Undergraduate Courses

Spring 2020

Global Air Pollution
Students will study the chemical and physical processes involved in the sources, transformation, transport, and sinks of air pollutants on local to global scales. Societal problems such as photochemical smog, particulate matter, greenhouse gases, and stratospheric ozone depletion will be investigated using fundamental concepts in chemistry, physics, and engineering. For the class project, students will select a trace gas species or family of gases and analyze recent field and remote sensing data based upon material covered in the course. Environments to be studied include very clean, remote portions of the globe to urban air quality.
Instructors: Mark Andrew Zondlo
Engineering the Climate: Technical & Policy Challenges
This seminar focuses on the science, engineering, policy and ethics of climate engineering -- the deliberate human intervention in the world climate in order to reduce global warming. Climate/ocean models and control theory are introduced. The technology, economics, and climate response for the most favorable climate engineering methods (carbon dioxide removal, solar radiation management) are reviewed. Policy and ethics challenges are discussed.
Instructors: Egemen Kolemen
Natural Disasters
An introduction to natural (and some society-induced) hazards and the importance of public understanding of the issues related to them. Emphasis is on the geological processes that underlie the hazards, with discussion of relevant policy issues tied to reading recent newspaper/popular science articles. Principal topics: Earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, tsunami, hurricanes, floods, meteorite impacts, global warming. Intended primarily for non-science majors.
Instructors: Allan Mattathias Rubin
Ocean, Atmosphere, and Climate
The ocean and the atmosphere control Earth's climate, and in turn climate and atmospheric changes influence the ocean. We explore what sets the temperature of Earth's atmosphere and the connections between oceanic and atmospheric circulation's including exchanges of heat and carbon. We then investigate how these circulation's control marine ecosystems and the cycling of chemicals in the ocean. The final part of the course focuses on human impacts, including changes in coastal environments and the acidification resulting from increased atmospheric carbon dioxide. One three-hour laboratory complements lectures.
Instructors: Laure Resplandy
Geochemistry of the Human Environment
Humans have profoundly altered the chemistry of Earth's air, water, and soil. This course explores these changes with an emphasis on the analytical techniques used to measure the human impact. Topics include the accumulation of greenhouse gases (CO2 and CH4) in Earth's atmosphere and the contamination of drinking water at the tap and in the ground. Students will get hands on training in mass spectrometry and spectroscopy to determine the chemical composition of air, water, and soil and will participate in an outreach project aimed at providing chemical analyses of urban tap waters to residents of Trenton, NJ.
Instructors: John Andrew Higgins
This course presents a treatment of the physical and chemical processes that shape Earth's surface, such as solar radiation, deformation of the solid Earth, and the flow of water (vapor, liquid, and solid) under the influence of gravity. In particular,the generation, transport, and preservation of sediment in response to these processes is studied in order to better read stories of Earth history in the geologic record and to better understand processes involved in modern and ancient environmental change.
Instructors: Adam C. Maloof
Microbial Life - A Geobiological View
Microbes were the first life forms on Earth and are the most abundant life forms today. Their metabolisms underpin the cycling of carbon, nitrogen, and other important elements through Earth systems. This course will cover the fundamentals of microbial physiology and ecology and examine how microbial activities have shaped modern and ancient environments, with the goal of illustrating the profound influence of microbial life on our planet for over 3 billion years.
Instructors: Xinning Zhang
Environmental Aqueous Geochemistry
Application of quantitative chemical principles to the study of natural waters. Includes equilibrium computations, carbonate system, gas exchange, precipitation/dissolution of minerals, coordination of trace metals, redox reactions in water and sediments.
Instructors: Anne M. Morel-Kraepiel
Biological Oceanography
Fundamentals of Biological Oceanography, with an emphasis on the ecosystem level. We will consider the organisms in the context of their chemical and physical environment; the properties of seawater, atmosphere and ocean dynamics that affect life in the ocean; primary production and marine food webs; global cycles of carbon and other elements; current research approaches. In addition to lectures by the professors, the course will delve deeply into the current and classic literature of oceanography and students will be expected to participate in seminar type presentations and discussions.
Instructors: Bess Ward
Computational Geophysics
An introduction to weak numerical methods, in particular finite-element and spectral-element methods, used in computational geophysics. Basic surface & volume elements, representation of fields, quadrature, assembly, local versus global meshes, domain decomposition, time marching & stability, parallel implementation & message-passing, and load-balancing. In the context of parameter estimation and 'imaging', will explore data assimilation techniques and related adjoint methods. The course offers hands-on lab experience in meshing complicated surfaces & volumes as well as numerically solving partial differential equations relevant to geophysics
Instructors: Jeroen Tromp
Quantifying Geologic Time
This course explores the theory and application of the different ways that the vastness of geologic time is quantified and applied to understanding the rates and sequences of events in Earth history. It focuses on radiogenic isotope geochemistry and geochronology but also will cover other methods such as astrochronology and the geomagnetic polarity timescale. We apply these methods to understanding processes such as the origins of Earth and the Solar System, the rates and causes of mass extinctions and climate change, and the rates of plate tectonics, magmatism, and supereruptions
Instructors: Blair Schoene

Graduate Courses

Spring 2020

Responsible Conduct of Research in Geosciences (Half-Term)
Course educates Geosciences and AOS students in the responsible conduct of research using case studies appropriate to these disciplines. This discussion-based course focuses on issues related to the use of scientific data, publication practices and responsible authorship, peer review, research misconduct, conflicts of interest, the role of mentors & mentees, issues encountered in collaborative research and the role of scientists in society. Successful completion is based on attendance, reading, and active participation in class discussions. Course satisfies University requirement for RCR training.
Fundamentals of the Geosciences
A yearlong survey, in sequence, of fundamental papers in the geosciences. Topics in 505 (Spring) include the origin and interior of the Earth, plate tectonics, geodynamics, the history of life on Earth, the composition of the Earth, its oceans and atmospheres, past climate. Topics in 506 (Fall) include present and future climate, biogeochemical processes in the ocean, geochemical cycles, orogenies, thermochronology, rock fracture and seismicity. A core course for all beginning graduate students in the geosciences.
Instructors: John Andrew Higgins, Gerta Keller, Tullis C. Onstott, Allan Mattathias Rubin, Daniel Mikhail Sigman, Frederik Jozef Simons, Jeroen Tromp
Southern Ocean Seminar
The Southern Ocean is central to many questions regarding global climate and environmental conditions. The course reviews and evaluates the field's current understanding of the Southern Ocean: its modern processes, physical, chemical, and biological; its geologic origins; its evolution through geologic time and over orbital cycles; and predictions for its future. The course is composed of introductory lectures, topical presentations by members of Princeton University's academic community, and student-led presentations that draw from recent and ongoing research.
Instructors: Daniel Mikhail Sigman
Chemistry of Natural Interfaces
This course covers the chemistry of interfacial reactions at the solid-water, air-water, liquid-water, and organism-water that are pertinent to the nature. The molecular structure and properties of the natural interfaces, water chemistry at the interfaces, and applications of thermodynamics, and recently developed in situ spectroscopic and microscopic methods to study these systems is discussed. Special emphasis is on the applications of interfacial chemistry in environmental chemistry.
Instructors: Satish Chandra Babu Myneni
Topics in Paleoecology, Paleoclimatology, and Paleoceanography: Environmental and Biotic Effects of Volcanism
This course surveys new developments in volcanism, including rate of eruptions, rapid climate changes, ocean acidification and the environmental and biological effects leading to mass extinctions and delayed recovery. Examples include Deccan volcanism (India) at the KT mass extinction and delayed biotic recovery, as well as the end-Triassic and Permo-Triassic extinction events.
Instructors: Gerta Keller