In this course, we develop the qualitative and quantitative tools for constructing, experimenting with, and interpreting dynamic models of different components of the Earth system. The integrated set of ten modules within this course explores a range of systems that all relate to the dynamics of Earth's climate, including interactions with humans. The course is aimed at an intermediate-level geoscience student with some knowledge of mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology, which form the foundation for building and understanding computer models of these systems.
Strengths of the Course
- By building and working with models of the climate system, population growth, water resources, and the intersections between climate change and economic systems, students will develop the ability to integrate information from a variety of disciplines, including geosciences, biology, physics, chemistry, and economics. Further, students will be asked to apply the results of their models to societal problems.
- Using models in this way explicitly encourages the use of prediction and experimentation as ways of learning. Modeling also fosters quantitative and analytical thinking. Finally, models allow students to simulate processes that occur over geologic time.
- Geoscience data will be used as the initial conditions for some systems models, for example the pre-industrial concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Geoscientific data will also be used as points of comparison for model output in other units, for example, students will compare General Circulation Model outputs to records of surface warming over the past several decades.
- The use of visually-based models helps students to see connections between different parts of dynamic systems. Students will be asked to make predictions about model (system) behavior over time, and analyze results in the context of 1) the specific system being modeled and 2) how and why predictions may have differed from results.
A great fit for courses in:
- Environmental Science
- Environmental Studies
- Earth Modeling
- Geology/Earth Science
- Systems Thinking
Instructor Stories: How this course was adapted
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Table of Contents
- Instructor Materials: Modeling Earth Systems Course
Unit 1Introduction to Modeling Dynamic Systems Unit 2Modeling Population Unit 3Simple Climate Models Unit 4Daisyworld Unit 5Growth and Decay of Ice Sheets Unit 6Hydrologic Balance and Climate Change Unit 7Heat Flow in Permafrost Unit 8Thermohaline Circulation Unit 9Carbon Cycle and Ocean Chemistry Unit 10Coupled Economic and Environmental Models Summative AssessmentCreating a Model
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