ESM 203: Earth System Science
Due: 09 December 2005 5:00 p.m.
(e-mail to Damon, 3 files max)
The Final Examination counts 50% of your course grade. Answer five of the seven questions,
which are equally weighted. The exam is open-book. You do not have to repeat the question
in your answer; just use the number and letter designations.
You may use your notes, assigned readings, or other material. You may not use
each other, so please do not discuss the exam with anyone else. You may not
use any other person for help, especially any faculty or staff member. You
should refrain from even discussing the course at all, with anyone, between this
afternoon and next Friday afternoon, even after you have turned in your exam.
Some of the questions are straightforward, and ask you essentially to re-explain what we cov-
ered in class. Others questions are more mature, and require you to apply what you have
learned to something we did not explicitly teach you.
Read the questions carefully and write succinct, focused answers. Some of the questions may
tempt you to diverge into questions of ideology. Avoid this by concentrating on the technical
or management issue being raised. Try to be complete but concise. Do not bury your answer,
which might be correct, too deeply.
Ordinarily we would follow the usual practice that you could email Jeff if you have questions
about the interpretation of the material. If we think you have thereby identified something
about the exam that is unclear, he would post the answer to the rest of the class. Jeff is away
at the AGU meeting, however, and his laptop has died. You may still email a question, and he
will try, but his access to email will likely be sporadic.
Evidence of Human Causes of Climate Change
“…a firmer association between human activities and climate has emerged. Even the most
skeptical climatologist in the IPCC group now concedes that warming bears an anthropo-
genic handprint. That is important news because reservations about the source of the past
century’s warming have often been cited effectively in policy debates, usually in support
of deferring mitigation actions.”
Don Kennedy, editor of
, editorial, November 10, 2000
However, if you’re trying to convince a skeptic, you can’t just quote the editorial. You
have to present good empirical or theoretical evidence. In about a page …
Explain some compelling evidence that the cause of the global rise in temperatures
over the last half century has a large anthropogenic component, whereas other periods
of even more rapid warming did not have human origins.
How might we verify climate models, in order to increase our confidence in them and
help us assess whether the recent climate warming is a result of greenhouse gases
whose atmospheric concentration is larger because of mankind’s activities? [Hint: Be-
cause of the grid scale of the models, it is often difficult to simply compare a model
result with a particular observation. Consider instead how you might want to get more