ESP5050 - Earth Surface Dynamics
The Earth’s near-surface environment, its so-called critical zone, supports almost all known life, holds most of the geologic record, and is the region where all of earth’s dynamic symstems intersect. Changes in climate, land use, water resources and ecosystems alter the form and function of its critical zone, creating landforms such as river deltas, lakes, beaches, gullies, bogs, dune fields, salt flats and dried lake beds. This course examines recent trends and changes in Earth’s most dynamic system, its critical zone, with emphasis on how these changes affect the very shape of our environment, including both terrestrial and sub-surface features. Although this course incorporates many aspects of glacial and periglacial geology, it goes beyond those remnants of past climate regimes to look at future earth scenarios. Topics range across many disciplines but all are, in essense, geomorphic responses to a dynamic earth. Potential topics: the impacts of changing sea level on river sediment and dissolved loads; ecological and water quality consequences of infilled dams/lakes, soil erosion and land conversion; climate-induced changes in floodplains, permafrost and Artctic shorelines; heightened storm surge from changes in terrestrial sediment budgets and marine currents; consequences of newly deglaciated land on Greenland, Antarctica and high mountain regions.