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Unit of study_

GEOS2115: Oceans, Coasts and Climate Change

This unit of study introduces core concepts about how the formation of ocean basins and their influence on climate govern the development of coasts and continental margins. These concepts provide a framework for understanding the geographic variation of coasts, continental shelves and sediment accumulations in the deep ocean. Ocean-basin evolution is explained in terms of movements within the Earth's interior and how these movements determine the geometry of ocean basins, and their alpine counterparts, which interact with the global circulation of the ocean and atmosphere. This interaction plays a key role in marine sedimentation and controls the environmental conditions responsible for the development of coral reefs and other ecosystems. The Unit of Study systematically outlines how these factors have played out to produce, by gradual change, the coasts we see today, as well as the less familiar deposits hidden beneath the sea and coastal lands. The Unit thereby outlines how knowledge of responses to climate change in the past allow us to predict environmental responses to accelerated climate change occurring now and in the future due to the industrial greenhouse effect, but places these responses into perspective against the geological record. Overall therefore, the Unit aims to provide familiarity with fundamental phenomena central to the study of marine geoscience and environmental impacts, introduced through process-oriented explanations. The Unit of Study is structured around GIS-based practical sessions and problem-based project work, for which lectures provide the theoretical background.

Code GEOS2115
Academic unit Geosciences Academic Operations
Credit points 6
GEOL1501 or GEOS1X01 or GEOS1X02 or GEOS1X03 or BIOL1XXX or ENVI1003
Assumed knowledge:
GEOG1001 or GEOL1001 or GEOL1002 or GEOS1003 or GEOS1903 or ENVI1002 or GEOL1902 or GEOL1501

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. understand the characteristics of the ocean basins and their adjacent continental margins
  • LO2. differentiate between typical rock associations from different marine settings
  • LO3. synthesise sedimentary core data in a paleo-oceanographic context
  • LO4. understand the basic components of Earth’s climate and ocean system and implications of future model projections
  • LO5. understand the long-term cycle governing the growth and destruction of ocean basins, and how it relates to long-term climate change
  • LO6. distinguish between different plate boundary types and the associated tectonic processes
  • LO7. understand the competing influences on sea level change at different time-scales
  • LO8. use GIS-type applications
  • LO9. understand what drives coral reef growth and demise
  • LO10. understand coastal processes
  • LO11. understand climate cycles and their drivers at different time scales
  • LO12. Use a Jupyter notebook and python to analyse time-dependent observations and climate model simulations
  • LO13. Understand the greenhouse effect and its impact on Earth’s energy budget
  • LO14. Understand the ocean’s role in transient climate change
  • LO15. Understand major climate feedback processes
  • LO16. Understand the ocean’s general circulation
  • LO17. Understand the impacts of climate change on regional scales