McMaster University

McMaster University


Surface Climate Processes and Environmental Interaction

Calendar Description

The surface heat and water balance of natural and human-modified landscapes. Emphasis on interactions of people and the biosphere with climate.
Two lectures, one lab (two hours); one term Prerequisite(s): One of ENVIR SC 1A03, 1B03, 1G03, ISCI 1A24 Cross-List(s): ENVIR SC 2C03, EARTH SC 2C03

Time/Term Offered: Term One Fall 2013-14

Instructor: Dr. M. Altaf Arain
Room: General Science Building Rm. 221
Tel:(905) 525.9140 ext.27941
Office hours: TBA

Teaching Assistant:

Janelle Trant      


Phone ext. 27879   BSB-313


Robin Thorne      


Phone ext. 26247   BSB-313


Erin Nicholls            


Phone ext. 28613   BSB-317B



Course Outline Avenue to Learn
In Course Information  


An introduction to near-surface climate processes by which heat and water is transferred and stored in natural and human-modified landscapes, particularly at few meters below the surface and few 100s of meters above the surface. Interaction of various environmental components and their feedback will also be studied.

Topics covered include:
1. Surface Radiation, Energy and Water Budgets
2. Surface Climate Processes
a) Active Surface and Subsurface
a) Momentum and the Wind Profile
a) Sensible and Latent Heat Flux
a) Spatial Variability and Fetch Relations
a) Energy and Mass Balance of Ecosystems
3. Natural Surface Climates
(a) Snow and Ice
(b) Lakes and Oceans
(c) Arctic Ecosystems
(d) Forest Ecosystems
4. Surface Processes, Feedback, and Climate Change


Lecture: Tuesday, 16:30 to 17:20, Thursday, 15:30 to 16:20, BSB - Room B135

Lab-1, Fri,  12:30-14:20, BSB-238 (Erin)

Lab-2, Wed, 08:30-10:20, BSB-238 (Robin)


Lab-3, Wed, 11:30-13:20, BSB-122 (Robin)


Lab-4, Thur, 09:30-11:20, BSB-142  (Janelle)


Lab-5, Mon, 09:30-11:20, BSB-140  (Janelle)


Required Text Books/Course materials:

Oke, T.R., 1987, Boundary Layer Climates, 2nd Ed. Routledge. ISBN: 0-415-04319-0

Available at Titles bookstore or other venues.




Lab Assignments (3 @ 5% each)


Midterm Exam


Final exam (cumulative)




Academic Dishonesty

Academic dishonesty consists of misrepresentation by deception or by other fraudulent means and can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: “Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty”), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  • Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.

  • Improper collaboration in group work.

  • Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various kinds of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The University reserves the right to change any aspect of this course outline.

Please Note: The Instructor and University reserve the right to modify elements of the course during the term. The University may change the dates and deadlines for any or all courses in extreme circumstances. If either type of modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. It is the responsibility of the student to check their McMaster email and course websites weekly during the term and to note any changes.



Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Level Double-A conformance, W3C WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0