Meteo 597C - Spring 2010

The Global Carbon Cycle

Spring Semester 2010

T R  2:30 - 3:45


Instructor: Prof. Ken Davis (


Purpose and Content

Gobal Carbon CycleThis course focuses in one of the most challenging, long-term global environmental issues of our era – the accumulation of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere due to human modification of the global carbon cycle. We will endeavor to understand the factors governing the global carbon cycle – sources and sinks; mechanisms, measurements and models.  Terrestrial, oceanic, atmospheric and anthropogenic processes will be considered.  The focus is on the recent past (industrial era) and near-future (~100 years), when carbon cycle management decisions will play a critical role in climate change, but longer time scales will be discussed more briefly to develop a broader perspective.  More focus is put on the natural system than human processes (i.e. engineering aspects of carbon cycle management are not developed in this course).

The course is appropriate for graduate students or advanced undergraduates with a background in quantitative sciences (physical or biological) or engineering.  The course should be suitable for students from a wide variety of programs across the university.

We will mix the traditional problem-set/exam format (early portion of the course) with study of current literature, hands-on, student-tailored mini research projects using tools (lab, field, data analysis, numerical) found in the current scientific literature, proposal/report writing and collaborative problem solving.  Independent learning and study skills will be necessary.
Dr. Davis’s expertise is in the application of atmospheric measurements to the study of the terrestrial carbon cycle.  He is co-chair of the North American Carbon Program Science Steering Group, and a member of the writing group drafting the next U.S. Carbon Cycle Science Plan.