Conduct a climatological analysis of actual data. I have global, gridded data sets of monthly-average surface air temperature anomalies and precipitation, the three-dimensional temperature fields from radiosondes and from satellites, and soil moisture data, as well as access to the collections of the State Climatologist. Other data are also available. You could address questions such as urban warming, spatial distribution of climate change, or relationships between different variables.


Conduct a series of radiative-convective model or energy-balance model experiments and report on them. This will involve writing a program for a simple energy-balance model or using an existing energy-balance model (MAGICC) or radiative-convective model and then testing either theories of climate change, such as tropospheric aerosols, volcanoes, solar variation, greenhouse gases or natural variability, or testing the climate sensitivity to the inclusion or specification of various feedbacks.


Analyze the performance of a set of climate models. The IPCC Data Distribution Centre has output time series from a number of different general circulation model experiments. You could address the questions of the detection and attribution of climate change, or model performance as compared to reality.


Write a traditional term paper on one of the following topics:

Radiative-convective climate models
Energy-balance climate models
General circulation model simulations
Ocean general circulation models
Sea ice modeling
Models of the biosphere
The water vapor-greenhouse feedback controversy
Natural variability of the climate
Detection of human impacts on climate
Nuclear winter: valid theory or not?
Impacts of climate change on agriculture
Representativeness of the climate record for the last 150 years
Causes of the ice ages
The climatic record in ice cores
The climatic record in ocean sediment cores
Evaluation of current legislative proposals to deal with greenhouse warming
The role of nuclear winter in the end of the arms race
Any other topic related to climate


October 2

Your topic, with a paragraph synopsis

October 27

Outline and list of references

November 25

Completed paper



Prepare a paper that has a message, which answers a question, which has a point of view. You can summarize several other papers but you must come to conclusions. Ask a question, and then cite relevant references to make your point. Or you might want to take 4 or 5 recent papers on a subject, and compare and contrast them, critically evaluating the differences and concluding which is correct. For instance, for "Observations of global cloudiness," your point might be that the global average fractional cloudiness is 55% 4% and that the reasons for the uncertainty include climate variability and observational uncertainties, which would be spelled out.
You must use at least 5 refereed journal articles as references. The journal articles that give the relevant information must be cited in your paper. Look for information for your papers in journal articles from the standard meteorological journals, such as Science, Nature, Journal of Climate, Journal of Geophysical Research, Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, Journal of Applied Meteorology, Monthly Weather Review, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Tellus, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, Climatic Change, Climate Dynamics, Reviews of Geophysics, and Geophysical Research Letters. Most can all be found in the Library of Science and Medicine.
The format for the references must be in the American Meteorological Society (AMS) format, as found in any AMS journal, such as Bulletin of the AMS or Journal of Climate:
Lastname1, Firstname1, Firstname2 Lastname2, and Firstname3 Lastname 3, Year: Article title, Journal, VolNumber, FirstPage-LastPage.

[Of course for other than 3 authors, include ALL the authors' names. Journal name must be in italics; Volume number in bold, without "Vol."]

Use this example:

Vinnikov, Konstantin Y., Alan Robock, Ronald J. Stouffer, John E. Walsh, Claire L. Parkinson, Donald J. Cavalieri, John F. B. Mitchell, Donald Garrett, and Victor F. Zakharov, 1999: Global warming and Northern Hemisphere sea ice extent. Science, 286, 1934-1937.
American Geophysical Union journals (Journal of Geophysical Research, Geophysical Research Letters) have a new reference format for papers published since 2002.  They are now published electronically and do not have page numbers.  However all papers have a unique digital object identifier (doi) number.  For these journals, please use the following format:
Lastname1, Firstname1, Firstname2 Lastname2, and Firstname3 Lastname 3, Year: Article title, Journal, VolNumber, paper number, doi:____.

[Of course for other than 3 authors, include ALL the authors' names. Journal name must be in italics; Volume number in bold, without "Vol."]

Use this example:

Vinnikov, Konstantin Y., Norman C. Grody, Alan Robock, Ronald J. Stouffer, Philip D. Jones, and Mitchell D. Goldberg, 2006:  Temperature trends at the surface and in the troposphere.  J. Geophys. Res., 111, D03106, doi:10.1029/2005JD006392.
When referring to a reference in the text of the paper, use just the last name of the author(s) and the year. For one or two authors, use all the names. For more than 2, use "et al." (but list all authors in reference list at end). For example:

Smith et al. (2000) showed that ....
As pointed out by Smith and Jones (1999), the ....
... at 500 mb (Smith 2001).
... thunderstorms (Smith et al. 1999, Jones 2000).
The Rutgers University Library System provides several data bases that can be used to search for journal articles on specific topics. I particularly recommend the Web of Science and ingenta (formerly UnCover). In both databases, it is possible to find every article written in a particular year that includes any particular word or combination of words in the title. It is also possible to find every paper written by a particular author. In the Web of Science, one can find every paper written that references a given paper. Thus, once you have found a seminal paper in the field, you can find all the work that has been done since then.
The Stephen & Lucy Chang Science Library in Foran Hall contains most of the American Meteorological Society journals. The Center for Environmental Prediction library page provides much more information about the Rutgers library resources. You can also use the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) Library. It is 15 miles south on Route 1 on the Forrestal Campus of Princeton University. It contains every meteorological journal, and has a free copying machine. But because of security regulations, however, you must follow these rules:

Students should only come to GFDL during the times when the GFDL Librarian, Gail Haller, is present in the library to monitor visitors. These hours are nominally from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Also, when students are planning to visit, they must contact Gail [gail.haller@noaa.gov or (609) 452-6550] prior to coming in order to be sure that she will be here to assist them. Likewise, when Gail leaves for the day, they will be expected to leave as well. Our procedure is that visitors will need to sign in and to pick up and display visitor badges when the come into our building. They will return these badges when they leave and sign out as well. Bags are subject to inspection at entry and exit.  Rutgers students are not allowed to sign out books. There is a photocopier, but it is old and breaks down from time to time. Foreign nationals are required to have their passport and student ID.
It may also be tempting to use search engines on the Internet to obtain web pages and use this information in your term paper. However, information found on the Internet is of varying quality. The only information that is acceptable as a reference in a scientific article is that which is subject to "peer review." This means that experts in the subject matter of the paper have reviewed it and recommended to the journal editor that everything in the paper is correct and well described, and that the paper contains interesting new findings. This process usually requires several revisions, in which the author responds to the first set of reviews, and then the revised manuscript is reviewed again. This process continues until the editor is satisfied that the paper is excellent. Web pages are not subject to such a process, in general, and anyone can post any information she wants on the Internet. Therefore, web pages, in general, are not acceptable as references. You may use the Web to find references to peer-reviewed articles, but only these articles may be used as references.
The maximum limit for the paper is 15 pages, double-spaced, not including references or figures. The paper must by typed. Number the pages. Be sure that you include the following sections: Title Page, Abstract, Introduction, Body of Paper (can be several sections), Conclusions, References, Tables, Figures. Try to be as concise as possible while still covering the main points. Do not spend a lot of effort repeating details that can be found in other papers. Concentrate on analysis and synthesis of other work.
The abstract should not describe how each section is written. Rather, it must actually give the results you found. For example, do not say, "Where a squall line usually forms is discussed." or "This paper describes ...." Rather say, "Squall lines usually form ahead of strong cold fronts."
Use only SI units in your term paper. If your source uses English units, convert them to SI units before using them. If English units appear in a quotation, include the SI conversion. For example: "the squall line was 5 miles [8 km] wide." (Smith et al. 2000)
Use correct format for numbers and units.  Always leave a blank between each number and unit, except for % and C. Use degree symbol () and subscripts and superscripts, when needed. Here are some examples of correct usage: 20C, 280 K, 100 km2, O3, 500 mb, 500 hPa.  For pressure, use either mb or hPa, but do not mix them in the paper.
Be sure to use the following words correctly. "Data" is plural; "datum" is singular. "Affect" is a verb; "effect" is a noun. Rather than "in order to," use just "to." Rather than "in order for," use just "for." Rather than "the fact that" use just "that."  Use "note that" sparingly.
Use words for numbers less than 10, but use digits for numbers greater than or equal to 10. Variable should be in italics, and units should be in regular font. Always put a "0" before decimal points ("0.3" and not ".3"). Use "%" rather than writing out "percent." The reference list should be in alphabetical order, with a hanging indent, and not numbered.
Do not plagiarize. Do not copy anything word for word without putting it in quotes and referencing it. Do not copy any idea without referencing it. Do not copy anything from the Internet and submit it as your own work. Every sentence or paragraph in your paper will fall into one of three categories: 1) Direct quote from an article you read; 2) Idea from article you read, expressed in your own words; or 3) Your own idea. In the case of 1 or 2, it is necessary to reference the article from which the quote or idea came. If it is a quote (1), it must appear in quotation marks. Try to use your own words to express your ideas.  For more information on plagiarism, visit the Rutgers Writing Program.
Do feel free to copy a few (< 5) relevant figures from the papers you read, if necessary, and include them with the appropriate citation. Each figure must have a caption, describing what is shown in the figure, defining each variable in the figure, and, if appropriate, giving the time and location of the observations shown in the figure. Each figure caption must include a reference to the paper from which it came, and the figure number in the original paper.
 You can use the original caption, but write also write your own, with your own figure number.

Prepared by Alan Robock (robock@envsci.rutgers.edu) - Last updated on September 7, 2008