The Earth Sciences is one of the most exciting and diverse disciplines in the field of science, and given future climate projections and energy needs, the demand for well educated Earth Scientists is ever growing. This is fantastic news for future scientists, particularly those who enjoy the outdoors and want to pursue a degree that combines both learning and play. The Earth Sciences is also unique in that no other field in science integrates more subjects, and because of this there is plenty of room for budding young physicists, chemists, mathematicians, engineers, biologists, geologists, oceanographers, and geographers to make their own mark in the field. Below is a listing of courses that are taught within the Paleoclimate and Geochronology Lab.
Geosc/AOS 140: Natural Hazards and Disasters
Natural hazards abound on the planet. From enormously tragic disasters such as the 2010 Haiti earthquake or the 2011 tsunami in Japan, to storms and flooding like Hurricane Harvey, to local calamities such as landslides and sinkholes, there are a lot of ways that the earth is trying to do us in. This course will examine a range of hazards, including earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornados, volcanic eruptions, landslides, floods, and even asteroid impacts. We will explore what actually happens in each of these types of events – the real story of the physical causes, not the Hollywood version. We will answer questions like “Why is it that scientists can predict the path and strength of a hurricane in detail, but can’t seem to predict earthquakes at all?” The cost in life and property of the resulting disasters is growing as human population and the complexity of the built environment both increase. The course will address the ways in which uncertainty is addressed and quantified through probabilistic hazard analysis, forecasting, and mitigation strategies. We will study how governments, insurance companies, and even individuals can evaluate the risk to life and property and plan rational, science-based response. By the end of the course, students will understand the underlying processes causing natural disasters and how to use methods and tools to forecast their likelihood and their damaging effects. Co-taught with Bradley Singer.
Geosc/Geog/EnvSci 335: Climatic Environments of the Past
This course covers a number of aspects related to both modern and “paleo” climate of the past 2 Million years, and delves into how the changing climate has effected a number of different Earth spheres (e.g. Ice, Ocean, Climate, Biology). By the end of the course students will be able to explain the major climatic events and trends during the Quaternary, spanning timescales from the last 2,000,000 years to the last 1,000 years, and be able to explain the physical processes controlling the behavior of the earth system and its related components (atmosphere, oceans, cryosphere, biosphere, etc.) and articulate how climatic variability results from a combination of external forcings and internal dynamics within the earth system.
Geosc 420: Glacial and Pleistocene Geology
This course has three parts. The first segment will focus on glaciology, the study of the physical principles underlying the behavior of glaciers and ice sheets. The second part will focus on glacial geomorphology and the different types of landforms left behind through glacial processes. The third part will focus on Pleistocene geology and glaciers’ interactions with climate. This class should allow you to explain many of the features you see at the surface of Wisconsin. Both how the feature was formed and what that feature can tell us about the glacier that shaped the region. Co-taught with Lucas Zoet.
Geosc 875: Advanced Paleoclimatology
This advanced seminar course will cover a number of aspects related to climate change over the past 250,000 years, and explore some of the classic papers that established our initial understanding of climate change over this period. In addition, we will also explore new, and sometimes unpublished literature that may require a reevaluation of the current paradigm; this may both complicate and shed new light on our understanding of how the climate-ocean-ice system operates and the processes that define the natural world we inhabit. We will dissect a broad range of literature on this topic, considering data and models. The course will meet once per week for ~150 minutes, which works best for facilitating wide-ranging discussion on the topics covered in the course. The reading load will be heavy and students will guide the discussions and are expected to be prepared and well versed in the subject matter prior to arriving in class. As part of this course, the student and professor will write a group term paper on some aspect of climate change during the last 250,000 years in the context of paleoceanography, paleoclimatology, or earth- system history. The expectation is that the term paper will become a potential manuscript that all students and those attending the course can contribute and be made co-authors.
Geosc 920: Glacial and Pleistocene Geology Seminar
An exploration of modern glacial geology, glaciology, and Quaternary geology literature. Course includes a single weekend field trip to explore the local glacial geology in Wisconsin. Co-taught with Lucas Zoet.