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2014 course offerings that will apply toward a Climate Change Studies minor

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Climate Change Science - Course Descriptions

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Science of Climate Change/Honors, CCS/NRSM 291, 3 cr (Natural Resources Science Management). Offered fall. This course provides students with a fundamental understanding of the physical, chemical, and biological processes that regulate Earth’s climate. We will explore how these processes have affected Earth’s climate in that past and how they will affect Earth’s climate in the future. The course will discuss the carbon cycle, climate/biology interactions, biodiversity implications, ocean biogeochemical changes, future projections, and uncertainties in the climate system. This Honors course is open to all undergraduates, both science and non-science majors.

Weather and Climate, ERTH 303N 3cr (Earth Systems). Offered spring, online. Same as CCS 303N. Prereq., GEOG 102N or consent of instr. This course covers the origin, composition, structure, and dynamics of the atmosphere, gas and radiation laws, energy budget and balance, weather elements and North American weather systems. By the end of this course, students should be able to describe why we have seasons, understand and evaluate the nightly TV forecast for normal and severe weather, and able to explain basic climate change principles to their friends.

Global Cycles and the Climate System, NRSM 408, 3 cr (Natural Resources Science Management). Offered spring even numbered years. Six elements – carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, sulfur and phosphorus make up 95% of the mass of Earth’s biosphere, and provide the biochemical foundation for all of life. The global cycles of these elements in their biological, geological and chemical forms constitute the biogeochemical cycles. Human activities are driving profound changes in these cycles, with potentially devastating effects. Increases in atmospheric CO2, global climate change, increases in the use of inorganic N and P fertilizers, ozone depletion, among others, are all happening at unprecedented rates. In this course, we explore how variations in the availability or utilization of these and other critical Earth elements influences the atmosphere, the oceans, and the terrestrial biosphere including the natural and agricultural ecosystems on which we depend.

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Ecosystem Climatology, NRSM 491, 3 cr (Natural Resources Science Management). Offered intermittently. Life has evolved on Earth due to its favorable climate conditions, but life has also played an important role in the evolution of Earth’s atmosphere and climate. This course will explore the interactions between Earth’s biosphere and atmosphere and how they affect climate over a range of scales. It will focus on the exchange of energy, mass, and important elements between the biosphere and atmosphere and how this exchange can lead to fascinating feedbacks on Earth’s climate system. This course will reintroduce important principles from physics, chemistry and biology in a conceptual framework to elucidate how the biosphere and atmosphere are inextricably linked. Based on this conceptual framework, students will evaluate recent scientific literature and do simple thought experiments to explore Earth’s climate system.

Global Change, GEO 482, 3 cr (Geosciences). Offered intermittently. Same as CCS 482. Prereq., consent of instr. Requires solid background in geology, physics, math, and chemistry. Lectures, readings, and discussions on geological and geochemical processes that affect global change using recent literature; carbon dioxide buildup, greenhouse effect, ozone depletion, desertification, ice ages, and other global events. Goals: 1) Learn the theoretical and analytical foundations of climate processes, emphasizing energy balance, energy distribution processes and controls at the planetary scale. 2) Develop the tools to analyze climate data over a range of temporal and spatial scales, from regional historical data to global geologic data. 3) Develop understanding of climate models and simulations from global to regional scale, including the limitations and uncertainties of simulations over short-long temporal scales. 4) Develop an understanding of the primary literature of global change and be able to write and orally present this information.