Course content

Paleo-climatology is the study of earth’s climate history from the deep past to recent climate change. It spotlights changes on geological time scales as well as variations over glacial-interglacial cycles, and recent human induced changes. There is a particular focus on the climate archives in the large polar ice sheets and the geological record. The student will get acquainted with reading the paleo-climate archives, and judging their uncertainties.

The goal of the course is to provide an introduction to and general knowledge of what can be learned from paleo-climate archives about global and regional climate on timescales from a few thousand to millions of years. The course will bring the student up to date with new records of past climate and their interpretation. The course provides the background for a critical view on man made climate change.


MSc Programme in Climate Change
MSc Programme in Environmental Science
MSc Programme in Physics

Learning outcome


  • Describe the current state of knowledge on past climate change at ta variety of time scales.
  • Understand the main drivers of climate change in the past including the astronomically driven changes in solar radiation and the impacts of changes in the carbon cycle.
  • Provide an overview of the usefulness of different paleoclimate archives.
  • Understand the importance of comparing different paleo records.


  • Make a simple description of a climate record.
  • Understand paleo climate terminology and be able to use the terminology to communicate with paleo-climate scientists.


  • Make first order explanations of complex interactions of the earth system influencing the climate.
  • Synthesize climate information from various sources.
  • Understand the difference between global and regional climate change.
  • Have a perception of natural climate variations and the superimposed human influence on climate.

student presentations,

See Absalon for final course material. The following is an example of expected course litterature.


William F. Ruddiman: Earth’s Climate, past and future.  W.H. Freeman.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, 24 hours
Type of assessment details
The candidates will be assigned a topic on which they have to write a report.
The individual report is to be 1000-2500 words during a 24 hour take home exam.
Relevant figures and references are not to be included in the report but are to be added in an appendix.
Exam registration requirements

Attendance at 80% of the lectures and student presentations.
Give the assigned student presentations.

All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
two internal examiners

Same as ordinary exam.

The requirements for participation cannot be ignored. Students who do not meet the requirement should therefore follow the course again the following year.

Criteria for exam assessment

see learning outcome

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 32
  • Preparation
  • 158
  • Seminar
  • 16
  • English
  • 206


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 block

Block 1
The number of seats may be reduced in the late registration period
Study Board of Physics, Chemistry and Nanoscience
Contracting department
  • The Niels Bohr Institute
  • Department of Geoscience and Natural Resource Management
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator
  • Thomas Blunier   (7-656f78716c68754371656c316e7831676e)

Thomas Blunier
Christoph Korte

Saved on the 28-02-2023

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