Home » Introduction to Climate Modeling Module I & Module II

Introduction to Climate Modeling

Module I & Module II

An Introduction to Climate Modeling introduces advanced numerical research tools that are used to study the global climate in the past, present and future. The course will give good insight in climate change science and the numerical tools that go with it. The course will be given in two modules The second module builds strongly on the first.

Module I provides an introduction to the climate system along with experiments using numerical models that are built on simplified concepts of the climate system. During the preparation phase, all students (at their home universities) are expected to read specified course literature, solve some problems and prepare discussion topics. This work can preferably be done together with other students at the local university. An introduction to Python will also be provided and the students are expected to have followed a number of instruction for this during the preparation phase.
The second phase of the course is a week at Stockholm University where there will be lectures during morning and tutorials in the afternoon. The lectures will cover all main aspects of the climate system with introductory lectures on the role of atmospheric and ocean circulation, energy balance and surface exchange, land and sea-ice, vegetation, carbon cycle as well as the concept of climate forcing and feedbacks. In the tutorials experiments, during the second phase, using energy-balance models and one-dimensional radiative-convective models are performed. The aim of the tutorials are to reach a deeper understanding of some general concepts of the climate system discussed in the lectures, and for giving an introduction to work with models. Examination tasks will be given in the third phase of the course at the home university with a deadline about a month after the lecture week. The intention is that these should be solved using the modeling tools as well as the theoretical material covered in the lectures. Examination of each individual is based on a written report and a review of another student report of these individual studies.

Module II builds on the knowledge gained during Module I and provides an introduction to state-of-the-art climate models so called Earth System Models (ESMs). During the preparation phase, all students are expected to read specific parts of the course literature. A small written statement about what type of research problem they would like to study using ESMs should also be prepared. At Stockholm University, during the second phase, there will be lectures describing ESMs in detail and what they can and cannot do. The topics of the lectures will cover the various submodels on atmosphere, land, ocean, sea-ice, vegetation and biogeochemistry, chemistry and aerosols, of state-of-the-art ESMs as well as on what information is exchanged between the different model components, and how the model code is structured. Examples of scientific experiments using climate models are presented and discussed. Aspects of climate modeling such as future projections, model tuning, model uncertainty, the role of the models in the IPCC reports, the CMIP coordination initiative are also discussed. The lecture material will cover general aspects of ESMs but will have more details on two particular ESMs: EC-Earth and NorESM. In the tutorials that are also during the second phase, the students will work individually to learn how to compile, set up experiments and run EC-Earth or NorESM. The students will also learn how to implement changes to model parameters, boundary data and how to modify the source code.
The third phase is a project where the students define a small project by themselves in groups of 2-3 members with a supervisor from Stockholm University or from their local university. The examination is based on a oral presentation of the project in a workshop a few weeks after the lectures.


Intended learning outcomes

After the course the students should have obtained:

Climate Modeling Module I:

  • advanced understanding of the major processes in the climate system;
  • basic knowledge of python;
  • the ability to make experiments with simplified models in order to test scientific hypothesis;

Climate Modeling Module II:

  • the ability to compile and run a state-of-the-art climate model;
  • the ability to make experiments with the model in order to test scientific hypothesis;
  • relevant knowledge of strengths and weaknesses of the models.

Credits: 5 ECTS points per Module
Language: English
Grades: Passed or not passed



Climate Modeling Module I:

  • Raymond Pierrehumbert: “Principles of Planetary Climate”, Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Climate Modeling Module II:

  • Kendal McGuffie and Ann Henderson-Sellers: “A climate modeling Primer”, fourth edition, Wiley-Blackwell, 2014.
  • Scientific papers and the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/index.shtml).



  • The students bring their own laptops. The students will be given access to SNIC supercomputing center in Module II.


  • The students should have a basic knowledge of mathematics and programming in order to take the course.