Fire and Water: The Sun, Oceans and Atmosphere in Climate Change
Fall 2013 quarter
The Earth’s atmosphere and oceans are affected by human activities, by the Sun and by geologic activity. Over many millions of years, the Earth has experienced wide fluctuations in climate, from ice ages to very warm periods. Earth is currently experiencing an unusually rapid warming trend, due to anthropogenic (human-caused) changes in atmospheric composition. Historically, a major factor determining global climate has been the intensity of the Sun's energy reaching the Earth. However, climate changes cannot be explained by variations in solar radiation alone. This program will examine some of the major interactions between the Earth and Sun, atmosphere and oceans.
Interactions between oceans and atmosphere affect the composition of both, and oceans impact global climate by redistributing the Sun's energy. Changes in ocean circulation help explain climatic changes over geologic time, and marine microorganisms play a major role in the cycling of gases that affect climate (e.g., CO2 and dimethylsulfide). What is the evidence for causes of contemporary global warming? What are expected consequences? What can be done? What about proposed schemes to engineer solutions to global warming, such as the sequestration of anthropogenic carbon into the deep sea? We will study diverse and interconnected physical, chemical, geological and biological processes. This requires a basic understanding of biology and chemistry as well as facility with algebra and ability to learn precalculus.
Students will learn through lectures, workshops, laboratories and seminars, often using primary scientific literature. Students will do significant teamwork and may research questions that they are particularly interested in. We will have weekly online assignments, so students should be comfortable using computers and the Internet.
Fields of Study
Preparatory for studies or careers in
Location and Schedule
Offered during: Day
|May 7th, 2013||$60 fee has been added.|