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Course Details

Fall 2011-2012
GEO 430  

Climate and the Terrestrial Biosphere

David M. Medvigy

Earth's climate is inextricably intertwined with the terrestrial biosphere. In this course, we will explore the key mechanisms that link climate (e.g., cloudiness, rainfall, and temperature) with the terrestrial biosphere (e.g., ecosystem composition, structure, and functioning), and how these mechanisms are altered by humans. We will review basic aspects of climate, surface energy balances, and terrestrial plant ecology, and then investigate feedbacks and forcings arising from biophysical properties of the land surface, biogeographical properties of ecosystems, deforestation, fires, increases in atmospheric CO2, and other factors.

Sample reading list:
Bonan, Gordon (2008), Ecological Climatology. Cambridge Univ. press, Cambridge NY
Bonan, G.B. (2008), Forests & climate change; Science 320:1444-49
Cochrane, M.A. (2003), Fire science for rainforests; Nature 421: 913-19
Feddema,J.J. etal (2005a), The importance land-cover change... Science 310:1674-78
Trouet, V. etal (2006), Fire-climate intractins forest... Geophys Res Let 33(L18704)
Westerling, A.L. etal (2006), Warming & earlier spring increase... Science 313:94-43
See instructor for complete list

Reading/Writing assignments:
Students will be responsible for assigned chapters in the text. Nine problem sets will be assigned over the course of the semester. Each student will select one paper from the scientific literature that is relevant to the topics covered in class and present the key result of the paper to their classmates in a 12-15 min. presentation.

Requirements/Grading:
Mid Term Exam - 20%
Take Home Final Exam - 25%
Oral Presentation(s) - 25%
Problem set(s) - 30%

Other Requirements:
Not Open to Freshmen.

Prerequisites and Restrictions:
GEO 202 or equivalent.

Schedule/Classroom assignment:

Class numberSectionTimeDaysRoomEnrollmentStatus
20513 L01 3:00 pm - 4:20 pm T Th   Guyot Hall   154   Enrolled:12 Limit:30