GEO 4403 -- New Course

Mon Apr 20 12:34:51 2009

Approvals Received:
on 04-15-09
by Kathy Ohler
Approvals Pending: College/Dean  > Catalog
Effective Status: Active
Effective Term: 1113 - Spring 2011
Course: GEO 4403
Institution: UMNTC - Twin Cities
Career: UGRD
College: TIOT - Institute of Technology
Department: 11130 - Geology & Geophysics
Course Title Short: Atmosphere, Oceans, & Climate
Course Title Long: Atmosphere, Oceans, and the Climate System
Max-Min Credits
for Course:
3.0 to 3.0 credit(s)
Dynamics and biogeochemistry of the atmosphere, oceans, and the climate system. Emphasizes modern processes that determine the transport of water, energy, and trace materials within and between the atmosphere and oceans. Examines climate models and their sensitivity to natural and anthropogenic forcings.
Print in Catalog?: Yes
CCE Catalog
<no text provided>
Grading Basis: Stdnt Opt
Topics Course: No
Honors Course: No
Delivery Mode(s): Classroom
Contact Hours:
3.0 hours per week
Years most
frequently offered:
Every academic year
Term(s) most
frequently offered:
Component 1: LEC (with final exam)
Progress Units:
Not allowed to bypass limits.
3.0 credit(s)
Financial Aid
Progress Units:
Not allowed to bypass limits.
3.0 credit(s)
Repetition of
Repetition not allowed.
for Catalog:
Math 1371, 1372; Chem 1021, 1022; Physics 1301, 1302
No course equivalencies
No required consent
(course-based or
No prerequisites
Editor Comments: Course will be cross listed when ESPM course is approved
Proposal Changes: <no text provided>
History Information: <no text provided>
Sponsor Name:
Katsumi Matsumoto
Sponsor E-mail Address:
Student Learning Outcomes
Student Learning Outcomes: * Student in the course:

- Can identify, define, and solve problems

Please explain briefly how this outcome will be addressed in the course. Give brief examples of class work related to the outcome.

Homework questions and in-class discussions will facilitate the identification and definition of gaps in knowledge. Problem solving will be addressed by homework questions as well as midterm and final exams. Problem solving will also be addressed through the use of EdGCM, a user-friendly global climate model that can be easily installed on personal computers.

How will you assess the students' learning related to this outcome? Give brief examples of how class work related to the outcome will be evaluated.

Evaluation of homework and reports using EdCGM.

- Have mastered a body of knowledge and a mode of inquiry

Please explain briefly how this outcome will be addressed in the course. Give brief examples of class work related to the outcome.

Lectures are the primary means to deliver an organized body of knowledge. Mathematical derivations of dynamical features of the atmosphere and oceans will facilitate a quantitative mode of inquiry.

How will you assess the students' learning related to this outcome? Give brief examples of how class work related to the outcome will be evaluated.

Assessment will be made primarily in homework and midterm and final examinations

- Have acquired skills for effective citizenship and life-long learning

Please explain briefly how this outcome will be addressed in the course. Give brief examples of class work related to the outcome.

We fill have a focus on the positive learning experience, so that students will appreciate science and be more receptive to life-long learning of science and science literacy in general.

How will you assess the students' learning related to this outcome? Give brief examples of how class work related to the outcome will be evaluated.

We will conduct critical incident questionnaire on a regular basis throughout the semester to gauge the effectiveness of our teaching methods and the learning experience of the students. Student feedbacks will help adjust our teaching and delivery methods.

Liberal Education
this course fulfills:
Other requirement
this course fulfills:
Criteria for
Core Courses:
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Criteria for
Theme Courses:
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Writing Intensive
Propose this course
as Writing Intensive
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Course Syllabus
Course Syllabus: Atmosphere, Oceans, and the Climate System
Spring 2011 ESPM 4403/GEO4403

This course provides an introduction to atmospheric science, oceanography, and climatology at the upper undergraduate level.  Emphasis will be on understanding the mechanisms and processes that determine the cycles of water, energy, and materials within and between the atmosphere and oceans.  The course begins with a simple energy balance of the Earth that will give a very basic understanding of the planet’s surface temperature.  The inadequacy of that understanding will be the motivation to study the dynamics of the climate system.  Students will learn the basic equations of motion and state and how they are applied to the atmosphere and oceans in understanding the large scale dynamics.  The course will describe how physical processes largely constrain and drive biogeochemical processes in the atmosphere and oceans but also show that biogeochemical processes can in turn have a feedback on the physical processes.  The course will examine the interaction and coupling between the atmosphere and oceans and between the atmosphere and land.  Students will study the basics of climate dynamics and interannual and interdecadal variability of climate.  Climate variability and change will be put in perspective by examining past climates and the impacts of anthropogenic climate forcings.

Prerequisites: One year each of college level physics, chemistry, and calculus.

Lecturers (alphabetical):
Katsumi Matsumoto (; 212 Pillsbury Hall) is a professor and oceanographer in the Department of Geology and Geophysics.  His research focuses on the behavior of carbon in the global ocean and at the atmosphere-ocean interface and ocean-sediment interface.

Peter Snyder (; 439 Borlaug Hall) is a professor and atmospheric scientist in the Department of Soil, Water, and Climate.  His research focuses on the interactions between the atmosphere and the terrestrial biosphere using models, observations, and data analysis.

Homework: Homework will be assigned on a weekly to biweekly basis and due one week later in class.  You may collaborate with your classmates to solve the problems, but each student will have to turn in a completed homework him/herself.  Each day that you are late in handing in the homework, there will be a 10% penalty.

Some homework will involve the use of Matlab scripts and EdGCM on a computer.  These are user-friendly tools that can be installed on a personal computer and will facilitate the understanding of key concepts in geophysical fluid dynamics and climate dynamics.

Midterm and Final Exam: A makeup exam will be given without penalty, if you missed the final because of sickness, emergency in the family, or conflict with another university activity.  Otherwise, there will be a 25% penalty.

Course Objectives: This course provides a rigorous introduction to the atmospheric sciences

Grades: Homework 75%, Final Exam 25%.  Depending on the class size and as a rough guide, the top third of the class will get A’s, the next third B’s, and the last third C’s.  Grades will be posted on WebVista.

Class notes: Class instruction combines the use of PowerPoint presentation and development of equations on the black board.  It will be important for you to take notes in class, although most materials will come from the text.  Some class notes may be posted on WebVista.

Lecture Schedule

        Date        Topics        Homework        Text chapter
1                Course overview and logistics (KM, PS)               
2                Blackbody radiation and the mean temperature of 1D planet (KM)               
3                Greenhouse gases and selective radiation absorption and emission (PS)               
4                Atmospheric temperature profile (PS)               
5                Evapotranspiration and precipitation (PS)        1       
6                Oceanic temperature and salinity (KM)               
7                Oceanic density and water masses (KM)        2       
8                GFD-I: Equation of motion, real and apparent forces (PS)               
9                GFD-II: Equation of state, conservation of mass and energy (PS)               
10                GFD-III: Geostrophy and various balance of forces (PS)               
11                GFD-IV: Waves: gravity, Rossby, Kelvin (PS)        3       
12                Ekman transport and wind-driven ocean circulation (KM)               
13                Upwelling and western boundary currents (KM)               
14                Deep ocean circulation and geochemical tracers (KM)               
15                Marginal seas and interior water mass formation (KM)        4       
16                Convective adjustment and the lapse rate (PS)               
17                Atmospheric general circulation (PS)               
18                Baroclinic instabilities and eddies (PS)        5       
19                Biological production and remineralization in the ocean (KM)               
20                CO2 chemistry and air-sea gas exchange (KM)               
21                Physical and biological controls on surface ocean pCO2 (KM)               
22                Anthropogenic carbon in the ocean (KM)        6       
23                Biological production on land (PS)               
24                Atmosphere-land interaction (PS)               
25                Global climate models (PS)        7       
26                Climate feedbacks I: Clouds, albedo, aerosols, GHG (KM)               
27                Climate feedbacks II: Ocean circulation, continental weathering (KM)        8       
28                Interannual and interdecadal climate variability (PS)               
29                History and evolution of the climate system (KM)               
30                Detection and attribution of climate change (KM, PS)               
PS= 14