Earth's climate has varied greatly over geological time but always remained within boundaries that allowed life to exist. Past climate can be reconstructed from physical and chemical proxies preserved in geological materials: sediment, rocks and fossils. We will examine common climate proxies and the paleoclimate records that can be derived from them. In this course, we will explore the causal factors of climate evolution including plate tectonics, solar radiation, planetary orbital movements, atmospheric chemistry and physics, ocean dynamics and biological productivity. We will focus our study on the last 200 million years, starting at the time when all landmasses formed the supercontinent Pangaea. Paleoclimatology: (1) offers a critical evaluation of the fidelity of geochemical proxies and climate archives; (2) examines mechanisms internal and external to the climate system that drive climate variability on time scales from decades to millions of years; (3) provides the climate context for biological evolution, including that of humans and human civilization, and finally; (4) uses past climate change to investigate present and future climate change. Three hours of class and three hours of lab each week.
Requisite: GEOL 121 or CHEM 151 or PHYS 116 or permission of the instructor. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Kanamaru.