We are involved in a range of courses in the Bachelor and Master programmes from Climate Sciences, Physics as well as Human Medicine. Most courses and seminars are held in English.
Please note that some courses are not held each semester and may be taken in several programs of study. For details on eligibility in different programs please consult the KSL website.

All courses will be announced via KSL - Central Teaching System, ( The latest data is always published in KSL!

Spring semester

This topic of this lecture is the general atmospheric circulation and modes of variability. The basis to understand the atmospheric circulation is fluid dynamics applied to the atmosphere. Thus, the course will first introduce the dynamical and thermodynamical equations necessary to understand the atmospheric dynamics. Then these equations are simplified to gain understanding in midlatitude dynamics. There, the quasi-geostrophic equations deliver a first understanding how waves develop and grow. The budget of angular momentum and energy will give insight why we observe meridional overturning cells in the atmosphere and why mid latitude waves are so important in transporting energy from the equator to the poles. Finally, the statistical description of atmospheric phenomena is a different view point on the atmospheric circulation. In this respect modes of variability such as El Nino Southern Oscillation or the North Atlantic Oscillation will be presented.

See Introduction to Atmospheric Circulation and Modes of Variability in KSL

See Introduction to Atmospheric Circulation and Modes of Variability in ILIAS

Sustainable development depends on quantitative knowledge of the past, present, and future behaviour of the Earth System. This is obtained from physics-based models of the atmosphere and the ocean. In this course, the hierarchy of climate models is introduced, starting from simple energy balance models, then increasing complexity to arrive at circulation models of the ocean and the atmosphere. These models are based on the physical principles of the conservation of mass, energy and momentum. Climate feedbacks and propagation of waves are described to understand the climate system response to perturbations. The numerical techniques to carry out model simulations on the computer are introduced and discussed. In the parallel course work, a key element of this course, the students learn to implement such models using Python and carry out simulations. Detailed lecture notes for this course are available (

See Introduction to Climate Modelling in KSL

See Introduction to Climate Modelling in ILIAS

The lecture represents an introduction to various aspects of fundamental and applied glaciology. It covers the description and basic role of the cryosphere in the climate system with special focus on alpine glaciers and ice sheets including the role of glaciers as climate archives using ice core drilling. First hand glaciological experience may be collected during a 1-day excursion. The main topics covered are:

  • Ice in the climate system
  • Mass balance and glacier morphology
  • Firnification
  • Deformation and flow of ice (continuum mechanics)
  • Temperature distribution in ice
  • Ice core research (isotopes, aerosol, gases)

See Glaciology and Ice Cores in KSL

See Glaciology and Ice Cores in ILIAS

In the face of the climate and biodiversity crises, Nature-Based Solutions (NBSs) appear as a possible path to address both challenges synergistically. NBSs encompass a broad set of approaches (such as ecosystem conservation and restoration, agroecology, urban green and blue infrastructures, etc) that generally strive to work with Nature rather than against it toward sustainable development. However, the potential contribution of NBSs to climate change mitigation and adaptation is still uncertain and highly debated. Should NBSs be a central element in a road map toward climate-neutrality or are they a distraction from more urgent measures to decarbonize human activities? Beyond the carbon perspective, are NBSs helping human communities become more resilient to climate change impacts?

See Nature-Based Solutions for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation in KSL

See Nature-Based Solutions for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation in ILIAS

Fall semester

Carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning and land use change perturb the Earth System in a fundamental and non-sustainable manner. In this lecture we will discuss the anthropogenic perturbation of the carbon cycle and the role of natural carbon cycle variations for atmospheric CO2 and climate. The lecture provides a natural science background to better understand the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement.

See Carbon Cycle in KSL

See Carbon Cycle in ILIAS

Anthropogenic climate change is one of the greatest challenges faced by human societies. The reduction of human caused greenhouse gas emission to meet the climate targets of the legally-binding Paris Agreement is key to reach the UN sustainability goals. This lecture will discuss the fundamentals of the climate system including the atmospheric radiation balance, carbon and other biogeochemical cycles, ocean and atmospheric circulation, multiple climate equilibria, climate variations of the last million years and applications of stable isotopes and radionuclides to trace environmental processes.

This course can also be attended by master and PhD students of the Graduate School of Climate Sciences.

See Introduction to Climate and Environmental Physics in KSL

See Introduction to Climate and Environmental Physics in ILIAS

This course introduce the students to the main elemental cycles on Earth and discusses issues of sustainable development of the Earth System processes.
This course can also be attended by master and PhD students of the Graduate School of Climate Sciences.

See Stable Isotopes in KSL

See Stable Isotopes in ILIAS