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GEO 100 - Global Environmental Change

Course URL:

Course Type:

Earth Systems Science

Course Size:


The objectives of this course are to gain a basic understanding of the interrelationships among the earth's major physical and biological systems and to gain an appreciation of past and potential future global environmental changes. The role of humans in propagating and mitigating global change is also examined. Changes in the atmosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere and biosphere, and the impacts of human actions are discussed. Aspects of the forecasted global warming as well as other important issues will be discussed in detail.

Course Context:

This introductory course has no prerequisites. I was last offered in Spring Term of 2004 at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The class includes 3 lecture sessions per week.

Course Content:

This course covers the following general topics:

  • Review of the global energy balance and the general circulation of the atmosphere
  • Global climatic changes in recent earth history
  • Ozone depletion in the stratosphere
  • Radiatively active gases in the atmosphere and the "greenhouse effect"
  • Role of the ocean in global changes
  • Deforestation and the role of terrestrial biomass with respect to atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane concentrations
  • Effects of aerosols in the atmosphere
  • Public policy and global environmental issues

Teaching Materials:

The text for this class is:

  • The Earth System, 2nd Edition, by Kump, Kasting, and Crane, 2004
In addition, lecture outlines for the class are made available on the web a few days before the lecture.


Exams (5) - 500 points (total)
In-Class Written Assignments (24) - 120 points (total)

References and Notes: