• Offered by Research School of Earth Sciences
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Course subject Earth and Marine Science
  • Areas of interest Earth and Marine Sciences
  • Academic career Undergraduate
  • Course convener
    • Dr Jimin Yu
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course EMSC6027
  • Offered in Second Semester 2018
    See Future Offerings

There are considerable concerns about how rising atmospheric CO2 will affect Earth's climate and marine biogeochemistry in the future. Computer simulations are used to predict future climate changes, but these projections remain very uncertain and the capacity of climate models to reproduce long-term change needs to be thoroughly tested. The only way to do this is by testing model performance against geological archives of past climate changes.

You will examine how geoscientists reconstruct past climate changes combining data from the oceans, atmosphere, ice sheets, land surfaces, and vegetation, and how these relate to reconstructed changes in energy supply from the sun. One important topic that we will cover, for example, concerns the reasons for past atmospheric CO2 changes, and how these influenced the global climate.

The course covers the essential aspects needed for understanding the Earth's climate system such as Earth's energy balance; climate sensitivity; sea level and ice sheet changes; ocean circulation changes; nutrient cycling and atmospheric CO2 variations. You will learn how the geochemistry of natural palaeoclimate archives and numerical models are used to reconstruct the history of the climate system and identify the causes of climate change. Geochemical tools and proxies used to reconstruct climate changes through Earth's history will be explained. You will learn how to use box models to understand nutrient cycling and atmospheric CO2 changes. We will look in more detail at: the nature of, and relationships between, high-resolution ice-core records from Greenland and Antarctica; abrupt climate changes; the factors that affect short-term climate variability in Australia and how these are currently changing; and the science related to common misconceptions in climate change discussions. A key outcome of this course will be a firm understanding of the physical, chemical, and biological processes that control Earth's climate, and how they may interact to modulate climate change in the future.

In addition to research-based lectures and practicals, journal articles of greater conceptual difficulty will be made available for students who wish to explore their personal interests in climate change. The teaching material is focused around areas of active palaeoclimate research and presents students with an overview of the latest international scientific understanding of past climate changes and their relevance to the future.

Honours Pathway Option (HPO)
Additional readings of greater conceptual difficulty that require an advanced scientific understanding will be made available for students enrolled in the Honours Pathway Option (HPO). HPO students will be asked to answer additional and/or more challenging questions during exams.

 

Learning Outcomes

On satisfying the requirements of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

1.  Explain how the components of Earth’s climate system and carbon cycle have evolved through time.

2. Describe in detail the positive and negative feedbacks in the Earth’s land-ocean-atmosphere system that control climate change on various timescales.

3.  Quantitatively analyse past climate change using elemental and isotopic tracers, palaeoclimate archives, and state-of-the-art geochronology.

4.  Develop a broad scientific basis for evaluating the likely causes and potential impacts of future climate change.

5.  Inform peers on how understanding past climate systems is important to the current debates about climate change.

Indicative Assessment

Assessment will be based on:

• 3 exams  - 25% each (75%) LOs 1-4

• 2 assignments - 5% each (10%) LOs 1-4

• 1 class presentation - 15%   LO 5

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.

Workload

A maximum of 39 hours of lectures/tutorials and 26 hours of practicals.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 6 units of an EMSC 2000 level course. Incompatible with EMSC6027.

Prescribed Texts

Recommended but not essential:
W.F. Ruddiman, Earth’s Climate: Past and Future (2008), Freeman and Company, New York

Assumed Knowledge

The following courses are useful but are not actually required: EMSC 2021, EMSC 2019, EMSC3023, and/or EMSC3032

Majors

Specialisations

Fees

Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Band 2
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

Units EFTSL
6.00 0.12500
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings and Dates

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery
8186 23 Jul 2018 30 Jul 2018 31 Aug 2018 26 Oct 2018 In Person

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