NATS101 Introduction to Global Change
 Section 16

Last updated Dec. 6, 2007

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Course notes


Anyone following current events on the web, tv, radio or in the newspapers cannot help but be aware of the growing number of reports about changes taking place on our Earth, for example related to atmospheric temperatures, forest decline, hurricanes, wildfires, glaciers and ice sheets, resources, etc. Some of these media reports may be downright frightening with respect to their predictions for our near and more distant future, but sometimes seemingly contradictory reports and viewpoints are expressed, thereby leading to confusion about the meaning of it all. The course will examine the science of global environmental change, using “An Inconvenient Truth” by Al Gore as a springboard for investigating in greater detail the underpinnings of such processes as the greenhouse effect, global warming, the ozone hole, sea-level rise, and deforestation. This course will build your foundation of basic understanding relevant to global change science, as well as identify the “truths” in our understanding, ranging from those that we know with great certainty to those about which we are much less certain.

The course will be primarily lecture, activities and discussion within the confines of the two meeting periods each week.  In addition to readings, there will be quizzes, homeworks, a midterm and final exam, in-class activities, and a short term paper.




Prof. Steve Leavitt
Address: Lab. of Tree-Ring Research, Room 218, W. Stadium (west side of Football stadium- up stairs to second level at Gate 15)
Phone:  621-6468
Office Hours: Tu/Th, 2-3pm, OSCR Underground, Office 1, in the ILC and by appointment.

Prof. Mike Evans
Address: Lab. of Tree-Ring Research Room 214, W. Stadium (west side of Football stadium- up stairs to second level at Gate 15)
Phone:  626-2897
Office Hours: Tu/Th, 2-3pm, OSCR Underground, Office 1, in the ILC

Graduate Teaching Assistants
Adam Csank (major- Geosciences)
Address: Lab. of Tree-Ring Research, Room 104A, W. Stadium (west side of Football stadium- near Gate 15)

Phone: 621-5391

Office Hours: Th 11:15a-12:15p, OSCR Underground, Office 1, in the ILC; Wednesday 2-3pm, in Rm. 104A in the W. Stadium, or by appointment.

Ela Czyzowska (major- Arid Lands Studies)
Address: Lab. of Tree-Ring Research, Room 295 W. Stadium (west side of Football stadium- up stairs to second level at Gate 13)

Phone: 621-9732

Office Hours: By appointment; contact via email.

Jennifer Pullen (major- Arid Lands Studies)
Address: Room 336 Chavez

Office Hours: Tu 11:15a-12:15p, OSCR Underground, Office 1 in the ILC; Monday 2-3pm in Chavez 336.

Textbook and Readings
An Inconvenient Truth-The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It, by Al Gore, Rodale, 2006, 328pp, ISBN-13:978-1-59486-567-1.  Available at the UA Bookstore.   Additional required readings from selected topical, authoritative and timely sources are linked in the Schedule/Syllabus below as password-protected Portable Document Format (pdf) files.


We will set up ( and subscribe you to a class listserv once we have collected active email accounts from all students in the first week of class. 

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How to study:  
We want you to understand the ideas we'll discuss, enjoy the course, and get good grades.  Study habits which will help you master this course with ease are:

Academic resources: The University and the Internet offer many sources of help (Or talk with me and I'll help you find what you need): 

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Grades: your grade will be determined based on the following weighted average:

Letter Grades:  The following are guaranteed grades (although the lower boundaries of each subdivision may may be adjusted very slightly downward depending on final grade distribution):

          A (90-100%), B (80-90), C (65-80), D (55-65), E (<55).

Extra Credit: Relevant and approved TV specials (NOVA, Discovery Channel), special talks/lectures, popular movies can be viewed and journal/magazine articles read after which a 1-page double-spaced typewritten summary/critique must be submitted within 1 week of opportunity for 1 EC point each, up to a maximum of 5 EC points and will be added on to your final class grade average.  NOTE: Only 2 extra points may be earned after November 20 and before 5pm on December 5, and none after December 5.  Instructors will advertise some opportunities, and you are encouraged to find others but you must obtain approval from instructors before attempting to use them for extra credit.  NO PLAGIARISM- like your other writing, it will be checked!!


    In addition to your summary of the movie basics and how it relates to this class, you should also consider the specific questions in the parenthesis.

        Silent Running (why save the biosphere?)
        Soylent Green (is source and sustainability of energy and food realistic?)
        Deep Impact (any relation to reality? could society really survive?)
        Red Planet (what is the local food chain? who are the autotrophs? primary consumers? secondary consumers?)
        The Matrix (is source and sustainability of energy and food realistic?)
        Chain Reaction (is this source of energy realistic?)
        The Day After Tomorrow (is this scenario likely at the speed depicted?)
        Syriana (how do your choices matter?)
        Total Recall (how does this relate to resource scarcity?)
        Dune (how does this relate to resource scarcity?)


        What's Up with the weather? [2000, Frontline/NOVA] QC981.8.G56 W453 2000

        Warnings from the ice? [1998, NOVA] QC981.8.G56 W37 1998
        Global Warming (Climate, Weather and People [1998] QC981.8.G56 G56 1998
        Tales from Other Worlds [1986, WQED] QE31 .P53 1986
        The Climate Puzzle [1986, WQED] QE31 .P53 1986
        Fate of the Earth [1986, WQED] QE31 .P53 1986
        The Solar Seas [1986, WQED] QE31 .P53 1986
        The Fallacy of Global Warming [1999] QC981.8 G56 F34
        Rising Waters: Global Warming and the fate of the Pacific Islands [2000] QC 981.8 G56 R56

        "Human Impacts on Climate: A Broader View than Reported in the 2007 IPCC Report", A talk by Roger Pielke Sr.,      
            Professor, University of Colorado, Thursday, August 23, 2007, 2:30 PM–3:30 PM, Physics-Atmospheric Sciences,
            Room 224 [Map]
        "Adaptive Federalism: The Case of Climate Change", A talk by David Adelman & Kirsten Engel, Professors College of Law, University of Arizona

            Friday, November 09, 2007, 8:30 - 9:45AM, Swede Johnson Room 205
        "Topic on Pleistocene Climate Change", A talk by Peter Fawcett, University of New Mexico,
            Thursday, November 15, 2007, 4:00 PM–5:00 PM, Haury Anthropology Building, Room 129

        "Global Warming and Ocean Acidification: Double Trouble for Marine Ecosystems", by Dr. Dick Feeley, NOAA-PMEL,
             Tuesday November 6, 2007, 6:30PM, Koffler Building, Room 204

        UA Global Climate Change Lecture Series podcasts (Fall 2006).

The History Channel (check your local listings to verify times)

Tuesday Sept 18

09:00 PM    The Universe: Secrets of the Sun 

Thursday Sept 20

07:00 PM    Modern Marvels: Insulation

Friday Sept. 21

01:00 AM    Boneyard: Bio Waste

09:00 PM    Mega Disasters: Krakatoa's Revenge 

Sat Sept 22

01:00 AM    Mega Disasters: Krakatoa's Revenge 

09:00 PM    How the Earth Was Made

11:00 PM    Mega Disasters: Gamma Ray Burst 

Sunday Sept 23

04:00 PM    How the Earth Was Made 

Tuesday Sept 25

10:00 PM    Mega Disasters: Glacier Meltdown 

Wed Sept 26

02:00 AM    Mega Disasters: Glacier Meltdown 

08:00 PM    Modern Marvels: Fertilizer 

Fri Sept 28

09:00 PM    The Universe: Life and Death of a Star 

Sat Sept 29

10:00 AM    Mega Disasters: Gamma Ray Burst

11:00 AM    Mega Disasters: Comet Catastrophe

12:00 PM    Mega Disasters: Krakatoa's Revenge

08:00 PM    Mega Disasters: Comet Catastrophe

09:00 PM    Mega Disasters: Gamma Ray Burst

10:00 PM    Mega Disasters: Glacier Meltdown

11:00 PM    Mega Disasters: Mega Freeze 

        CNN Planet in Peril (
            Tue Oct 23 Part I, 9 PM Eastern Time
            Wed Oct 24 Part II, 9 PM Eastern Time

       Peak Oil video (Full peak oil video, about 55 minutes)

Syllabus and Schedule (Subject to change and frequent update)






Aug. 21/23


Introduction: Our Changing Planet

AIT Introduction (optional) p. 12-17; NYT Gore Book Critique;  Global Climate Change Fact and Fiction?  Activity 1 is here.


Aug 28/30


"A Silent Alarm": Atmospheric composition and the Greenhouse Effect

AIT p. 18-37 (optional: 38-41);
Kump, Kasting and Crane, The Earth System, Ch. 3, pp. 34-41; 41-54.  Reading focus questions are here.
A sample Quiz 1 is here.  Sample Quiz 1 answers are here.  Activity 2 is here.

Quiz 1

Sept. 4/6


"Things They Are A Changin'": The Record of Climate Change

AIT p. 42-67 (optional: 67-71) G-H Gases and Temperature; Global warming and sea ice/glaciers/CO2/coastlines/etc; US Temperature Data; Tipping Point  Activity 3 is here; Activity 4 is here.


Sept. 11/13


"Hurricane Watch": Climate Change and Severe Weather

AIT p. 72-99; Kump, Kasting and Crane, The Earth System, Ch. 4, pp. 55-82; A. Haag on recent trends in hurricane frequency.  Reading focus questions are here.
A sample Quiz 2 is here.  Sample Quiz 2 answers are here.  Activity 5 is here.

Quiz 2;
Term paper topics due. 

Sept 18/20


"Water, Water Everywhere, And Fewer Drops to Drink": Climate Change and The Water Cycle

AIT p. 100-121 (optional: p. 122-125); water cycle; N. American water impacts; more water and less to drink; drought and Dust Bowl; precipitation and storm changes; wetter and dryer.  Activity 6 is here.


Sept 25/27


"The Ends of the Earth": Climate Change in Polar Regions

AIT p. 126-137; 142-147; 176-185 (optional: pp. 138-141); Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (2005) key findings (click on findings to read more; click through images to see more; especially 1, 2, 3, 10 ; optional: 4,7,8) A sample quiz 3 is here. Sample Quiz 3 answers are here. Activity 7 is here. 

Quiz 3

Oct. 2/4


"An Ocean in Motion": Ocean Circulation

AIT p. 148-151; salty ocean; surface currents; what is El Nino? what is La Nina? El Nino origins; thermohaline circulation; Younger Dryas event.  Activity 8 is here.

 current grades

Oct. 9/11


Up for Air - Review and Exam

 Sample Quiz 3"A" is here. Midterm exam answers are here.

Exam 1

Oct. 16/18


"No Free Lunch- Maybe No Lunch at All": Climate Change and Ecology;
"Global Change Makes Me Sick": Climate Change and Human Health

AIT pp. 152-157; 162-171; 176-179 (again) (optional: pp. 158-161)
AIT pp. 172-175; biomes; colors of life; global carbon cycle; livestock and greenhouse effect; food webs and energy; coral reefs and coral crisis; lengthening growing season; invasive plants-bufflegrass
Activity 9 is here; Activity 10 is here.


Oct. 23/25


"A New Atlas?": Sea Level

AIT p. 180-209; (optional: 210-213); IPCC AR4 Working Group I Technical Summary, section 3.3.3: Changes in Sea Level.  Activity 11 is here.  Sample quiz 4 is here. Sample quiz 4 solutions are here.

Quiz 4

Oct 30/Nov. 1


"Collision Course?": Population Growth and Climate Change

AIT p. 214-219; Cohen (2005).  Activity 12 is here.


Nov. 6/8


"Up With People- Necessities and Luxuries": Population Growth and Natural Resources

AIT p. 220-231; Global oil production; World mineral deposits; Tropical deforestation; Causes of deforestation; Soil degradation.
Sample quiz 5 is here.

Quiz 5;
Term papers due Nov 8th 12:30pm in class

Nov 13/15


"What a Waste": Economic Growth and Climate Change

AIT p. 232-253; IPCC radiative forcing; air pollution; catalytic converter; stratospheric ozone
Sample quiz 6 is here


Nov. 20 (22: no class: Thanksgiving holiday)


"Denial Ain't Just a River in Egypt": How We Know What We Know

AIT p. 254-255; 260-269 (optional: p. 256-259); NY Times report on the release of the IPCC's Synthesis Report summary for Policymakers (this latter reading is optional).  Activity 15 is here.

Quiz 6
Grade Summary

Nov. 27/29


"Crisis = Opportunity": What Are You Going to Do?

AIT p. 270-283; 288-304; 305-321 (optional: p. 284-287; 322-328).  Find out and write down your atmospheric pollution emissions for Nov. 2007 using the Airhead Calculator here (click on Emissions Calculator), for use in class Nov. 27th.  Here is the NPR Consumer Consequences Game we played in class.

Economist essay on business and climate change is here. 
Washington Post article on a carbon tax is here.  An optional news piece from the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald on Sweden's carbon tax is here.  Activity 17 is here.


Dec. 4


Catch Up and Wrap Up; Review

 Course notes, readings, webpage links; Sample Quiz 6A is here.  Quiz 6A solutions are here.

Dec 11 (Tuesday), 11am-1pm, ILC 140


Final Exam

 Review session/Q&A with Jenn and Adam, Thurs, Dec 6, 12:30-2:30pm, ILC 141 (corrected location)

Final Exam


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