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Global Climate System

Take your first steps towards becoming a climate scientist by formulating your own research question and investigate it by designing your own experiments with a state-of-the-art global climate model or exploring observational data.

CIVIS focus area
Climate, environment and energy
Open to
  • MA
Field of studies
  • Natural Sciences and Mathematics
Course dates
January - March 2022
Apply by
15 October 2021 Apply now

The theory of Earth's changing climate now and in the past involves an understanding of radiative forcing and feedback mechanisms, and how they result in global temperature change. Earth's changing climate is controlled by feedback mechanisms and changing boundary conditions such as insolation, atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations or aerosol particles.

In the course, you will learn how the planetary energy balance is a useful starting point to the problem. You will then explore radiative forcing and feedback mechanisms, and how the oceans are key for the transient climate response such as historical and future warming. You will further explore global natural variability and various non-linearities that may cause catastrophic events, so-called tipping points.

Main topics addressed

  • Energy and momentum balance in the climate system
  • Observed climate and climate change
  • Coupled climate models
  • Climate sensitivity
  • Time scales of the climate system
  • Reservoirs in the climate system
  • Scientific hypothesis formulation and testing
  • Knowledge gaps and their causes

Learning outcomes

Students will learn to formulate hypotheses about the climate system, test them with help of the climate models and observations, and to critically asses and discuss the results from hypothesis testing.

Duration of the course: 10 weeks

Course format: Blended*

Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Language: English (B2 required)

Nb of ECTS: 7.5 (depending on your home University) Nb of CIVIS scholarships offered: 30 

*Subject to review, depending on the development of the current global pandemic. If overseas travelling and in-person teaching are not advisable, the entire course may be transferred online. 


This course is open to MA students, as well as BA students having at least 15 ECTS credits in Mathematics.

A B2 level of English is required.


The course is graded based on the written project report. In addition, students must participate actively in the seminars, carry out homework, write a small lab report, and present their project results to their fellow students.

Application process

Applicants should send their applications (a CV and a cover letter with 500 words maximum) by 15 October 2021 to:

Additional information 

  • Course code at the Stockholm University: MO7003.
  • Course webpage on the Stockholm University website: Global Climate System.
  • For the current and late application dates for courses at Stockholm University, click here.

Thorsten Mauritsen is a senior lecturer in climate science at the Department of Meteorology at Stockholm University. He has vast experience with developing state-of-the-art global climate models and published a large number of studies on Earth's climate sensitivity, cloud feedbacks, climate variability, polar amplification, ocean and atmosphere circulation changes, etc. He is a lead author on the 2021 United Nations (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.