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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. Greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, CFCs) and potentially harmful atmospheric pollutants (e.g. ammonia, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, tropospheric ozone) are studied. Anthropogenic impacts on earth system processes and ecosystems, current monitoring and modelling methods and options for mitigation are explored. The effects of anthropogenic emissions on terrestrial and marine ecosystems, human health, biodiversity and biogeochemical cycles are outlined through specific examples or 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 international agreements (Kyoto/Paris Agreement) will be covered.
Course description Note that during 2020-2021, a hybrid model of teaching will be used in response to the impact and constraints of the Covid-19 pandemic. This model enables students to transition easily between online and on campus education as required.
Where possible, on campus teaching will be in the form of lectures and tutorials between 9.30 am and 1.00 pm (Semester 1) on Thursdays in Lecture Theatre E in the SRUC (Peter Wilson) building at KB. Any timing and location changes will be announced. Note that occasionally teaching finishing times will be earlier depending on the amount of lecture material being covered, provision of guidance sessions afterwards and other teaching commitments. Alternative pre-recorded micro-lectures followed by online question and answer sessions (in allocated teaching slot) will be used where necessary. Online tutorials (e.g. based on compulsory reading) and quizzes will also be designed where appropriate.

Week Date Content
1 24 Sept Introduction. Land Atmosphere interactions, the greenhouse effect, impacts of climate change; sources and sinks of greenhouse gases (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 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)
Global methane emissions; measurement and mitigation (J Drewer)
4 15 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. Inventory reporting (B Rees)
5 22 Oct Trace gas emissions. Emission sources and inventories. Acidifying and eutrophying substances. Photochemical pollutants (B Bealey tbc).
6 29 Oct Acidification and eutrophication effects (B Bealey tbc)
Urban air quality and health (M Heal)
7 5 Nov Mitigation of GHG emissions. Technical end economic feasibility. International agreements on air pollution; Kyoto/Paris Agreement (B Rees)
8 12 Nov Renewable energy. Biomass and hydro power, solar and wind power (I Boyd).
Potential afternoon field excursion to biomass plant (J Cloy)
9 19 Nov Potential field excursion to CEH monitoring station (Bush estate) (J Cloy, U Skiba)
10 26 Nov Student Presentations (Assessors: J Cloy, B Rees, D Stevenson, S Buckingham, U Skiba, S Jones tbc) (9.00 am ¿ 1 pm) Class split into groups - lecture theatres E and F and other if necessary.
11 3 Dec Revision session (J Cloy) (9.00 am ¿ 11 am)

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 2021/22, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  40
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 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 20% for oral presentation
40% for essay
40% for 48 hour deadline advisors report
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.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand current concerns regarding atmospheric quality and global change (drawing on recent IPCC Assessment Reports in particular).
  2. Understand key anthropogenic and natural processes that have an impact on atmospheric quality e.g. sources and sinks of greenhouse gases, the global carbon cycle, nitrogen cascade, biological responses to global change, acid deposition, urban transport and air pollution.
  3. Through lectures and field visit (where possible) appreciate current emissions reduction targets and use of renewable energy and other technologies as mitigation options for reducing the impacts of anthropogenic release of pollutants into the atmosphere.
  4. Build awareness of monitoring and modelling approaches used by scientists to understand current and future climate change/air quality and the use of past records of global change for unravelling the true impacts of human activities on the environment.
  5. Understand the effects of air pollution on terrestrial and marine ecosystems and the effects of poor air quality on human health.
Reading List
Please see current reading list for the course at:

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

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (links to 5th and new 6th (where available) assessment and special reports).
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Greenhouse gases online. News on research on GHGs (hosted by Edinburgh University).
The Kyoto protocol.
The Paris Agreement
Information on EU policy and approaches to the environment
Information on climate change from the authoritative science journal Nature.
United Nations Climate change reports
Committee on Climate Change. UK Government. Low carbon economy, emissions targets.
The University of East Anglia, Climate Change Research Unit reports
DUKES (digest of UK energy statistics)
Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (AGAGE)
UK Government renewable energy information.
UK government air pollution monitoring information.
Lovejoy T. E. & Hannah L. 2019. Biodiversity and climate change. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
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.
Bonan G. 2019. Climate Change and Terrestrial Ecosystem Modeling, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 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.
Peake S. 2017. Renewable Energy: Power for a Sustainable Future, 4th Edition. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.
Trivedy R.K. and Goael P.K. 2016. An Introduction to Air Pollution, 2016. 2nd Edition. ABD Publishers, Jaipur, India.

Additional suggested background reading (particularly journal papers) may be provided during and following individual teaching sessions and some lecturers will upload additional reading on Learn.
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills This course is only available to students on Taught MSc programmes within the School of Geosciences. Students may be permitted to audit this course.
KeywordsAtmospheric Quality and Global Change - Atmospheric quality,global change,greenhouse gases,atmosp
Course organiserDr Joanna Cloy
Tel: 0131 535 4213
Course secretaryMs Jennifer Gumbrell
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