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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Earth Science

Undergraduate Course: Global Environmental Change- Foundations (EASC09056)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 9 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course presents an integrated approach to the processes that have driven environmental changes at various times during the Quaternary period. Discussed are the interactions between the oceans, ice sheets and continents and the way in which climate change drives/affects Earth surface processes. The archives that preserve records of environmental change on Earth on time scales of millions of years to decades are discussed. Causes for environmental change through time are examined in this global context. In this upgraded course there will be more emphasis on Holocene climate change (both, from an ocean and continental point of view), compared to the existing QEC course. In particular, the land components adds a new dimension to the course. Also, there will be a new computer simulation component in the course. Strengthened computer based practical sessions introduce techniques used in retrieving information on, and reconstructing, past environments from environmental archives (e.g. sediments, corals) and comparing data from different settings. As part of the practical sessions, transferable skills will be strengthened/generated. These include advanced graphic techniques, basic Excel/OpenOffice programming, training in text structuring, advanced text formatting techniques. Intense support during the practical classes is part of the course.
Course description Lecture and Practical suite of the course:
Day 1: L1 Introduction to the Quaternary
L2 Long-term climate change: Uniqueness of the Quaternary within the last 60 million years
Day2: L3 Nature of Pleistocene climate cycles1
P1 Interpretation of time-series spectral analysis 1

Day 1: P2 Interpretation of time-series spectral analysis 2
Day 2: L4 Nature of Pleistocene climate cycles 2
L5 What drived glacial-interglacial climate change?

Day 1: P3 Retrieving environmental information from O-isotope curves
Day 2: L6: Sea Level change: Past and Future
P4: Sea level change 1
(in course feedback session)

Day 1: P5 Sea level change 2
L7 rapid Climate Change: The Millennial Scale Record 1
Day 2: L8: Rapid Climate Change: The Millennial Scale Record 2
L9: Variability in Tropical climate: Monsoon, rainfall and gases

Day 1: P6 Climate change and Sapropels
Day 2: L10 Dating records of climate change (1)
L11: Dating records of climate change (2)

Day 1: P7 Synchronizing climate records across the hemispheres
Day 2: P8 Synchronizing climate records across the hemispheres

Day 1: L12 Rapid Climate Change: the Century to Decadal Scale record
L13 Introduction to Article writing
Day 2: P9 Article writing exercise 1

Day 1: L14 Holocene Climate Change 1
L15 Holocene Climate Change 2
Day 2: P10 Article writing exercise 2 (feedback and help)

Day 1: P11 Article writing exercise 3 (feedback and help)
L16: Environmental change over the last 2ka
Day 2: L17 Computer simulations- principles

Day 1: L18 Computer simulations and climate change through time
L19 Computer simulations and climate change- future change
Day 2: L20 Climate and hominid evolution: Droughts and trade winds
Day 1: P11 Article writing
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  25
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 30, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 5, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Revision Session Hours 3, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 136 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework: 50% based on 3 assessed practicals (P1/2: 10%, P6: 15%, and P9-11: 25%)
Exam: 50%
Feedback Feedback will be provided for all course work components as well as during the practicals.

Additional feedback is available on request.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. generate knowledge on types of environmental change on orbital to decadal time scale
  2. evaluate the causes of environmental change through time
  3. assess feedback in the climate system
  4. create awareness of limitations in establishing chronologies for archives of environmental change
  5. strengthen skills in report writing involving critical assessment of data and accounting for uncertainties when drawing conclusions
Reading List
W.F. Ruddiman, 'Earth's Climate: Past and Future'

R.C.L.Wilson, S.A Drury & J.L. Chapman, 'The Great Ice Age: Climate Change and Life', The Open University

R.S. Bradley, 'Quaternary Palaeoclimatology', Unwin

J.J Lowe & M.J.C Walker, 'Reconstructing Quaternary Environments', Longman
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsEnvironmental change,Milankovitch cycles,millennial to decadal sclae climate change,geochemistry
Course organiserDr Simon Jung
Course secretaryMiss Eilein Fraser
Tel: (0131 6)50 5430
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