Overview of Course
Global Environmental Systems (NR 130) will explore the earth’s ecosystems (atmosphere, ocean, geosphere and biosphere) and the current impacts of rapid environmental change. We will consider how we impact the atmosphere, how in turn it impacts us, and its interaction with the biosphere. Climate change will be important theme. Changes in temperature and human activities (e.g. deforestation, biomass burning) alter the terrestrial environment, the associated atmosphere and oceans, with rapidly changing global consequences. We will study the ocean to gain a basic understanding of its physics, chemistry and biology and how recent change has impacted the different ocean basins. We will focus on the polar regions as they are unique and fragile environments. We will examine the geological processes that shape our planet and how they affect climate and life, now and in the past. The planet has changed dramatically over geological time. People today face enormous environmental challenges and traditional lives are being altered by climate change, pollution and human interventions. As we transition between ocean regions, environmental changes will be visible from the ship, as well as on land, and they will focus our discussion. Overall, the course will examine the underlying environmental forces exacerbating recent global environmental challenges.