Courses

Biosphere 2 Ocean Virtual Field Trip! (for Ocean Sciences, GEOS/ECOL 412B)

We created a virtual field trip at the Biosphere 2 Ocean for our Ocean Sciences students, after our Southern California field trip was cancelled. The video introduces students to many of the organisms, oceanographic equipment, and concepts they would have observed on the field trip. Although it has some class and timeline specific references, I hope it will be broadly useful for marine science students widely (especially during these difficult times). Enjoy, and please share with colleagues!

Videography: Dr. Martin Pepper, the incredibly talented videographer and geoscience educator. Check out his youtube page for more excellent geoscience videos and demonstrations: https://www.youtube.com/user/MrMoosek…

Featuring: Diane Thompson, Director of Marine Research, Biosphere 2 & Assistant Professor, Department of Geosciences. Katie Morgan, Manager of Marine Systems, Biosphere 2

GEOS/ECOL 412 A/B: Ocean Sciences

412A offers an overview of the ocean sciences for undergraduate students with some scientific background. This course will broaden the exposure of UA undergraduates to marine science in a cross-disciplinary context. Students considering a career or graduate school in marine science will find this class a useful preview of the different areas of marine science, and students interested in natural or environmental sciences will gain a better understanding of the many linkages between the ocean and the broader natural world. We will cover the role of the ocean in diverse components of the Earth system, including geological, biological, climatic, and human aspects.  Examples of themes we will cover include:

  • The origin and nature of the ocean basins
  • Waves, tides, tsunamis and coastal processes
  • The organisms that live in the ocean, their ecological communities and their interactions
  • The ocean’s role in climate variability and climate change
  • Marine resources and human influences on the oceans

The prerequisite for this class is at least one year of a natural science class for majors (not NATS). Assignments will include quantitative problem sets and web-based data analyses.

412B is the separate lab portion of the course, which consists of a three day (Mar. 20-22) field trip to southern California (including a half day cruise on a research ship out of L.A. Harbor) and several other preparatory and scheduled hands-on lab exercises. Because of the limited number of people that can be accommodated on the ship during the field trip the lab is capped at 26 students.


ECOL 463/563: Ecology & Natural History of the Sonoran Desert & Upper Gulf of California (Pre-session 2019)

ECOL 463 Field Course Flyer


Previously taught (at Boston University)

Modes of Climate Variability (CAS ES 520)

Natural variability in the Earth’s climate system is generated by complex physical processes that govern the redistribution of energy and moisture over a rotating sphere with heterogeneous boundary conditions. Despite this complexity, much of the variability in the Earth’s climate system on interannual to decadal time scales can be explained by a few major modes (“patterns”) of climate variability. In this course, we discuss these major modes of climate variability, including: El Nino-Southern Oscillation, Pacific Decadal Oscillation, Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, Monsoons, and Annular Modes. We assess the dynamics/physical mechanisms driving these modes of variability and their impact on weather, climate and society. We also investigate the evolution of each mode through time, using paleoclimatic evidence to assess how they have changed in the past and climate model simulations to project how they are expected to change in the future.   By assessing the evolution of these modes of variability and the physical mechanisms behind them, we gain an improved understanding of how changes in climate forcing (e.g., greenhouse gases, solar radiation, volcanic eruptions) affect global and regional climate. The class is a mixture of lectures, discussions, and student presentations.

Modes of Climate Variability Syllabus Spring 2018

ES520 Spring 2018 Schedule

Climate and Earth System Science (CAS ES 107)

Earth is a remarkable, complex, and ever-changing planet. The rise of humans is a relatively recent event in Earth history, but in the short time we have been here, humans have heavily altered many aspects of our planet. As the global population grows to between nine and thirteen billion people by the end of the 21st Century, never has it been more important for society to understand how the Earth’s climate, oceans, and terrestrial ecosystems function as an integrated system that supports life and society as we know it. The goal of this course is provide an integrated and systematic understanding of how the natural and physical systems of Planet Earth function. The course treats the Earth as a dynamic system, comprised of interacting sub-systems (oceans, atmosphere, biosphere, lithosphere, etc.) that exhibit properties of internal feedback regulation and stability. A core theme of the course is that change and variability are core properties of the Earth system that arise from complex interactions among its physical and biogeochemical subsystems. As part of this, we will explore how human activities alter the fundamental properties of the Earth system. Laboratory exercises will examine Earth system processes at both local and global scales, and will focus on local, regional and global processes to illustrate concepts discussed in lecture. This course serves as a foundation for the CAS major in Earth and Environmental Science, and as a natural science divisional studies elective.

ES107 Syllabus Spring 2017

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