MAST 226 The Oceans and Climate (W)

Last offered Spring 2015

Cross Listed as ENVI226, GEOS226
The oceans are a fundamental part of Earth's climate system. Ocean currents redistribute heat and water vapor around the globe, controlling temperature and precipitation patterns. Marine phytoplankton blooms and air-sea gas exchange modulate the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. The dynamic interaction of the atmosphere and the sea surface results in multi-year climate variations such as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. This course will examine gradual and abrupt climate shifts from Earth's history and the ocean's role in driving, amplifying or dampening the changes, the ocean's response to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, and the projected impacts of continued emissions and climate change on the ocean in the coming decades and millennia. We will analyze articles from the scientific literature that lay out the theory on the ocean's influence on climate, reconstruct past climate and ocean changes, test the mechanisms responsible for those changes, and with that knowledge, project the consequences of continued anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Topics may include the climate effects of opening and closing seaways with plate tectonics, ocean feedbacks that amplify the intensity of ice ages, the instability of ocean circulation during ice-sheet retreat, the evolution of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation with changing carbon dioxide through the geologic past and the next century, ocean heat and carbon dioxide uptake during the last century and into the future, and the impact on sea level, seafloor methane reservoirs, ocean acidification, oxygenation and marine ecosystems.
Class Format: tutorial
Requirements/Evaluation: each student will write five 5-page position papers; evaluation based on the critical analysis of reading from the scientific literature through writing and discussion
Additional Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis, not available for the fifth course option
Additional Info2:
Prerequisites: GEOS 104, GEOS 210 or permission of instructor
Enrollment Preference: sophomores and juniors
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Divisional Attributes: Division III,Writing Intensive
Other Attributes: ENVI Natural World Electives,ENVS Group EB-B Electives,ENVS Group EG-B Electives,ENVS Group EG-C Electives,MAST Interdepartmental Electives,SCST Related Courses
Enrollment Limit: 10
Expected Enrollment: 10
Class Number: 4056
MAST 226 TUT The Oceans and Climate (W) Division 3: Science and MathematicsWriting Intensive Mea S. Cook
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