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Earth System Modelling

Module ED110011

This Module is offered by Associate Professorship of Earth System Modelling (Prof. Boers).

This module handbook serves to describe contents, learning outcome, methods and examination type as well as linking to current dates for courses and module examination in the respective sections.

Basic Information

ED110011 is a semester module in English language at Master’s level which is offered in summer semester.

This Module is included in the following catalogues within the study programs in physics.

  • Catalogue of non-physics elective courses
Total workloadContact hoursCredits (ECTS)
150 h 75 h 5 CP

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


Deepen knowledge in Earth system modeling methods:
- Introduction to the possibilities and limitations in applying models that integrate the different Earth system components (atmosphere, oceans, biosphere, and cryosphere) to study the importance and role of these components in the past, present, and future of climate, including in the context of anthropogenic climate change.
- Introduce modeling of geophysical, biogeochemical, and atmospheric processes and their interactions in the Earth system;
- Use of observational data to validate Earth system modeling and its components;
- Nonlinear components of the Earth system and their interrelationship.
- Development of simple climate and Earth system models.

Learning Outcome

At the end of the module students are able to
- grasp the mathematical basics of Earth system modeling, as well as the relevant basic physical equations.
- Demonstrate insight into the availability and use of measured data to validate model simulations;
- apply numerical modeling methods and characterize them in terms of accuracy, stability, etc;
- demonstrate understanding of the fundamental concepts of Earth system modeling, from simple energy-balance models to comprehensive three-dimensional Earth system models that physically couple atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, and terrestrial biosphere;
- Understand and apply concepts of model sensitivity, feedbacks, equilibria, and nonlinear and abrupt behavior;
- select appropriate Earth system models to address specific research questions.


Prerequisites are basic knowledge of Linear Alegbra and higher calculus, especially ordinary differential equations. Prior knowledge acquired in the 1st semester Master module "Satellite Geodesy for Earth System Applications" are recommended.

Knowledge in python or a similar language is necessary.

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

VO 3 Earth System Modelling - Lecture Boers, N. Thu, 10:00–13:00, virtuell

Learning and Teaching Methods

The module consists of a lecture and accompanying exercises. The contents of the lectures are taught in lecture and through presentations. Interaction with the students is encouraged through the use of questioning-developing methods.
The course will also be held in digital form.
In the exercises, practice examples on selected topics are dealt with. Here, the focus is on working through problems and finding solutions, partly in partner and group work, in order to deepen the theoretical foundations taught in the lecture by means of practical tasks and thus to impart the skills of independent analysis and evaluation of Earth system models and their results. For the practical applications and exercises mainly Python is used.


- Blackboard
- Powerpoint presentations in electronic form
- Lecture notes


to be announced in the course

Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

The expected learning outcomes are verified by an 30-minute oral exam. Questions cover the mathematical foundations of Earth system modelling, the principles of modelling of Earth system components like atmosphere, oceans, biosphere, and cryosphere, their interaction,as well as methods for model evaluation and data assimilation. In the oral exam, by means of thematically overarching questions and short computational tasks, it shall be verified if the students are able to remember the acquired knowledge, to apply the methods, to analyze selected problems, and to assess the results.
The midterm reports offer the opportunity to practice the application of Earth system modelling based on practical applications and thus to foster the competences in the application, assessment and interpretation of methods and results. By means of the midterm reports, which are to be performed during the semester in the context of the labs, the final grading of the oral exam can be improved by up to 0,3. If a minimum of 50% of these midterm reports are achieved, they are accepted as midterm and are introduced into the final grading. A degradation of the grade is not possible.

Exam Repetition

There is a possibility to take the exam in the following semester.

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