GEOS 226
The Oceans and Climate Spring 2015
Division III Writing Skills
Cross-listed GEOS 226 / ENVI 226 / ENVI 252 / MAST 226
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

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.
The Class: Format: tutorial
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 3247
Grading: OPG
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
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis
Prerequisites: GEOS 104, GEOS 210 or permission of instructor
Enrollment Preferences: sophomores and juniors
Distributions: Division III Writing Skills
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
GEOS 226 Division III ENVI 226 Division III ENVI 252 Division III MAST 226 Division III
Attributes: ENVI Natural World Electives
ENVS Group EB-B Electives
ENVS Group EG-B Electives
MAST Interdepartmental Electives

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