ENV 594a () / 2021-2022

Global Carbon Cycle

Note: this course information is for the 2021-2022 academic year, not the current academic year (2020-2021).
Credits: 2
Fall 2021: Time and location TBA

People are currently mining millions of years’ worth of stored photosynthetic carbon from the solid Earth and transferring it to the atmosphere where it is profoundly changing the chemistry, physics, and biology of the atmosphere, land, and oceans. Exchanges with the oceans and land surface have been modified substantially, so that currently only about half of anthropogenic emissions remain in the atmosphere. These “carbon sinks” are poorly understood, contributing a great deal of uncertainty to future climate. We consider biogeochemical and transport processes in land ecosystems, the oceans, and atmosphere as well as anthropogenic emissions. We will conclude with a study of changes in carbon cycling in the past and future, including predictions by coupled Earth System Models.
The class format consists of two formal lectures per week. Notes will be downloadable in advance from the website. Readings will be assigned each week from textbooks and the current scientific literature. A series of computational exercises will be assigned to develop understanding of the material.