This course considers the science needed to understand human-induced threats to the atmospheric environment, with special emphasis on the global changes that are taking place, or are anticipated. We will discuss the greenhouse effect (and its impact on climate), ozone depletion, the polar ozone holes, and urban air pollution. Some basic meteorology will be presented, including how climate changes might affect the frequency and severity of hurricanes and tornadoes. Students will have access to real-time weather information via computer. This lecture course is intended for non-science concentrators, and there are no prerequisites. Grades will be based on three one-hour exams (no final exam) and homework.
Credit Exclusions: Credit is granted for a combined total of 12 credits elected in introductory biology.
Every day, millions of human and natural activities are altering the planet on which we live. Over the past century, through our ever-increasing population and mastery of technology, we have been changing the global environment at a pace unknown to natural history.
The University of Michigan Global Change Program offers an interdisciplinary, introductory course sequence which investigates the causes and potential impacts of these changes using a combination of traditional lecture-based and modern web-based teaching methodologies. The Fall Academic Term course deals with issues relating to the physical, chemical, and biological cycles contributing to Global Change. Students apply learned knowledge by using spreadsheet and systems modeling software to investigate the dynamics of natural systems.
The Web-based course curriculum provides unparalleled opportunities to conduct on-line Internet research. In fact, you will create your own web-based poster on a topic of your choosing. The interactive laboratory exercises provide you the opportunity to use computers to examine how natural systems function as well as develop projections of the future consequences of changes in the environment. And, perhaps most important of all, you will have ample time for discussion of the critical issues in human development and how they relate to the international business community, global economics, society as a whole and the individual. All topics are developed in a manner that students will find both accessible and enjoyable. The course grade is based on two midterm exams, a final exam, completion of laboratory modules, and a course project based on some aspect of global change. There are no prerequisites for the course and no science background is assumed. The course is appropriate for all undergraduate students, irrespective of intended concentration, and is the first of a series of courses that can be taken as part of the Global Change Minor.
You will discuss...
- Current and Projected Global Change
- The Role of the Individual as a Citizen of the Planet
- Case Studies of Regional and Global Change Issues
You will create...
- Models of Interacting Systems that Give Insight into the Collision Between Natural and Societal Processes
- A Web-based Poster on a Related Topic of Your Choice
Topics that are covered ......
- Big Bang Theory
- Birth and Death of Stars
- Radiation Laws
- Origin of the Elements
- Planetary Energy Budget
- The Age of the Earth
- Primitive Atmospheres
- Natural Hazards
- Plate Tectonics
- Chemical & Biological Evolution
- The Building Blocks for Life
Earth's Atmospheric & Oceanic Evolution:
- Life Processes and Earth Systems
- The Great Ice Ages
- Atmospheric Circulation and Weather
- Climate and Paleoclimate
- Greenhouse Gases and Global Warming
- Sea Level Change
- El Niño
The Tree of Life:
- Emergence of Complex Life
- Extinction and Radiation
- The Five Kingdoms
- Natural Selection
- Respiration and Photosynthesis
Projected Ecological Consequences:
- Elevated Carbon Dioxide Levels
- Environmental Pollutants
- Ozone Depletion
- Likelihood of Global Climatic Change