GC1_roadmap_ben - The Global Change Program at the

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Global Change:
Physical Processes
A “Road Map”
Course Objectives
• Understand Earth as an integrated system:
– Change and evolution (stars, solar
systems, soils, and life evolve from precursors)
– Underlying physical and natural processes
and how they are integrated
– Variability and uncertainty (climate has
always varied, prediction is difficult in
complex systems)
– Human alteration of Earth's physical and
biological systems
Responder Question:
Do you believe the Big Bang
hypothesis for the origin of the
Evolution of the Universe and
• Evidence for the Big Bang
• The formation of stars and elements
• How the structure of earth and the
atmosphere is characterized
• Lab: the energy balance of earth; Why aren’t
we as hot as Venus?
Geology of the Evolving Planet
• The layered earth
• Natural hazards
• Plate tectonics
• Lab: topography and hazards
• How is soil formed?
• The emergence of complex life
• The fossil record
Speciation and Competition
• Darwin’s theory of evolution
• Communities and food webs
• Lab:
– How humans affect the evolution of other
species (the peppered moth example)
– Modeling of predator-prey relationships
Responder Question:
Do you believe the theory that increased
carbon dioxide and other greenhouse
gases released into the atmosphere lead
to global warming and an increase in
average global temperatures?
The Study of Climate
• Evolution of atmospheric oxygen
• Warming potential of greenhouse
• Ocean circulation and El Niño
• Climate models: Predictions
• Lab: Study original data from ice
Responder Question:
Do you think that global warming is, or is not,
probably a cause of the large number of
forest wildfires in the West?
A. Is not a cause
B. Is probably a cause
C. Not sure
Results from Americans Polled
in 2000:
Do you think that global warming is, or is not, probably
a cause of the large number of forest wildfires in
the West?
A. Is not a cause (54.1 %)
B. Is probably a cause (35.5%)
C. Not sure (10.10%)
Source: the Odum Institute
Human Interaction With the
Air quality
Feedback mechanisms
The human response
• Lab:
– Regional trends in temperature change
– Modeling how policies have changed the rate of
ozone depletion
Responder Question:
Do you think that it is important to our survival
to preserve Earth’s biodiversity?
Not sure
No opinion
The Ecosystem
Microbes and energy transformations
Global element cycles
Effects of elevated atmospheric CO2
The flow of energy and production
Tropical rain forests
• Lab: Modeling the global carbon and
hydrological cycles
You Are the Researcher
• You will have a chance to examine original research
on a global change topic and present it to your
classmates and instructors
• Projects are done in groups of 2-4 and will be turned
in as a web page at the end of the term
Some examples
of past projects
are on the web.
You will get more
Information from
Your GSI later.
• Global Change encompasses all of the ways
that our planet has been changing since its
formation ~4.5 billion years ago
• Humans are affecting Earth and its life
support systems at an unprecedented rate,
which poses a new challenge to our planet