(Thurs, Nov. 8)
Assignment Outline. This assignment consists of three parts:
- become better acquainted with aspects of climate change through critical
reading of the literature, supported by student-led discussions
Candidate Topics to Be Covered. We will cover
at least four
following topic areas (not necessarily in this order):
- Close reading of articles from the recent scientific
literature about planetary climate change. For this part of the assignment,
respond briefly in writing to sets of "reading questions" written
to guide you through the articles. For one set of articles you will
write your own reading questions, to guide other students through the articles.
- Participation in round-table, student-led discussion of
the articles. For one set of articles, you will lead the discussion yourself,
along with one or two partners (assigned by the instructors).
- Researching and writing a paper on the aspect of planetary climate
change covered by the articles about which you led a discussion. The paper
should be based on those articles, plus others that complement them.
- Glacial eras, plate tectonics, mountain building and erosion, and the
long-term carbon cycle: "Snowball" earth, Himalayan uplift,
feedbacks between erosion and mountain building, and climate change on
- Oceans and climate: Past, recent, and future El Ninos and climate:
the role of ocean circulations and air-sea
- Arctic and Antarctic climate change: Ice caps, sea ice,
sea level rise, and climate instability in the high latitudes, where climate
is changing at breakneck speed.
- Global warming and hurricanes: will hurricanes become stronger and perhaps
more frequent, and have they already?
- Aerosols and climate change: volcanic eruptions,
asteroid collisions, and human-caused fires, industrial emissions, and
inject aerosols into the atmosphere—how do they change climate?
- Evolution of the climates of Earth, Venus, and Mars: The Goldilocks
problem: what lessons do Mars and Venus offer Earth?
- Predicting Climate Change: Global warming and modeling
of future climate change; the roles of human vs. natural influences.
We request that you select your first, second, and third choices
among these topics. We can't guarantee that you'll get any of your choices,
do our best. The first student-led discussion will take place on Tues,
Nov. 27, and the last one will be on Thurs, Dec. 6. Each group of two or three
students that leads a discussion will need to make available a set of "reading
the other students as far in advance as possible (but at least two days in
which will be posted
on iLearn. (The group will receive a common
grade for the reading questions it writes.) All other students will turn in
evidence of responses to those reading questions on the
The reading questions that you write for the benefit of the
rest of the class will be worth 5% of your course grade. Your
responses to reading questions written by others
will be worth 10%. Your
co-leadership of one discussion will be worth 5%. Your written paper
will be worth 20% and will be due during finals week (see "Final
Final Writing Assignment
Issued Thursday, November 15. Due Tuesday, Dec 18.
Assignment worth 20% of course grade.
You will soon co-lead a class discussion of the topics addressed
by one of these sets of articles:
- Glacial eras, plate tectonics, mountain building and erosion, and
the long-term carbon cycle
Earth", Hoffman and Schrag, January 2000, Scientific
- "Plateau Uplift and Climate Change",
Ruddiman and Kutzbach, March 1991, Scientific American.
and the Evolution of Mountains", Hodges, August
2006, Scientific American
- Arctic and Antarctic climate change
in the North", Sturm, Perovich, and Serreze, October
2003, Scientific American
on the Arctic's Shrinking Sea-Ice Cover", Serreze,
Holland, and Stroeve, 16 March 2007, Science
- "On Thin Ice",
Bindshadler and Bentley, December 2002, Scientific
Ice Sheet Time Scales", Truffer and Fahnestock, 16
March 2007, Science
Is It Hard to Predict the Future of Ice Sheets?",
Vaughan and Arthern, 16 March 2007, Science
- Global warming and hurricanes
Destructiveness of Tropical Cyclones over the Past 30 Years",
Emanuel, 4 August 2005, Nature
in Tropical Cyclone Number, Duration, and Intensity in a Warming
Environment", Webster, Holland, Curry, and Chang, 12
May 2005, Science
Climate Science", Kerr, 5 May 2006, Science
and Global Warming—Potential Linkages and Consequences",
Anthes, Corell, Holland, Hurell, MacCracken, and Trenberth, May
2006, Bulletin of the Americian Meteorological Society
to 'Hurricanes and Global Warming—Potential Linkages and
Consequences'", Pielke, Landsea, Mayfield, Laver,
and Pasch, May 2006, Bulletin of the Americian
Oceans, Stronger Hurricanes", Trenberth, July
2007, Scientific American
- Oceans and climate
Evolution of El Niño, Past and Future",
Cane, January 2005, Earth and Planetary Science
El Nino Sporadic or Cyclic?", Philander and Fedorov, March
2003, Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Science
for El Nino-like Conditions during the Pliocene",
Ravelo, Dekens, and McCarthy, March 2006, GSA
- Predicting climate change
Modeling", Schneider, May 1987, Scientific
- Chapter 16, "Global Warming", of The Earth System,
2nd Ed., 2004, Kump, Kasting, and Crane
- "The Physical
Science behind Climate Change",
Collins, Colman, Haywood, Manning, and Mote, August 2007, Scientific
Urgent Is Climate Change?", Kerr, 23
November 2007, Science
Additional material relevant to these topics has been (or
will be) provided in class in the form of lab activities, lecture, and reading
assignments from our text, The
Following your in-class discussion, you should:
- locate two or more significant additional articles that relate closely
to the articles on on which you based the discussion that you led; and
- write a 8-12 page (typed, double spaced) overview of the history and current
state of our scientific understanding about the topic(s) covered by your set
of articles, based on the articles themselves plus relevant material presented
in class or in assigned reading. In particular, wherever justified by your
source material, you should try to include in your narrative:
- initial observations/evidence;
- initial hypotheses posed to account for initial observations/evidence
(including external forcings and feedbacks);
- subsequent observations/evidence that have confirmed or disproved earlier
- technology that made making observations/gathering evidence possible
and led to breakthroughs in understanding;
- scientific controversies and how they played out historically or are
currently playing out;
- current understanding and remaining uncertainties.
This assignment is worth 20% of your course grade. (The reading questions
that you write in preparation for the discussion that you lead are worth
of your course grade, and leading the discussion is worth another 5% of
your course grade. Your responses to reading questions written by
for their discussions are worth 10% of your course grade.)
We are looking for clear, concise, logical, smoothly written, accessible narratives.
Of the total value of this assignment, 30% will depend on the quality of your
prose. Clear use of words (defining unfamiliar ones); choice of simpler words
over complex words of equivalent meaning; well constructed, grammatical sentences;
and spelling, are all important. The more active voice that you use (as opposed
to passive voice—that is, the use of forms of the verb "to be": "is",
"are", "was", "were", etc. to hide the subject of the sentence), the happier
we will probably be.
You should document your narrative thoroughly by citing your sources of information
within your narrative, based on the author, year of publication, and wherever
possible, page number(s). For example: "(Ruddiman and Kutzbach [hereafter
RK]1991, p. 68)"; and subsequently "(RK 1991, pp. 70, 72)".
(See Chapter 8 of the Council of Biology Editors style guide at http://www.bedfordstmartins.com/online/cite8.html for additional guidance about the "name-year" citation system and
for guidance about citing Web documents, or consult us for additional guidance.)
List your sources in a section entitled "References" at the end of your paper.
Your prose should be your own except when you quote a source directly, in
which case you of course must cite the source in your narrative or via footnotes.
Extended paraphrasing will not suffice.
The remaining 70% of the value of this assignment will depend on the organization
of your narrative, how well it integrates its sources, and (within the limited
sources you're asked to use) how well the narrative addresses the items listed
If you would like to see samples of past student papers in GEOL/METR/OCN 405
on topics different from the ones listed above, we can provide you with copies.
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