Earth System Science (ESS) Course Descriptions

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102 Physical Geology 4 hrs.

Introduction to physical geology. Minerals and rocks, geologic time, seismic waves and investigations of the earth's interior, plate tectonics and continental drift, mountain building, weathering and erosion.

111 Climate and Global Change 4 hrs.

Introduction to earth's atmosphere and climate system. Structure and interaction of the components of this system. Natural and human-induced changes including these topics, the greenhouse effect, global warming, ozone depletion, air pollution and acid rain, effects of volcanoes, urban heat island processes, continental drift effects, glacial melting and sea level changes, atmospheric and ocean circulations and climate, and solar activity variability.

112 Severe and Hazardous Weather 4 hrs.

Weather systems, severe weather, hurricanes, weather forecasting. Interpretation of current conventional surface-based, satellite, and radar weather observations. Prerequisite: ESS 111.

210 Collapse of Civilizations, 3hrs.

This course investigates why some cultures succeed and others fail. Many ancient societies experienced factors which led to their collapse, including environmental damage, climate change, overpopulation, and warfare. However, other societies found solutions to these problems and survived. From the archeological record of past civilizations we will examine the factors that lead to collapse in an attempt to address a question that is relevant to the contemporary world—how can our world best avoid destroying itself?

303 Classification and Physical Causes of Climates 3 hrs.

Basic atmospheric structure and physical processes, surface processes, climate history and climate change, land use and land change, microclimates, topoclimates, ecoclimatology. Prerequisites: ESS 111, MA 120 or 171, and PH 101 or 111.

305 Hydrology 3 hrs.

Introduction to the hydrologic cycle and basic concepts of how water on the Earth moves, distributes, circulates and interacts with the environment. Major topics are water properties, precipitation, infiltration, evapotranspiration (evaporation and transpiration), groundwater, and runoff. Oceanographic concepts are introduced including currents, waves, tides, and coastal sediment processes. The response of water to environmental changes and conservation/management strategies are discussed. Prerequisites: ESS 102 and 111, MA 120 or 171, and PH 101 or 111.

307 Environmental Archeology 3 hrs.

Archeologists today need a wide range of scientific approaches in order to delineate and interpret the ecology of their sites. This approach is revolutionizing archeology and making archeological information relevant to the modern-day world. The analytical techniques that will be investigated in this course include climate modeling, climate reconstruction, geomorphology, sedimentology, soil science, paleobotany, paleoecoloy, remote sensing and GIS.

312 Principles of Ecology 4 hrs.

Ecological principles controlling plant and animal populations. Development of ecosystems, communities and habitats. One 3 hour lab a week. Field trips required. Prerequisite: BYS 120. Strongly Recommend CH 101 or 121.

321 Pollution Problems 3 hrs.

Quantitative descriptions of environmental conditions, regulations, and abatement technologies. Specific pollution problems with air, water, noise, and radiation; assessment of environmental impacts of development or construction projects. Prerequisites: ESS 111, MA 120 or MA 171, CH 101 or 121, PH 101 or 111.

370 Introduction to Remote Sensing 3 hrs.

This course investigates the basic physical principles of remote sensing systems and discusses the processing, interpretation, and applications of airborne and satellite data. No prior training in remote sensing is required. Remote sensing can be used to measure and monitor important biophysical characteristics and human activities on Earth. This information is critical in addressing the global environmental threats of the next few decades. Prerequisites: ESS 111, MA 120 or 171, PH 101 or 111.

401 Survey of Atmospheric Science 3 hrs.

General survey of the field of atmospheric science. Quantitative examination of atmospheric physical properties, including atmospheric composition, structure and dynamics. Detailed inspection of evolving atmospheric structures using real-time data systems. Topics include atmospheric thermodynamics, atmospheric dynamics, cloud physics, atmospheric radiation, and related topics in atmospheric remote sensing. Prerequisites: ESS 111, MA 172, and PH 112, or permission of the instructor.

407 Major Environmental Threats of the 21st Century 3 hrs.

Researchers, policymakers and environmental campaigners have identified 25 potential future threats to the global environment. Some of these threats include climate, energy, water, food, environment, poverty, terrorism, disease, education, democracy, and population. This course examines the nature and consequences of these threats and their potential impacts for the survival of the human race. More importantly, potential solutions to these threats and how public policy and decision making is affected will be discussed.

409 Applications of Computers in Meteorology 3 hrs.

Survey of data types and languages commonly used in the meteorological community along with practical applications to meteorology. Course is designed to prepare students for graduate work and research in atmospheric science. Prerequisite: CS 102, MA 172, PH 112, or consent of instructor.

410 Operational Weather Forecasting 3hrs.

Operational Meteorology covers subjective and objective methods of atmospheric prognosis, including techniques for forecasting operationally-important weather elements. The course explores interpretation, use and systematic errors of computer-generated products, human factors with forecasting, and application of meteorological theory in an operational setting. Course instruction is accomplished through analysis of various weather events from beginning to completion. Prerequisite: ESS 111, 112, 401, MA 120 or 171, PH 101 or 111.

411 Introduction to Geographical Information Systems 3 hrs.

Introduces vector, raster, and tabular concepts, emphasizing the vector approach. Topics include spatial relationships, map features, attributes, relational databases, layers of data, data ingesting, digitizing from maps, projections, output, application and availability of public data sets. Prerequisite: CS 102 or Permission of instructor.

413 Geographical Information Systems and Remote Sensing 3 hrs.

Data processing with focus on ESRA ArcGIS and ENVI software packages. Provides basic concepts central to GIS data management and creation, as well as those needed in the scientific manipulation of satellite imagery. Topics include image interpretation, classification, enhancement, multispectral transformations, raster data, vector data, digitizing, projections, data query, and map creation. Prerequisite: CS 102 and permission of instructor.

414 Cross-Disciplinary Introduction to GIS 3 hrs.

Course builds on basic concepts in GIS and Remote Sensing. Techniques in GIS are approached through real world case studies in applied earth sciences including: geology, ecology, natural disasters, demography, climate, and archaeology among others. Students learn to apply GIS technology to locate and download geospatial data, and address public policy and decision making questions through their production of presentation-quality maps. Software emphasized includes: ESRI's ArcGIS, ENVI, and MS Excel, among others. Prerequisite: ESS 413/513 or consent of instructor.

415 Advanced Topics in GIS 3 hrs.

Advanced continuation of concepts applied in Geospatial Applications. Students will learn through modules of real world scientific research how to use further tools in ArcGIS, including: 3D Analyst, Spatial Analyst, Network Analyst. Topics will also include web data dissemination, spatiotemporal analysis, and some basic spatial statistics measures. Prerequisite: ESS 414/514 or consent of instructor.

420 Introduction to Atmospheric Chemistry and Air Pollution 3 hrs.

This self-contained introductory course in atmospheric chemistry and air pollution is designed to provide students the basics of atmospheric chemistry and air pollution concepts. Topics include air pollutants, air-pollution meteorology, atmospheric gases and aerosols, and atmospheric processes. This course will also develop the necessary fundamentals for those wishing to take the advanced (600-level) courses in atmospheric chemistry and air pollution. Prerequisites: PH 112, CH 121 and ESS 321 or consent of instructor.

441 Atmospheric Thermodynamics and Cloud Physics 3 hrs.

General aspects of thermodynamics and cloud physical processes occurring within the atmosphere; atmospheric statics and stability, saturation point analysis, aerosols, nucleation, and the behavior/growth of cloud particles and hydrometers. Prerequisites: MA 238, PH 112. (Same as ATS 441).

451 Atmospheric Fluid Dynamics I 3 hrs.

Fluid dynamics in the atmosphere. Coriolis accelerations, scale analysis, and appropriate approximations of the complete governing equations. Numerical analysis and interpretation of weather phenomena. Prerequisites: MA 238, PH 112. (Same as ATS 451).

452 Synoptic Meteorology 3 hrs.

Analysis, interpretation, and forecasting synoptic-scale and mesoscale phenomena, including air masses, frontal systems, cyclones, anti-cyclones, tropical cyclones, and associated mesoscale phenomena. Emphasis on the use of remotely sensed data from satellites, radars, and profilers using state-of-the-art workstations. Prerequisites: ATS 441, 451. (Same as ATS 452).

454 Forecasting Mesoscale Processes 3 hrs.

Detection and forecasting of atmospheric mesoscale phenomena including the structure and evolution of clouds, precipitation (including floods), thunderstorms and severe weather. Includes basics on instruments used to detect mesoscale phenomena, most notably satellite and radar. Prerequisite: ATS 451. (Same as ATS 454).

461 Atmospheric Radiation I 3 hrs.

Fundamentals of terrestrial atmospheric radiation. Specific topics include solar radiation at the top of the atmosphere, radiative transfer equation, gaseous absorption, scattering by molecules and particles, band models, transmittance along inhomogeneous path, and microwave radiative transfer. Prerequisites: MA 238, PH 112. (Same as ATS 461).

490 Selected Topics in Environmental Science 1-3 hrs.

Special offerings to students in areas of interest not covered in the present curriculum. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

495 Directed Study 2-4 hrs.

Specialized research for undergraduates often is offered to undergraduates who have senior standing

499 Undergraduate Research Capstone, 3 hrs.

Individual investigations into Earth system science problems under direct supervision of various faculty members.