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Course Detail

Climate Systems: Present and Past

Instructor
Backus

The climate of the Earth is changing. It has always changed. It will continue to change. How do we assess the impact of humanity on climate? We need to understand how our Earth system works, now and in the past, if we expect to predict our climatic future. This course looks at the current climate system and explores the Earth archives that illuminate our climatic past.  Topics covered include: The Earth energy budget; the role of carbon dioxide and methane in short-term and long-term climate cycles; orbital cycles and the ice ages; Earth as a snowball; the Greenhouse Earth; ice cores and tree rings; oceanic and atmospheric circulation systems; and the impact of human activity on climate. Class discussions, demonstrations, and exercises provide opportunities for students to apply their knowledge and practice analytical techniques.

Satisfies depth and breadth course requirement in the Natural Science track of the Environmental Studies major or interdisciplinary minor.

Satisfies a requirement in Liberal Studies


Prerequisites: