Winter Quarter Course: OCEAN 450 Climatic Extremes

Winter Quarter, 2012
OCEAN 450: Climatic Extremes (SLN 16808)
4 credits (also Honors 221E: SLN 14355 5 credits)

M, W, Th, F at 11:30 to 12:20
Ocean Teaching Building, Room 205
Web address:
Instructors: Paul Quay (685-8061) Paul Johnson (543-8474)

This course begins with an examination of the earth’s past for evidence of extreme climate conditions in order to put the current and future climate into perspective. We’ll find that the earth’s climate has changed over a large range that includes Hothouse conditions during the Cretaceous (100 My ago) to Icehouse conditions during the Pleistocene (1 My) in comparison to the current Greenhouse conditions. We explore how preserved records of climate ‘proxies’ are used to reconstruct past climate change and examine the key processes and feedback in the earth’s system that controlled past climate changes and will influence our future climate. For example, climate shifts resulting from changes in solar insolation, ocean and atmospheric circulation, concentrations of greenhouse gases, plate tectonics activity, and carbon cycling will be examined. In the final weeks of the course we¢ll examine how human activity has perturbed the earth¢s climate and evaluate predictions of likely future climate change largely based on the recent IPCC report.