• Societally engaged climate projects (CLIMATE 530)
  • Advanced Fluid Mechanics (CLIMATE/SPACE 551)
  • Earth System Modeling (CLIMATE/SPACE 410)
  • Climate and the Media (CLIMATE/EARTH 140)
  • Ice sheets, Glaciers, and Climate (CLIMATE/SPACE 474)
  • Mathematical Methods in Geoscience (CLIMATE/SPACE 605, last offered Fall 2012)
  • Special topics in Cryosphere Science (CLIMATE/SPACE 605, last offered Fall 2011)

Societally engaged climate projects

Climate change is profoundly altering our planet. However, information about climate change is often unavailable or unusable by local communities. This is especially true of many vulnerable communities. In this course, we seek to bridge the gap between physical science research, which seeks to discover new knowledge about the climate system, and climate information that is useable by local communities. As part of this class, students get real-world experience, partnering with a community to apply climate projections to assist in planning and mitigation. As part of this process, students need to understand community needs and work with partners to determine what information is useful for their needs. Our inaugural project partnered with the Washtenaw County Water Resouces to aid in planning the location of green infrastructure.

Advanced Fluid Mechanics

Fluid dynamics is a branch of engineering, mathematics, and physics that allows us to predict how fluids move. As we shall see, the equations that describe how fluids move are surprisingly general and—this is remarkable—describe how liquids, gases, and even some solids deform. In fact, the equations we derive and study in this course apply to an extraordinary number of situations, including the flow of air and water (atmosphere and ocean), oil, tar, blood, ice, and plasmas. This is a core graduate course that, despite its name, introduces students to fluid mechanics. In this course, we take a physics-oriented approach and develop the subject of fluid mechanics with the goal of understanding geophysically relevant flows. This will include geophysical fluid dynamics, but we will try to develop intuition and understanding of the character of flow with and without rotation using Earth, planetary and astrophysical examples. Our approach is somewhat eccentric as we will introduce fluid mechanics as an extension of classical mechanics and derive the equations of fluid mechanics using Hamilton’s principle.

Earth System Modeling

In days past scientists and engineers were forced to learn about obscure special functions and opaque tricks to solve special classes of problems. Such practices seem quaint and classical with the rise of desktop computers and easily implemented scripting languages like MATLAB. These days, desktop computers provide one of the most powerful tools available to budding Earth Scientists to help decipher the rules of Nature. Because of this, some familiarity with computing is essential for all science and engineering grads. It is the purpose of this class to provide these skills. Earth System Modeling is taught as a hands-on class in which students learn how to program and build models of different components of the Earth System from scratch using MATLAB, Python, or a language of their choice. The topics vary from year to year, but the emphasis is on developing and debugging models that are interesting, yet simple enough that they can be solved in a few dozen lines of code. In the past, we have explored deterministic Chaos by solving the Lorenz equations, looked at predator-prey relationships, and considered how invasive species (like Asian Carp) would affect the Great Lakes’ ecology. We have examined the origin of ice sheets and ‘snowball’ Earth climates using energy balance models. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the course content.

Ice sheets, Glaciers, and Climate

This class is geared toward advanced undergraduate and graduate-level students with an interest in understanding how ice sheets and glaciers deform and respond to climate change. Ice sheets and glaciers form an active component of the climate system that not only responds to climate but also helps shape the Earth’s climate system. In this class, students will be introduced to techniques used to observe and understand the dynamics and mass balance of ice sheets and glaciers. Course content includes an introduction to continuum mechanics, the equations of glacier and ice sheet deformation, boundary conditions, ice sheet and glacier mass, and energy balance (both theory and observations). In addition, we shall discuss both current topics of interest to the glaciological community and how these topics are relevant to efforts to better predict future sea level rise. At least this is what most classes on ice sheets promise. The reality is that we cannot promise this anymore since observations over the past decade have substantially upended previous views of how ice sheets and glaciers work. A significant portion of this class will be developed towards discussing the implications of observations of the cryosphere and how these observations have upended many of the accepted “truths” of glaciology.

Mathematical Methods in Geoscience

This class teaches advanced undergraduate students and early graduate students the mathematical tools that students need to excel in AOSS core graduate classes and in research. The emphasis of this class is on connecting mathematics (i.e., proofs) with concrete applications. Topics vary, but we typically cover Linear Algebra, Vector Calculus, Tensors, Ordinary Differential Equations, Fourier and Laplace Transforms, Ordinary Differential Equations, Partial Differential Equations, and Perturbation Theory.