Courses

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Undergraduate Courses

Fall 2022
Modeling the Earth System: Assessing Strategies for Mitigating Climate Change
Subject associations
ENV 367 / GEO 367
This course is an introduction to earth system modeling for students interested in global environmental issues. Students will use results from a model coupling ocean, atmosphere and land to examine how the system responds to human activities and natural climate variations. In small groups, they will brainstorm mitigation and geo-engineering solutions, and assess their impact on future warming and the components of the Earth system (e.g. precipitation patterns, ocean acidification). This course is designed to give students a critical thinking about climate models and climate solutions, their strengths and their limitations.
Instructors
Laure Resplandy
Fall 2022
All That Glitters: The Science of Diamond and Gemstones
Subject associations
FRS 158
This course will provide an overview of the scientific study of gemstones. Topics covered will include crystallography, crystal structures, and optical properties of gems. Diamonds and gems will be used to illustrate geological concepts such as plate tectonics and our planet's deep interior. The course will also examine recent analytical advances for constraining the provenance of historical gems as well as new applications of gemstones in modern technology. The course will make use of Princeton's large gem collection for hands-on demonstrations and activities and will include a field trip to the American Museum of Natural History.
Instructors
Thomas Duffy
Fall 2022
Earth: Crops, Culture, and Climate (in Italy)
Subject associations
FRS 161
In this course you will combine satellite remote sensing and geological and geophysical field observations with modeling, interpretation, and reporting, to answer questions on the impact of climate, topography, and geography on agricultural crop production. 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? How do climate and topography influence what can be grown? In the classroom, around campus, and on the required field trip to rural Italy, you will gain practical experience collecting data, analyzing them statistically, and reporting them.
Additional description
Instructors
Adam Maloof
Frederik Simons
Fall 2022
Climate: Past, Present, and Future
Subject associations
GEO 102A / ENV 102A / STC 102A
Which human activities are changing our climate, and does climate change constitute a major 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 impact of past and ongoing climate changes on the global environment and on humanity. Finally, we will draw on climate science to identify and evaluate possible courses of action. Intended to be accessible to students not concentrating in science or engineering, while providing a comprehensive overview appropriate for all students.
Instructors
Daniel Sigman
Fall 2022
Climate: Past, Present, and Future
Subject associations
GEO 102B / ENV 102B / STC 102B
Which human activities are changing our climate, and does climate change constitute a major 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 impact of past and ongoing climate changes on the global environment and on humanity. Finally, we will draw on climate science to identify and evaluate possible courses of action. Intended to be accessible to students not concentrating in science or engineering, while providing a comprehensive overview appropriate for all students.
Instructors
Daniel Sigman
Fall 2022
Fundamentals of Solid Earth Science
Subject associations
GEO 203 / ENE 203
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 (depending on Covid).
Additional description

INSTRUCTORS: STAFF TBD

Fall 2022
Earth's Atmosphere
Subject associations
GEO 361 / ENV 361 / CEE 360
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 Fueglistaler
Fall 2022
Earth History
Subject associations
GEO 362 / ENV 362
This course seeks to understand the 'how' of Earth history by integrating many branches of Earth system science including geochronology, paleomagnetism, tectonics, petrology, paleoclimate, sedimentology, geochemistry, and geobiology. Through a detailed study of the relevant datasets, models, and theories, students in this course will engage and struggle with these seemingly disparate fields to arrive at a better understanding of how an imperfect geologic record can be used to produce an accurate representation of our planet's history.
Instructors
John Higgins
Fall 2022
Environmental Chemistry: Chemistry of the Natural Systems
Subject associations
GEO 363 / CHM 331 / ENV 331
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 Myneni
Fall 2022
Microbial Life - A Geobiological View
Subject associations
GEO 416 / ENV 418
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
Fall 2022
Data, Models, and Uncertainty in the Natural Sciences
Subject associations
GEO 422
This course is for those who want to turn data into models and subsequently evaluate their uniqueness and uncertainty. Three main topics are: 1. Elementary inferential statistics, 2. Model parameter estimation via matrix inverse methods, and 3. Time series analysis and Fourier spectral density estimation. Problem sets and computer programming exercises form integral parts of the course. While the instructor's and textbook examples will be derived mostly from the physical sciences, students are encouraged to bring their own data sets for discussion. Prior programming experience in MATLAB is helpful but not required.
Instructors
Frederik Simons
Fall 2022
Introduction to Ocean Physics for Climate
Subject associations
GEO 425 / MAE 425
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 Legg
Gabriel Vecchi
Fall 2022
Geodynamics
Subject associations
GEO 442 / PHY 442
An advanced introduction to setting up and solving boundary value problems relevant to the solid earth sciences. Topics include heat flow, fluid flow, elasticity and plate flexure, and rock rheology, with applications to mantle convection, magma transport, lithospheric deformation, structural geology, and fault mechanics.
Instructors
Allan Rubin

Graduate Courses

Fall 2022
Fundamentals of the Geosciences II
Subject associations
GEO 506
A survey of fundamental papers in the Geosciences. Topics include present and future climate, biogeochemical processes in the ocean, geochemical cycles, orogenies, thermochronology, Earth structure and mechanics, and seismicity. This is the core geosciences graduate course.
Instructors
Stephan Fueglistaler
Ching-Yao Lai
Adam Maloof
Laure Resplandy
Allan Rubin
Gabriel Vecchi
Fall 2022
Earth's Atmosphere
Subject associations
GEO 561 / ENV 561
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 Fueglistaler