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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Postgraduate Courses (School of GeoSciences)

Postgraduate Course: Atmospheric Quality and Global Change (PGGE11007)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course aims to introduce and explain the current knowledge of and concerns regarding atmospheric quality and global climate change. Anthropogenic and natural sources of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) and potentially harmful pollutants (e.g. sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, heavy metals), their effects on the environment, current monitoring methods and options for mitigation are explored. The effects of human activities on different ecosystems are explored through specific examples and case studies. Mitigation options for reducing emissions by changing land use, transport and urban infrastructure and by using renewable energy are considered. Topics ranging from land-atmosphere interactions and the global carbon cycle to renewable energy and the Kyoto procotol will be covered.
Course description Week Date Content
1 24 Sept Introduction. Land Atmosphere interactions, the greenhouse effect, impacts of climate change; sources and sinks of greenhouse gases (B Rees and J Cloy)
[Potential essay topics provided and discussed afterwards (J Cloy)]

2 1 Oct Observed climate change, the greenhouse effect and human influence on climate, natural climate variability, modelling the climate system, predicting future climate (D Stevenson)

3 8 Oct The use of different modelling approaches at different scales. Land-use and climate change. Modelling GHG emissions. Parameterisation and validation. The challenge of upscaling (B Rees)

4 15 Oct Trace gas emissions. Emission sources and inventories. Acidifying and eutrophying substances. Photochemical pollutants (S Reis).
[Essay assistance session afterwards (J Cloy)]

5 22 Oct Urban air quality and health (S Reis). Acidification and eutrophication effects (B Bealey)
Afternoon field excursion to look at CEH research at the Bush estate and the Red Moss of Balerno ombrotrophic peat bog (J Cloy and M Bell)

6 29 Oct The global carbon cycle ┐ concepts and managing the terrestrial cycle, land atmosphere exchange, ecosystem carbon cycling/GHG budgets, climate change, land use and management impacts (J Cloy and M Bell)

7 5 Nov Renewable energy. Biomass and hydro power, solar and wind power (J Campbell).
Afternoon field excursion to Blacklaw wind farm (J Cloy)

8 12 Nov Environmental (ice, peat, moss) archives of global change. Reconstruction of past climates/air quality. Human-environment interactions: learning from the past (J Cloy)
Essay submission deadline 5 pm

9 19 Nov Mitigation of GHG emissions. Technical end economic feasibility. International agreements on air pollution; Kyoto and beyond (M Bell)
[Presentation assistance session afterwards (J Cloy)]

10 26 Nov Student Presentations (B Rees, D Stevenson, M Bell, J Cloy) (9.00 am ┐ 1 pm) Class split into 2 groups - lecture theatres D and F.

11 3 Dec Revision session and quiz (J Cloy)

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:  60
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 44, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 152 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Course Assessment

Half of the module mark is provided by the final exam, the other half comes from an essay and short presentation.

The Atmospheric Quality and Global Change essay (~3000 words) needs to be submitted on Thursday 12th November (week 8) (37.5% of the total module mark). Further information about the essay assignment and a range of potential topics will be provided in week 1 (24th Sept).

Essay topic approval
Your proposed essay topic and/or provisional title must be emailed by 5 pm on Thursday 5th November (week 7) to the course organiser Joanna Cloy ( for approval.

Short oral presentations based on selected essay topics are given on Thursday 26th November (week 10). Presentations are strictly 8 minutes each. If students go under this time they will get questions. The presentations are worth 12.5% of the module mark and the presentation is marked as follows by two independent markers: Technical content (50% of mark), oral (25% of mark) and visual (25% of mark).

The Atmospheric Quality and Global Change class is split into groups of up to 10 students. Students must bring slides on a data stick and it is essential that they turn up early to prevent delays. Students should attend all the presentations in their assigned group. Students will be penalised for turning up late. Students don't need to formerly submit presentation slides but they can be emailed to the course organiser ( beforehand.

Assignment Submission
The Essay assignment must be submitted via Learn AND as a hard copy through the SRUC postgraduate secretary Elspeth Martin (email: If required, Elspeth can provide guidance on uploading submissions. Presentation slides will not be submitted via Learn but copies of students┐ presentation slides will be kept by the course organiser.

Assignment Guidance
A short informal lecture offering essay guidance will be provided following week 4┐s lecture on 15th October. Similarly, oral presentation tips and guidance will be provided following week 9┐s lecture on 19th November. Guidance lectures are not compulsory and all materials will be uploaded on Learn.

Feedback Opportunities for feedback
Students can discuss their essay topics and structure with the course organiser and/or teaching staff but feedback on written drafts of students┐ essays cannot be provided. Electronic assignment feedback forms will be completed by markers for each essay. More specific written feedback may also be provided on annotated printed hard copies of the essays which were submitted.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)Theory exam2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. have Increased understanding of current concerns regarding atmospheric quality and global change.
  2. have an understanding of sources and sinks of greenhouse gases, the global carbon cycle, renewable energy, biological responses to global change, acid rain and urban transport and air pollution.
  3. have an appreciation of renewable energy and mitigation options for reducing impacts of anthropogenic release of pollutants into the atmosphere.
  4. have a knowledge of past and present climate change and atmospheric quality in order to fully understand the impacts of human activities.
  5. develop an understanding of and skills in relevant measurement, monitoring and modelling techniques for atmospheric quality.
Reading List
Suggested Reading:
Most additional and background reading (particularly journal papers) will be provided during and following individual lecture sessions and some lecturers will upload additional reading on Learn.

The following suggested reading material/important websites should provide useful reference points:

┐ The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth assessment report.
┐ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
┐ Greenhouse gases online. News on research on GHGs (hosted by Edinburgh University).
┐ The Kyoto protocol.
┐ Information on EU policy and approaches to the environment
┐ Information on climate change from the authoritative science journal Nature.
┐ United Nations Climate change reports
┐ UK government publications on climate change
┐ The University of East Anglia, Climate Change Research Unit reports
┐ Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (AGAGE)
┐ UK Government renewable energy information.
┐ UK government air pollution monitoring information.
┐ Reay D. 2010. Methane and climate change. Earthscan, London, UK.
┐ Smith K.A. 2010. Nitrous oxide and climate change. Earthscan, London, UK.
┐ Smith J. and Smith P. 2007. Environmental modelling. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.
┐ Seinfeld J.H. and S.N. Pandis. 2012. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics: From Air Pollution to Climate Change, 2nd Edition. John Wiley & Sons, Chicago. USA.
┐ Cotrufo M.F. 2014. Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems. In: Freedman B. (Ed). Global Environmental Change. Springer Science + Business Media, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.
┐ Reay D. 2015. Nitrogen and Climate Change: An Explosive Story. Palgrave Macmillan, London, UK.
┐ Godfray B. 2014. Renewable Energy: Power for a Sustainable Future, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsAtmospheric Quality and Global Change - Atmospheric quality,global change,greenhouse gases,atmosp
Course organiserDr Joanna Cloy
Tel: 0131 535 4213
Course secretaryMrs Elspeth Martin
Tel: 0131 535 4198
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