nav barr icon of nasa logo icon of csun logo

Math 396 CL Introduction to Mathematical Climate Science

Global climate change is one of the most serious problems facing humanity.  Climate science is a rapidly expanding, interdisciplinary field, with increasing participlation by mathematicians (see for example, Mathematics of Planet Earth, 2013).  This course will introduce students to applications of vector calculus and differential equations to the study of global climate. Fundamental equations governing atmospheric dynamics will be derived and solved for a variety of situations. Topics include: thermodynamics of the atmosphere, potential temperature, parcel concepts, hydrostatic balance, dynamics of air motion and wind flows, energy balance, an introduction to radiative transfer, and elementary mathematical climate models.

Class Meetings Tuesday & Thursdays, 11:00 to 12:15 p.m., Chaparral Hall 5117

Math 250 and Math 280 (or Math 351), or Permission of the Instructors


There will be two midterm exams, each worth 20%, and a final exam worth 40% of the grade.  Quizzes and homework together will constitute 20% of the grade.  Plus grades  (+) and minus grades (–) will be assigned for this course.  The date of the midterms will be announced in class.  5 bonus points may be earned for e ach Climate Seminar presentation attended.

Final Exam: Tuesday, December 11, 2012, 10:15 to 12:15 a.m.

Textbook Atmospheric Science: An Introductory Survey, Second edition
Authors: Wallace and Hobbs

Instructor Information

David Klein
Santa Susana Hall, Room 127
Phone: (818) 677-7792
web page:
Office Hours: MW 10:30 to 11:30 & by Appointment

Cristina Cadavid
Eucalyptus Hall, Room 2105
Phone: (818) 677- 2171
Office Hours: 12:15 to 1:15, TTh & by Appointment

Additional References

Elementary Climate Physics, by F.W. Taylor

Fundamentals of Atmospheric Physics, by M.L. Salby

An Introduction to Atmospheric Radiation Dynamics, by K.N. Liou

An Introduction to Atmospheric Physics, by D. G. Andrews

Online Resources

Climate Overview: Powerpoint from first class meeting

Curtis Lab Research: Optical and Chemical properties of atmospheric aerosols (powerpoint)

CSUN Climate Science Program:

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Real Climate

The Discovery of Global Warming, by Spencer Weart, director of the Center for History of Physics at the American Institute of Physics.


GISS Surface Temperature Analysis, NASA

Global Maps for Net Radiation, NASA


Laboratory Demonstrations of Planetary-Style Fluid Dynamics,
from Spin-Lab at UCLA

Perpetual Ocean: NASA simulation of worldwide ocean currents

Exams and Homework Assignments

Assignment 1, Due Sept 18, Chapter 3 problems: 3.19, 3.20, 3.26, 3.32, 3.33 (part a only), 3.36
Solutions to Assignment 1

Assignment 2, Due Sept 27, Chapter 3 problems: 3.22, 3.37 (only the analytic part, not the charts), 3.41. 3.42, 3.58, 3.64
Solutions to Assignment 2

Exam 1 Oct. 2 covers Chapter 3.

Assignment 3, Due Oct. 16, Chapter 4 problems: 4.20, 4.21, 4.22, 4.24, 4.43, 4.46 (hint: use Eqs. 4.32, 3.17, and the scale height is H in Eq. 3.25), 4.51

Assignment 4, Due Nov. 20, Chapter 7 problems: 7.8, 7.18, 7.23, 7.24, and do extra problems (more to come, so check back...)

Exam 2 Nov. 29 covers Chapter 4 and parts of Chap 7

Final Exam: Tuesday, December 11, 2012, 10:15 to 12:15 a.m.

Climate Fellowship Opportunities

CSUN Climate Science Program's JPL Summer Fellowships

Document Reader

CSUN Social Media: YouTube           Facebook           Twitter           Linked In           Alumni Network

how hot is the earth? global ice viewer climate time machine sea level viewer eyes on earth 3D