ESM 203: Introduction to Earth System Science

Kelly Caylor & Samantha Stevenson

Interactions among the atmosphere, oceans, and land and models of Earth’s climate and hydrology. Application of knowledge about the Earth System in environmental management and policy.

Course objectives

  • To provide a foundation in the tools and terminology of system science, their application to Earth’s systems, their utility in environmental problem solving, and their relevance to successful environmental management.
  • To be able to apply principles of mass, energy, and momentum balance to understand the dynamics of the Earth’s biosphere, atmosphere, and hydrosphere.
  • To be able to explain the critical observations and methods that provide the basis for our empirical understanding of global change and Earth system dynamics.
  • To have a working capacity and familiarity with basics of environmental physics, including important principles of radiative transfer, fluid dynamics, and heat flow.
  • To understand the drivers of local and regional atmospheric dynamics.
  • To be able to describe the flow of mass and heat within the ocean and their importance to global and regional climates.
  • To be able to describe the energy, carbon, and water balance of landscapes, and their dependence on land surface properties.

G136: Field Studies in Water, Energy, and Ecosystems

Kelly Caylor

Introduction to the principles of environmental observation and the application of environmental physics to understanding the spatial and temporal dynamics of water and energy flows within local Californian ecosystems. Field work completed during break between winter and spring quarters.

Course Summary

This week-long intensive course, offered during the UC-system spring break, will provide an introduction to the principles of environmental physics and their application to ecological sciences, with a focus on combined instrumentation methods and analytical approaches for characterizing the spatial and temporal patterns of water and energy flows through Califor- nia ecosystems. Lectures and field activities will address the theory of operation, design, and implementation of methods used to quantify patterns and processes of energy and water with particular emphasis on characterizing the biological signature and ecological impact of coupled landscape ecological/hydrological dynamics. Course observations will be integrated with hydrological theory and modeling approaches in order to understand how water/energy balance is partitioned at the land surface and mechanisms that control hydrological dy- namics across scales from points to landscapes. Emphasis will be placed on applications of hydrological science and environmental biophysics to issues of sustainable landscape use, water resource conservation, preservation of biodiversity, and prevention/reversal of land degradation in dryland ecosystems.

Course Goals

  1. To form a quantitative understanding of environmental physics and its use in pre- dicting both physical/ecological constraints on patterns and processes related to the distribution and flows of energy, water, and carbon within ecosystems.
  2. To understand the theory behind environmental measurement techniques and their application to evaluate components of water and energy balance across a range of physical (point to landscape) and ecological (leaf to ecosystem) scales
  3. To integrate theory and observations of hydrological and physical science to address fundamental questions regarding plant water use, ecosystem structure and function, and the patterns of water and energy flows in dryland ecosystems.

G136 (Special “Shelter-in-place Edition”, Spring 2020): Principles of Environmental Data Analysis

Kelly Caylor Bryn Morgan

Course Summary

This course will provide an introduction to the principles of environmen- tal physics and their application to ecological sciences, with a focus on programming and data analysis in Python. Course activities will use data analysis to quantify environmental patterns and processes. Emphasis will be placed developing coding skills in Python and applying these skills to environmental and biophysical problems.

Course Goals

  1. To develop expertise in the Python programming language and the use of Python’s data science stack to effectively store, manipulate, and gain insight into environmental data.
  2. To be able to apply this understanding to characterize data on environmental patterns and processes at varying spatial and temporal scales.
  3. To use data to model environmental processes of energy and mass transfer.