MAQ-35806 Earth System Modelling


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. LN Ganzeveld
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. W Peters
dr. RWA Hutjes
dr. ir. LN Ganzeveld
Examiner(s)dr. ir. LN Ganzeveld

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

Basic knowledge regarding concepts and quantification of climate and global change, e.g., Earth’s energy balance and biogeochemical cycles (e.g., water, carbon). Courses in which these aspects have been introduced are MAQ-233060 System Earth: Climate- and Global Change and SOQ-36306 Biogeochemical Cycles and Climate Change Mitigation.


This course aims at an introduction into the application of models that integrate the various Earth system components (atmosphere, oceans, cryosphere, biosphere and 'anthroposphere') to study the relevance and role of these components in past, present and future environmental and climate change. The themes being addressed in the lectures and intensive practical's are:
- basic and new concepts of Earth system studies on climate- and global change; Earth system components and their processes, spatial and temporal scales, process interactions, feedbacks, stability, resilience, non-linear dynamical systems, tipping points, entropy;
- earth's energy balance, atmospheric and oceanic dynamics, ocean-atmosphere-, land-atmosphere-, and cryosphere-atmosphere coupling, atmospheric- and biogeochemistry, anthropogenic perturbations;
- introduction into modelling of geophysical, biogeochemical and atmospheric chemical processes and their interactions in the Earth system under natural and anthropogenic conditions;
- use of observations such as in-situ (local scale) measurements, paleoclimate or remote sensing datasets to develop model components and to evaluate the role of the Earth system components;
- use of computing facilities and software to conduct Earth system studies; programming in Matlab, Fortran, climate data analysis tools, plotting software, etc.;
- development and application of simple box models to study the Earth's climate, C-cycle, etc.;
- use of Integrated Assessment Models to study a changing world under an increasing anthropogenic pressure;
- use of global complex Earth system models; conducting your own Earth's climate experiment and data-analysis using an EMIC (Earth system Model of Intermediate Complexity).

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of the interactions between geophysical, dynamical and biogeochemical and atmospheric chemical processes at relevant spatial and temporal scales;
- demonstrate insight in the availability and use of measurements to develop model components and evaluate the role of Earth system components;
- demonstrate an understanding of basic concepts of modelling the Earth system and apply this across the full range of model complexity, from simple linear box models to fully-coupled 3-D Earth system models to study the Earth's environment and climate and global change;
- identify a proper use of numerical approaches to study Earth system dynamics and characterize this application in terms of precision, stability, etc.;
- apply concepts like model sensitivity, feedbacks, equilibria and non-linear behavior in studies based on the application of Earth system models;
- work with computing systems and software, e.g., Linux computing environment, Matlab, climate data processing tools, plotting programs, etc., in Earth system studies;
- define the appropriate modelling approach and tools to address specific research questions of, for example, MSc thesis studies on the Earth's environment and climate and global change.


- classroom teaching;
- development of and working with global climate / earth system models.


- written test with open questions (50%);
- reports on practical assignments (50%).
Each component (written test and average of assignments) needs a minimum mark of 5.0 to pass.


Additional reading material, e.g. papers for assignments.

Restricted Optional for: MEEEarth and EnvironmentMScB: Meteorology and Air Quality4WD
MCLClimate StudiesMScA: The Physical Climate System4WD
MCLClimate StudiesMScB: Biogeochemical Cycles4WD