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GEOL0045 Palaeoclimatology

To provide a thorough understanding of the mechanisms of and responses to palaeoclimate climate change through geological history, with special emphasis on understanding the processes that shaped the surface of the Earth (past and present), which control the environments we are living in and contribute significantly to our understanding of how life evolved.

Coordinator: Prof. Juergen Thurow

Module details
TitlePalaeoclimatology
UG CodeGEOL0045
CoordinatorProf. Juergen Thurow
Other Contributors 
Normal Level 
Term2
Credit15 credits
Written Exam65% (unseen two and a half hour written exam)
Coursework20% (four practical assignments)
Oral Presentation15%
Pre-RequisitesNormally GEOL0006 Surface Processes.
Maths & Stats Content and RequirementNone
Total Number of Hours of Student Work188 hours
Hours of Lectures/Seminars20 hours
Hours of Practicals/Problem Classes20 hours
Hours of TutorialsAs needed
Days of Fieldwork0
OtherStudents give 15 minute oral presentations of their essay topics.
Content

Lectures: Palaeoclimate studies provide direct evidence of how the climate system changes through time, including its responses to unprecedented changes in its control. This course explores the basic climatic responses of Earth’s major systems and subsystems (ice, water, air, vegetation and land), and traces their interactions through time. The range and causes of past natural climatic variability, the past sensitivity of the climate systems to various forcing, variations in climate feedbacks through time, and the responses of ecosystems and human societies to past climate variability will be presented and discussed within major themes, e.g. tectonic-scale change, the sedimentary response, orbital- , deglacial - and millennial-scale changes, historical and future change. 

Practicals: Analysis of the palaeoclimate record from a sedimentary core from Quidenham Mere, Norfolk, through logging of colour, sediment type, fossil content, smear slides, geochemical analyses and physical properties

ASSESSMENT

Coursework: 

Oral presentation: critical examination of a published scientific paper on any topic within Palaeocimatology (examples of papers below - the list will be amended from time to time). 10-15 minutes allowing time for class questions & discussions. You will be asked to assess and rank your classmates' presentations. 

Quidenham Mere Report: 3000 words plus sedimentary log, figures, diagrams and references

AIMS

To provide a thorough understanding of the mechanisms of and responses to Palaeoclimate - climate change through geological history, with special emphasis on understanding the processes which shaped the surface of the Earth (past and present), which control the environments we are living in and which contribute significantly to our understanding of how life evolved.

OUTCOMES

The students should be able to: 

  • recognize and understand palaeoclimate - climate signals in the geological record and in recent climate archives; 
  • know how to critically evaluate and interpret these data; 
  • know how to assess these data for their impact on Earth’s systems, surface processes, environmental change, evolution of life, and modern society.