GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE
Dr Anson Mackay & Dr Vivienne Jones
Unit Value: 0.5 unit
Year 3 Term 1
Brief course description
Many of world’s ecosystems are under intense pressure from climate change and human impact, yet the services that they provide (‘ecosystem services’) are vital for the well-being of our planet. For example ecosystem services provide us with goods (e.g. freshwater, biodiversity), they regulate our climate and they support vital processes such as soil formation. However our knowledge of how ecosystems respond to environmental threats is normally limited to only recent timescales.
The primary aim is to investigate topical environmental themes (important to the well-being of our planet) within the context of a long-term perspective (using palaeoscience approaches). A secondary aim is to encourage students to publicly participate in the themes developed on the course by the creation and maintenance of a weblog (‘blog’) site.
Each lecture will introduce either an ecosystem or environmental problem, followed by an overview of how that ecosystem functions, or how the environmental problem manifests itself. Each lecture will conclude with case studies detailing how a palaeoscience perspective adds to understanding of the ecosystem under threat, or problem identified.
Key topics covered include
• The Anthropocene
• Global biogeochemical cycles
• Polar ecosystems
• Boreal ecosystems and carbon budgets
• Tipping points
• Rapid climate change
Method of delivery
The course is comprised of a series of 2-hour lectures plus one 2-hour computer practical.
There are no prerequisites for this course, although students will be expected to have a background in environmental geography.
• one unseen, two-hour examination, 50%.
• blog, 50%
Relationship to other courses:
• extends and elaborates many of the themes introduced in GEOG1005 Environmental Change
• provides important applications to techniques covered in GEOG2008 Reconstructing Past Environments
Oldfield, F. (2005) Environmental change: key issues and alternative approaches. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 363 pp
Williams, M., Zalasiewicz, J., Haywood, A. & Ellis, M. (2011) The Anthropocene: a new epoch of geological time. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A. 369: 385-1111