Climate change


Environmental and Regional Studies (3rd level)

Biodiversity and ecology (3rd Cycle)
Paleobiology and sedimentary geology (3rd Cycle)
Regional studies (3rd Cycle)

Course code: DI014
Year of study: 1st year

Course principal:
Assoc. Prof. Matija Zorn, Ph.D.


Workload: lectures 30 hours, tutorial 20 hours, field work 10 hours, individual work 120 hours.
Course type: common elective
Languages: Slovene, English
Learning and teaching methods: lectures, seminars, e-learning


Course syllabus (download)


Finished second Bologna level in the appropriate field or University degree VII.


Content (Syllabus outline):

1. Climate components
1.1. Radiation (electromagnetic spectrum, solar energy)
1.2. Greenhouse effect
1.3. Earth’s Energy Balance & Variation in Sun’s Radiation
1.4. Atmospheric Circulation
1.5. Ocean Circulation / currents
1.6. Atmosphere-Ocean interactions (North Atlantic Oscillation, El Niño, La Niña, Indian Ocean Dipole)


2. Records of past climate change
2.1. Instrumental measurements
2.2. Historical records
2.3. Proxy measurements (oxygen isotopes, additional information from ice cores, speleothems/stalagmites, tree rings, spores and pollen, corals, sea level changes)


3. History of atmosphere
3.1. Earth’s early atmosphere
3.2. Great Oxidation Event


4. History of past climate change
4.1. Proterozoic
4.2. Palaeozoic
4.3. Mesozoic
4.4. Cainozoic
4.5. Quaternary
4.6. Last glacial/interglacial cycle
4.7. Holocene
4.7.1. Saharan climate change
4.7.2. European variability
4.8. 20th – 21th century warming


5. Causes of climate change
5.1. Tectonics
5.2. Milankovic cycles
5.3. Volcanism
5.4. Bolides
5.5. Sunspots
5.6. Composition of the atmosphere
5.6.1. Methane
5.6.2. CO2


6. Climate sceptics/deniers/rationalists
6.1. Fake news
6.2. Scientists
6.3. Columnists
6.4. Sceptic organisations, Clexit Coalition
6.5. Denial statements versus facts


7. Climate adaptations
7.1. Geoengineering – Big solutions
7.1.1. Solar radiation management techniques
7.1.2. Techniques to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere
7.2. Global climate protocols
7.2.1. Climate change negotiations
7.2.2. Montreal Protocol
7.2.3. Kyoto Protocol
7.3. Local (Slovenian) climate organisations
7.4. Climate change adaptations – strategies of the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning
7.5. Climate versus environment


8. Winners and losers
8.1. Positive/negative effects of greater CO2 levels
8.2. Positive/negative effects of higher temperatures
8.3. Positive/negative effects of change in rainfall amount



  • Castillo, F., Wehner, M., Stone, D.: 2021. Extreme Events and Climate Change: A Multidisciplinary Approach. Wiley, 256 p.
  • Letcher, T. (Ed.): 2021. Climate Change: Observed Impacts on Planet Earth, Third Edition. Elsevier, 750 p.
  • Letcher, T. (Ed.): 2021. The Impacts of Climate Change. Elsevier, 420 p.
  • Singh, S., Singh, P., Rangabhashiyam, S., Srivastava, K. K.: 2021. Global Climate Change. Elsevier, 370 p.
  • Komac, B., Pavšek, M., and Topole, M.: 2020. Climate and Weather of Slovenia. In: The Geography of Slovenia, Perko, D., Ciglič, R., and Zorn, M. (Eds.), Springer. Pp. 71-90.
  • Fletcher, C.: 2018. Climate Change: What The Science Tells Us, 2nd Edition. Wiley, 352 p.
  • Thomas, J. A., Williams, M., Zalasiewicz, J.: 2020. The Anthropocene: A ltidisciplinary Approach. Wiley, 288 p.
  • Anderson, D., Maasch, K., Sandweiss, D. (Eds.): 2007. Climate Change and Cultural Dynamics: A Global Perspective on Mid-Holocene Transitions. Elsevier, 602 p.
  • Sperling, D., Cannon, J.: 2006. Driving Climate Change. Elsevier, 312 p.
  • Issar, A. S.: 2003. Climate Changes during the Holocene and their Impact on Hydrological Systems. Cambridge University Press, 127 p.


Objectives and competences:

The course aims at providing the basis for understanding the physical Earth and space processes which govern climate variations on different timescales. This is supplemented by the introduction of the overall climatic changes throughout the Earth’s history, including the methods and proxies of climate change.


These bases will provide the awareness that although a growing scientific consensus of climate change has become established, the complexities and uncertainties of the science provide opportunities for climate sceptics to challenge the findings. The final objective of the course is to present climatic adaptations and proposed consequences of climate change.


Intended learning outcomes:

  • Understanding of the physical basis of the natural climatic forcings, including radiation, greenhouse effect, atmospheres and ocean.
  • Understanding methods of climate change research and proxies that indicate the changes.
  • Understanding overall climatic changes throughout the Earth’s history and natural variability in the Earth’s climate due to various causes, and consequently demonstrating an awareness of the difficulties involved in the detection of any unusual global warming signal above the background noise of attributing (in whole or in part) any such signal to human activity.
  • Ability to observe long- and short-term climatic changes on a local, regional and global scale.
  • Reflecting the overall perspective of causes and consequences of climate change, and consequently the ability to discuss scepticism of climate change.
  • Summarising activities (and protocols) taken to prevent climate change or to adapt to its changes, and what are the predicted short-term and long-term consequences to the human population.



Oral exam (80 %), practical (20 %).