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GEOL 1052 Paleoclimatology

Spring Semester 2015


GEOL 1052 (undergraduate credit)

GEOL 2049 (graduate credit)

Instructor:  Dr. Mark Abbott
Office:  315 SRCC
Phone:  412-624-1408

3 credits

The goal of this course is to present an overview of the methods used to reconstruct the earth's climate history and the techniques used to determine the timing of environmental changes.  Paleoclimate data from proxy records, such as ice cores or tree rings, provides a longer perspective on climatic variability than is possible from instrumental or historical records.  The graph above shows the rapid increase in the average Northern Hemisphere temperature during the last century with respect to the last 1000 years, and the dramatic warming in the most recent decades.  Is this change related to natural variability or caused by human activities?  Particular emphasis will be given to the climatic changes during the late Cenozoic the time of the ice ages.  Topics to be discussed will include: paleoclimatic reconstruction, climate and climatic variation, dating methods, ice cores, marine sediments and corals, lake sediments, spelothems, soils, pollen analysis, dendrochronology, documentary data, and paleoclimate models.

Prerequisite: GEOL 0800.  This class is aimed at upper division undergraduates and may be taken by graduate students with permission from the instructor.  Graduate students register as GEOL 2203 Paleoecology. 

How has the distribution of glaciers, deserts, and lakes changed through time and how is this related to climate variation?  How do you determine how precipitation has varied in the past from lake sediments?  These and other questions regarding climate change will be addressed in this class.

Syllabus from spring semester 2012



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