Courses

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Undergraduate Courses

Fall 2019

Climate: Past, Present, and Future
Which human activities are changing our climate, and does climate change constitute a significant problem? We will investigate these questions through an introduction to climate processes and an exploration of climate from the distant past to today. We will also consider the implications of climate change for the global environment and humans. Intended to be accessible to students not concentrating in science or engineering.
Instructors: Daniel Mikhail Sigman
Climate: Past, Present, and Future
Which human activities are changing our climate, and does climate change constitute a significant problem? We will investigate these questions through an introduction to climate processes and an exploration of climate from the distant past to today. We will also consider the implications of climate change for the global environment and humans. Intended to be accessible to students not concentrating in science or engineering.
Instructors: Daniel Mikhail Sigman
Fundamentals of Solid Earth Science
A quantitative introduction to Solid Earth system science, focusing on the underlying physical and chemical processes and their geological and geophysical expression. Through the course we investigate the Earth starting from its basic constituents and continue though its accretion, differentiation and evolution and discuss how these processes create and sustain habitable conditions on Earth's surface. Topics include nucleosynthesis, planetary thermodynamics, plate tectonics, seismology, geomagnetism, petrology, sedimentology and the global carbon cycle. Two field trips included.
Instructors: Jessica Claire Elizabeth Irving
Life in the Universe
This course introduces students to a new field, Astrobiology, where scientists trained in biology, chemistry, astronomy and geology combine their skills to discover life's origins and to seek extraterrestrial life. Topics include: the origin of life on Earth; the prospects of life on Mars, Europa, Enceladus and extra-solar planets. Students will also compete in class to select landing sites and payloads for the next robotic missions to Mars and Europa. 255A is the core course for the Planets and Life certificate.
Instructors: Christopher F. Chyba, Michael H. Hecht, Tullis C. Onstott, Edwin Lewis Turner
Environmental Fluid Mechanics
The course starts by introducing the conservation principles and related concepts used to describe fluids and their behavior. Mass conservation is addressed first, with a focus on its application to pollutant transport problems in environmental media. Momentum conservation, including the effects of buoyancy and earth's rotation, is then presented. Fundamentals of heat transfer are then combined with the first law of thermodynamics to understand the coupling between heat and momentum transport. We then proceed to apply these laws to study air and water flows in various environmental systems, with a focus on the atmospheric boundary layer.
Instructors: Elie R. Bou-Zeid
Earth's Atmosphere
This course discusses the processes that control Earth's climate - and as such the habitability of Earth - with a focus on the atmosphere and the global hydrological cycle. The course balances overview lectures (also covering topics that have high media coverage like the 'Ozone hole' and 'Global warming', and the impact of volcanoes on climate) with selected in-depth analyses. The lectures are complemented with homework based on real data, demonstrating basic data analysis techniques employed in climate sciences.
Instructors: Stephan Andreas Fueglistaler
Environmental Chemistry: Chemistry of the Natural Systems
Covers topics including origin of elements; formation of the Earth; evolution of the atmosphere and oceans; atomic theory and chemical bonding; crystal chemistry and ionic substitution in crystals; reaction equilibria and kinetics in aqueous and biological systems; chemistry of high-temperature melts and crystallization process; and chemistry of the atmosphere, soil, marine and riverine environments. The biogeochemistry of contaminants and their influence on the environment will also be discussed.
Instructors: Satish Chandra Babu Myneni
Modeling the Earth System: Assessing Strategies for Mitigating Climate Change
This course is an introduction to earth system modeling for students interested in global environmental issues. Students will use a "compact" or "reduced" earth system model, including the ocean, the land and the atmosphere, to examine how the system responds to human activities and natural climate variations. In small groups, they will design mitigation and geo-engineering scenarii (reforestation, carbon capture, emission limitation etc.), test their impact using the model and analyze and discuss their results. This course is designed to give students a critical thinking about climate models, their strengths and their limitations.
Instructors: Laure Resplandy
Global Geophysics
An introduction to the fundamental principles of global geophysics. Four parts, taught over three weeks each in an order allowing the material to build up to form a final coherent picture of (how we know) the structure and evolution of the solid Earth: 1. Gravity and 2. Magnetism: the description and study of the Earth's magnetic and gravitational fields. 3. Seismology: body waves, surface waves and free oscillations. 4. Geodynamics: heat flow, cooling of the Earth, and mantle convection. The emphasis is on physical principles including the mathematical derivation and solution of the governing equations.
Instructors: Frederik Jozef Simons
Structural Geology
An introduction to the physics and geometry of brittle and ductile deformation in Earth's crust. Deformation is considered at scales from atomic to continental, in the context of mountain building, rifting, and the origin of topography.
Instructors: Blair Schoene
Introduction to Ocean Physics for Climate
The study of the oceans as a major influence on the atmosphere and the world environment. The contrasts between the properties of the upper and deep oceans; the effects of stratification; the effect of rotation; the wind-driven gyres; the thermohaline circulation.
Instructors: Sonya Allayne Legg, Gabriel Andres Vecchi
Fundamentals of the Earth's Climate System
The goal of the course is to provide students with an introductory overview of the broad factors that determine our current climate, as well as past and future climates. We first build a foundation for understanding the principal features of today's climate. This includes examining the Earth's energy and water cycles, the processes determining the principal atmospheric and ocean circulation features, climate feedback processes, and dominant modes of variability. We then use this framework to interpret observational records of past climates, including ice age cycles, and to examine projections of future climate change.
Instructors: Thomas L. Delworth
Introduction to Water Pollution Technology
An introduction to the science of water quality management and pollution control in natural systems; fundamentals of biological and chemical transformations in natural waters; indentification of sources of pollution; water and wastewater treatment methods; fundamentals of water quality modeling.
Instructors: Peter R. Jaffé

Graduate Courses

Fall 2019

Atmospheric Radiative Transfer
Structure and composition of terrestrial atmospheres. Fundamental aspects of electromagnetic radiation. Absorption and emission by atmospheric gases. Optical extinction of particles. Roles of atmospheric species in Earth's radiative energy balance. Perturbation of climate due to natural and antropogenic causes. Satellite observations of climate system.
Instructors: Yi Ming, Venkatachalam Ramaswamy
Fundamentals of the Geosciences II
A survey of fundamental papers in the Geosciences. Topics include present and future climate, biogeochemical processes in the ocean, geochemical cycles, orogenies, thermochronology, rock fracture and seismicity. This is the core geosciences graduate course.
Instructors: Tullis C. Onstott
Geomicrobiology
High throughput sequencing has transformed environmental microbiology, but dealing with the massive datasets is daunting. This course familiarizes students with the approaches used in assembly and annotation of metagenomes, single-cell genomes and metatranscriptomes and how to utilize the processed data to address phylogenetic and functional diversity in the environment. The course uses a combination of lectures, readings drawn from the literature, and hands-on processing of genomic datasets using a variety of freeware tools, R and Python. Upperclassmen are welcome.
Instructors: Tullis C. Onstott
Rock Fracture
Application of fracture mechanics to a wide range of geologic processes, including dike and hydrofracture propagation, fault and joint growth and earthquake rupture. Topics include engineering fracture mechanics, analytic solutions for cracks in elastic media, numerical boundary element methods, and applications to geologic examples including observed fracture paths and patterns, small-scale structures associated with faults and dikes, and interpretation of geodetic data and seismological data.
Instructors: Allan Mattathias Rubin
Theoretical Geophysics
Geophysical applications of the principles of continuum mechanics; conservation laws and constitutive relations and tensor analysis; acoustic, elastic, and gravity wave propagation are studied.
Instructors: Jeroen Tromp
Earth's Atmosphere
This course discusses the processes that control Earth's climate - and as such the habitability of Earth - with a focus on the atmosphere and the global hydrological cycle. The course balances overview lectures (also covering topics that have high media coverage like the "Ozone hole" and "Global warming," and the impact of volcanoes on climate) with selected in-depth analyses. The lectures are complemented with homework based on real data, demonstrating basic data analysis techniques employed in climate sciences.
Instructors: Stephan Andreas Fueglistaler

Freshman Seminar

Fall 2019

FRS 161 
Earth: Crops, Culture, and Climate (in Italy) 
 
STL (Th 1:30-4:20 PM)

INSTRUCTORS: Adam Maloof and Frederik Simons

In this Freshman Seminar, you will combine scientific field observations with modeling and interpretation in order to answer questions such as: How is the energy of Earth and the Sun harnessed in its various forms? What is the impact of agriculture and resource extraction on landscapes — and how do climate and topography influence what can be grown, what can be mined, where humans settle? How have civilizations through the ages reconciled opportunity and threat: of fertile volcanoes, powerful rivers, burning forests? How do we see societal issues through the lens of geology and geophysics? Most specifically, we will be measuring the influence of climate, topography, and geology on agricultural food production.

More details: Office of the Registrar