- Code EMSC6027
- Unit Value 6 units
- 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
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.
This course examines how geoscientists reconstruct climate changes in the past 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. Students 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.
NOTE: Postgraduate students will attend classes with undergraduate students but will be assessed differently.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
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 depth 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. Critically evaluate the likely causes of future climate change and assess potential impacts on feedback mechanisms.
5. Inform peers on how understanding past climate systems is important to the current debates about climate change.
Assessment will be based on:
• 3 exams - 25% each (75%) LO 1-4
• 3 assignments - 5% each (15%) LO 1-4
• 1 class presentation - 10% LO 5
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A maximum of 39 hours of lectures/tutorials and 26 hours of practicals.
Requisite and Incompatibility
Prescribed TextsRecommended but not essential:
W.F. Ruddiman, Earth’s Climate: Past and Future (2008), Freeman and Company, New York.
Bachelor degree including Chemistry and Earth Science/Geology content.
Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.
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- Student Contribution Band:
- 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.
Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.
|Class number||Class start date||Last day to enrol||Census date||Class end date||Mode Of Delivery||Class Summary|
|8342||18 Jul 2016||29 Jul 2016||31 Aug 2016||28 Oct 2016||In Person||N/A|