follow these principles every day.

WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM ME: Like most instructors, I am human, so you can expect that there will be times when I am bitchy, grouchy and gruff. For that, I apologize profusely. But otherwise, you can expect that I will do my best to make the course content fun and exciting, to respond to your emails and inquiries within 24 hours, to be fair and respectful, to try to accommodate your speed bumps, and to help you succeed in the course and in life. Sometimes that means cracking the whip, but know that my intention is to help you overcome those human tendencies towards procrastination, laziness, and slothfulness, not because of a secret desire to be Cartman.

WHAT I EXPECT FROM YOU: 1) A desire to learn because you understand the importance of education to your family, your future, and your happiness; 2) The motivation to learn how to learn because knowing how to learn secures your place in the world as a skilled and thoughtful and independent human being; 3) Respect towards me and your classmates because everyone is doing the best they can given their level of awareness, because not everyone has had the same opportunities in education and life, and because a world in which people respect each other is a kinder, safer, and more beautiful place to live and love. I hope you will do your best to follow these principles, learn from them, and make them a part of your life.

COURSE DIFFICULTY: Many of my students find the material in this course very difficult. But, by taking this course and successfully passing it, my students are prepared for anything they take at a four-year college and beyond. The skills and ways of understanding learned in this course can be applied to your career and your personal life. Adopting successful habits of mind and learning how to learn anything are key outcomes of my approach to teaching. And challenging students to be all that they can be is my sworn duty.

ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS: All students must attend the first day of classes or they will be dropped as a no show. Any student who misses more than three class sessions, or who fails to log into Canvas for more than two weeks–consecutive or non-consecutive–may be dropped for non-participation. Email me if you miss class or are going to miss class and I’ll work with you.

DROP POLICY: It is the responsibility of the student to drop the course regardless of attendance requirements. Do not rely on your professor to drop you for any reason. Failure to drop a course may result in a failing grade (F) for the semester.

STUDY REQUIREMENTS: Students may expect to spend 9-12 HOURS PER WEEK COMPLETING WORK IN THE CLASSROOM, IN CANVAS AND OUT OF THE CLASSROOM STUDYING for this course. This time includes time you spend in the classroom and the recommended study time for a 3-unit course. Students are urged to review the suggestions provided in the FC Course Catalog concerning workload and class load. Consider reducing your work hours, spending less time with friends and family, limiting social media time, and other time-management strategies that will help you find time to study. You can find time if you use time wisely.

Recommended Weekly Schedule for Effective Learning and Course Success

Days 1-4: Form Your Learning Days 5-6: Assess and Improve Your Learning Day 7: Regenerate Your Brain, Body, and Spirit
  • Log in to Canvas and review list of reading and viewing in Weekly Module.
  • Chunk materials into time slots that fit your schedule, i.e., plan when you will study for the week.
  • Start reading/studying and watching/studying.
  • Ask questions in class!
  • Go back over reading materials and videos.
  • Post a cry for help on the student discussion board.
  • Email the instructor with your questions.
  • Review instructor feedback on previous week’s assignments.
  • Create, review and/or revise self-created study guide for upcoming exam.
  • Review other students’ questions and comments.
  • Assess your weekly progress.
  • Catch up on sleep. Your brain makes new learning connections when you sleep.
  • Get some exercise. Exercise does a brain, body and spirit good.
  • Read a good non-academic book, binge watch a favorite TV series or watch a good movie. Imagination stirs the soul.
  • Spend time with friends or family. Live, love and laugh for a blessed and rewarding life.
  • Take a social media/smartphone break. A real world awaits you beyond the black mirror!

LATE WORK: I don’t accept late work for any reason. Having worked in the business world for several years, I can assure you that showing up on time and submitting work on time is expected. Timeliness is next to godliness.

ACADEMIC HONESTY/COLLEGE POLICIES: All college, district, state and federal policies, guidelines and regulations apply to this course. The Fullerton College Catalog and the Class Schedule contain a number of important policies and guidelines. Check them out. You may purchase copies of these publications at the campus bookstore, or you may read them online at the Fullerton College website, http://www.fullcoll.edu/catalog. Students are urged to review the FC Catalog policy on Academic Honesty. If you are caught cheating, you will receive a zero for that assignment or exam. Repeated offenses have stronger penalties.

AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA) STATEMENT: Fullerton College is committed to providing educational accommodations for students with disabilities upon the timely request by the student to the instructor. Verification of the disability must also be provided. The Disability Support Services office functions as a resource for students and faculty in the determination and provision of educational accommodations.

FULLERTON COLLEGE CATALOG AND CLASS SCHEDULE: The Fullerton College Catalog and the Class Schedule contain a number of important policies and some great tips on studying. Please browse or read these publications for the parts that are important to you. You may purchase copies of these publications at the campus bookstore, or you may read them online at the Fullerton College website. Current Schedule: http://www.fullcoll.edu/class-schedule. College Catalog: http://www.fullcoll.edu/catalog

STANDARDS OF STUDENT CONDUCT AND DISCIPLINE POLICY: As cited in BP5500, “A student who violates the standards of student conduct shall be subject to disciplinary action including, but not limited to, the removal, suspension or expulsion of the student.” The standards of student conduct and disciplinary action for violation of Board Policy 5500 were approved by the NOCCCD Board on January 28, 2003, and were drawn in compliance with Sections 66300, 76030, 76033, 76034, 76036 of the State Education Code. Students are expected to respect and obey civil and criminal law and shall be subject to the legal penalties for violation of the city, county, state, and national law(s). Student conduct must conform to Board Policy and college regulations and procedures.

As noted above, students have an obligation to familiarize themselves with the College’s policies, rules and regulations and to conduct themselves in a reasonable, respectful manner, which is conducive toward attaining their educational goal. Upon registration, each student should obtain a copy of the College Policies and Regulations: Standards of Student Conduct and Discipline Policy. Contained therein are the policies approved by the Board of Trustees governing student behavior and the applicable penalties for violations of these policies. Copies are available in the Student Affairs Office, the Office of Equity and Diversity, all division offices, and the Student Services office.

EMERGENCY RESPONSE STATEMENT: An earthquake or extreme weather event may happen at any moment. Take note of the safety features in and around where you complete your work. Note the posted evacuation routes. During strong earthquakes, it is recommended to duck beneath a desk, cover your head with your hands, and hold on to your ass until the quaking stops. Running out of a building during an earthquake can be deadly. Didn’t you hear “The Rock” in San Andreas?

UNDECIDED ON A MAJOR? Why not pursue a career in Oceanography, Meteorology, Geology, or Earth Science? You may be amazed at the opportunities for students in this field. If you are interested in business, technology, computers, working with machinery, public relations, marketing, law, physical fitness, medicine, health and just about any other subject, we need you! All that’s required is a passion for the ocean. Just ask me.


Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

Define the major terms and explain the major concepts of climate science
Interpret and apply quantitative information, including climate maps, graphs, and tables of data.
Use the terms and concepts of climate science to communicate local and global issues of climate concern.


Our textbook for the course this semester is the 7th or 8th edition of Essentials of Meteorology: An Introduction to the Atmosphere, by C. Donald Ahrens and published by Cengage Learning (2014, 2017). The 8th edition will provide more up-to-date information, especially in the climate change chapter, but may cost you slightly more.

This textbook is essential for the course. We will use the book in class and you will be required to bring your book to class. Please do not attempt the course without a book. The textbook is available for sale or rent through the Fullerton College bookstore, http://bookstore.fullcoll.edu, and other vendors.

The covers of the book look like this:

Cover of Essentials to Meteorology 7th Edition

7th edition (above)

Cover of Essentials to Meteorology 8th Edition

8th edition (above)


This course uses Canvas as a Learning Management System (LMS) to provide announcements, lecture notes, grades, and other materials and assessments related to the course. All students are expected to log in at least 2-3 times per week to adequately prepare and study for materials covered in class.

You may gain access to Canvas through the link on MyGateway. Once logged in, go to the Fullerton tab, scroll down to the Canvas icon, and click on it for your Canvas dashboard. If you are experiencing difficulties logging in through MyGateway, go to http://fullcoll.instructure.com. Login using your MyGateway credentials (with no @sign in front of the Banner id.)

Occasionally, you may experience problems with Canvas. Just be patient, contact me immediately, and I will work to solve your problem. Do your work often and early just in case.

If you’re having difficulty, or just want to know more about Canvas, you may also try try this website: https://guides.instructure.com/


Email remains the most efficient and effective tool for modern communication between humans. Email is the preferred communications tool of businesspersons, scientists, artists and many other professionals. Developing good email skills and habits can boost and accelerate your career. So please follow these guidelines:

  • Please send all e-mail correspondence through Canvas or to exploreworldocean@gmail.com, a special gmail account just for students. When you send me e-mails, please always type a SUBJECT for your e-mail (like “Help”, “a quick question”, question about exam”, etc). E-mails with untitled subjects often end up in the spam folder.
  • ALWAYS put your FULL NAME, COURSE (Climate Science, Oceanography, or Weather and Climate), and CRN (see above) as the first line of all e-mails.
  • To develop good habits, start all emails with “Dear Professor.”
  • Please explain your question/problem/issue in full. The more information you provide, the faster I can answer/solve/resolve your issue.
  • To develop good habits, always sign your emails with your complete name as it appears in the official college records.
  • If you don’t hear back from me in 48 hours, please send your email again.
  • Please avoid sending email to my fullcoll address. I get a lot of junk at this address and it’s not always easy to spot important emails from students.

You may also correspond with me through the Announcements tool, the Discussion Board, the Assignments Tool, the Chat Room or online Conferencing Tool (Zoom).


I welcome visits from students during my office hours! For best results, however, please make an appointment using SignUp Genius.

My office, Room 411-02, is located in the 400 building on the east side of the Quad. Upon entering the 400 building, take a right then another right and then a left. I am the first door on the right.

Campus office hours are Mondays and Wednesdays, 11:30-1:30p, and Tuesdays, 12:45-2:15.

If you need to see me outside of these times, please email me. I will do my best to accommodate you.


The goal of college is to prepare yourself for a successful life and a career beyond college. In taking this course, you are being trained to master an unfamiliar knowledge set, to apply what you learn in new situations, to think about competing possibilities, and to articulate your rationale for choosing a particular way of thinking.

Your final grade in this class is based on your ability to learn and understand the course materials and to meet the learning outcomes for this course. A number of tools will be provided for you to learn the materials, obtain the knowledge, and develop the understandings to meet these outcomes. Not all of the available tools earn you points but you can bet that if you spend time learning about the ocean, you are going to be successful in point-earning assignments. Some of these tools will help you form your knowledge (formative assessments). Other tools will assess what you have learned (summative assessments).


This course primarily uses active learning as a tool for helping you to master terms and concepts, gain skill at reading maps and graphs, and sharpen your critical thinking to better understand human-caused climate change. In the classroom, you will engage in fun and instructive activities with classmates; use iPads to take quizzes and surveys, watch videos, or complete worksheets; make simple measurements using probeware (thermometers, salinometers, pH meters, etc.); and practice techniques for extracting information from and understanding content in books, journals, and webpages (i.e., science literacy). Of course, we’ll also watch videos, too, because videos make science come alive in a way that still images cannot convey.

In and out of class, you’ll also use Canvas to access lecture notes and lecture slides, watch videos, complete short answer assignments, take practice quizzes, and prepare for exams. Canvas provides a learning environment outside of the classroom that allows you to reinforce what you learn inside the classroom. Learning happens best when you engage in the material frequently for short periods of time. Canvas is perfect for that.

You are invited and encouraged to work ahead. Find a schedule and pace that works for you. Do your best to do a little bit each day. You’re life will be less stressful and you’ll thank yourself in the end if you keep up with (or even ahead of) the work!


Students who are actively engage in the classroom learn more, spend less time out of class studying, and lead more fulfilling and successful lives.

You are required to attend every class during the semester. Attendance will be taken every class.

Each class you attend will earn you 4 points for a maximum of 100 points. Participation is worth 20% of your final grade.


Exams assess your ability to identify, define, and use vocabulary from lectures, textbook readings, in-class work, out-of-class work, YouTube lectures, or other study materials. Exams assess your ability to draw and/or interpret maps, graphs, and tables and solve equations covered in lectures, textbook reading, in-class work, out-of-class work, YouTube lectures, or other assigned materials. Exams assess your understanding of concepts and your ability to apply and communicate what you have learned.

You will take two campus exams worth 100 points each and an online final exam worth 200 points on the dates listed in the syllabus below. A scantron will be provided to you for the campus exams but you will need a pencil (or two) and an eraser. Exams will be a mix of multiple choice, matching, short answer, calculations, map/graph interpretations, and essays. New exams will build on previous exams.

Campus exams will be graded and scores returned within a week of the exam.  Scores for the online final exam will be available 2-3 days after the due date.

Exams are worth 80% of your final grade (400/1000).


Participation: 100 pts
Campus Exams: 200 pts
Online Final Exam: 200 pts


The course is based on 1000 points.

A = 85%; 850 pts and above
B = 75%; 750-849 pts
C = 65%; 650-649 pts
D = 55%; 550-649 pts
F = <55% <550 pts


Many students often want a very well-defined, narrow list of things they need to know. That’s understandable as, unfortunately, most students just want to get through college with as little effort as possible. But would you want a doctor or lawyer or auto mechanic who “just learned the minimum?” Would you want a school teacher for your children who teaches your children wrong facts and ideas? When the barista at Starbucks ignores you, or the window clerk at McDonald’s gets your order wrong, doesn’t that irritate you just a little?

The purpose of college is to give you a better life and to improve the lives of the people around you, your family, friends, neighbors, and fellow Americans. College expands your mind, exposes you to new ways of thinking, makes you aware of knowledge and ideas beyond your wildest imagination, teaches you to learn how to learn and be prepared for any challenge, opens doors to new opportunities.

I hope that you are here to enrich your mind and your life to the fullest extent possible. Take the attitude that “I want to learn as much as I can” and you will be amazingly successful not just in this course, but in all of your college courses and life. Remember the adage, “Your life is what your thoughts make it.”


No extra credit is offered for the course. Focus on your studies and you won’t need extra credit.


Week # Date Major Topics Weekly Course Readings & Viewings Assessments
1 Tuesday, 1/29 Climate 101: The Earth’s Atmosphere Chapter 1, Earth’s Atmosphere
Thursday, 1/31 Climate 101: The Earth’s Atmosphere Chapter 1, Earth’s Atmosphere
2 Tuesday, 2/5 Climate 101: Warming the Earth and the Atmosphere Chapter 2, Warming the Earth and the Atmosphere
Thursday, 2/6 Climate 101: Warming the Earth and the Atmosphere Chapter 2, Warming the Earth and the Atmosphere
3 Tuesday, 2/11 Climate 101: Warming the Earth and the Atmosphere Sensible and Latent Heat/Heat Transfer Lecture Notes
Thursday, 2/13 Climate 101: Warming the Earth and the Atmosphere Electromagnetic Radiation and Greenhouse Effect Lecture Notes
4 Tuesday, 2/19 Climate 101: Air Temperature  Chapter 3, Air Temperature
Thursday, 2/21 Climate 101: Air Temperature Chapter 3, Air Temperature
5 Tuesday, 2/26 Climate 101: Natural Climate Patterns Chapter 12, Global Climate
Thursday, 2/28 Exam One Weeks 1-5 Exam One
6 Tuesday, 3/5 What Is The Evidence For Climate Change? GISS Temp
Thursday, 3/7 What Is The Evidence For Climate Change? Documentary: Chasing Ice
7 Tuesday, 3/12 What Is The Evidence For Climate Change? Chapter 4: Water Cycle and Humidity, pp 84-97;
Chapter 5, Precipitation Types, pp 141-152
Thursday, 3/14 What Is The Evidence For Climate Change? PBS: Ellicott City Rising (2016)
8 Tuesday, 3/19 What Is The Evidence For Climate Change? Chapter 11, Hurricanes
Thursday, 3/21 What Is The Evidence For Climate Change? NOVA: Rise of the Superstorms
9 Tuesday, 3/26 What Is The Evidence For Climate Change? Tides and Sea Level Lecture Notes
Thursday, 3/28 What Is The Evidence For Climate Change? Sinking Cities: Miami
10 Tuesday, 4/2 How Do We Know Humans Are Causing Climate to Change? Chapter 13, The Earth’s Changing Climate
Thursday, 4/4 How Do We Know Humans Are Causing Climate to Change? Taking Earth’s Temperature
11 Tuesday, 4/9 How Do We Know Humans Are Causing Climate to Change? Chapter 9, Weather Forecasting, PBS: Decoding the Weather Machine
Thursday, 4/11 Exam Two Weeks 6-11 Exam Two
12 4/15-4/21 SPRING BREAK! Relax and take it easy.
13 Tuesday, 4/23 What Are the Impacts of Climate Change? Climate Change: The Facts
Thursday, 4/25 What Are the Impacts of Climate Change? Chapter 13, Earth’s Changing Climate
14 Tuesday, 5/7 What Are the Impacts of Climate Change? NOVA Documentary: Inside the Megafire (or Earth on Fire)
Thursday, 5/9 What Are the Impacts of Climate Change? Chapter 13, Earth’s Changing Climate
 15 Tuesday, 5/14 What Are the Impacts of Climate Change? Documentary: Chasing Coral
Thursday, 5/16 What Are the Impacts of Climate Change? Chapter 13, Earth’s Changing Climate
16 Tuesday, 5/21 What Can We Do About Climate Change? Documentary: Time to Choose
Thursday, 5/23 What Can We Do About Climate Change? Chapter 13, Earth’s Changing Climate Final Exam Online
16 Tuesday, 5/21 No Class Major Topics from Weeks 1-15
Thursday, 5/23 No Class Major Topics from Weeks 1-15 Final Exam Online