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The ocean’s role in the climate system on geological time scales

This course introduces students to the role of the ocean in long term climate change.

man holding a robot remote vessel in the water, with an arctic view in front of him

It will cover different types of ocean-climate interactions going back from the Eocene 40 million years ago to today and into the future. Students will learn what the role is of climate, the geography of the continents and ice-sheets on the ocean circulation. The course will describe how the ocean in turn affects climate by transporting heat around the globe and taking up or releasing carbon dioxide. Learning will be facilitated through lectures, exercises, demonstrations, group discussions, literature reviews, and presentations.

Fall term 21 | The course will be given on campus. But this information could be updated before the start of the course depending on the situation at that time.

Course content

• basic climate dynamics with a focus on climate variations above geological time
• the role of the ocean during climate transitions
• the importance of plate tectonics and the geography of the continents for the ocean circulation
• the importance of ocean circulation for the climate through its transport of heat and its impact on the carbon cycle
• the interaction between the ocean and the cryosphere

  • Course structure

    The teaching consists of lectures, group lessons, seminars, exercises, and project work.


    You grade will be made up of:

    • 15% Ocean Properties Panoply exercise
    • 15% Carbon Cycle exercise
    • 15% Eocene-Oligocene project
    • 15% Presentation of final project
    • 40% Report on final project.

    a. Knowledge control is done through written tests, written reports, and oral reports. Late submission of written reports has consequences for the course's final grade, which is further described in the course's grading criteria. Examination takes place in English.

    The examiner has the opportunity to decide on an adapted or alternative examination for students with disabilities.

    b. To pass the final grade, participation in seminars and project work is required. If special reasons exist, the examiner may, after consultation with the relevant teacher, grant the student exemption from the obligation to participate in certain compulsory teaching.

    c. The course's final grade is set according to a seven-grade goal-related scale:
    A = Excellent
    B = Very good
    C = Good
    D = Satisfactory
    E = Sufficient
    Fx = Fail, some more work is required
    F = Fail, much more work is required

    e. Students who fail in regular exams are entitled to undergo further exams as long as the course is given. The number of test cases is not limited. Other compulsory course parts are also compared with tests. Students who have passed the examination may not undergo a re-examination for higher grades. A student, who has passed two tests for a course or part of a course without approved results, has the right to have another examiner appointed, unless special reasons speak against it. The request for this shall be made to the Institutional Board. The course has at least three examination opportunities per academic year in the years in which teaching is given. For those academic years that the course is not given, at least one examination opportunity is offered.

    f. The grade Fx is given the opportunity to supplement up to the grade E. The examiner decides on which supplementary tasks to be performed and what criteria apply to be approved for the supplement. Completion must take place before the next examination.

  • Schedule

    The schedule will be available no later than one month before the start of the course. We do not recommend print-outs as changes can occur. At the start of the course, your department will advise where you can find your schedule during the course.
  • Course literature

    Note that the course literature can be changed up to two months before the start of the course.

    Alan P. Trujillo and Harold V. Thurman
    Essentials of Oceanography
    Published by Pearson , 11th Edition
    Paperback:  ISBN: 9781292041001

  • Course reports

  • Contact

    Agatha de BoerSenior lecturer, Paleo ocean modelling
    Agatha de Boer
    +46 (0)8 16 47 30 | Room: R238

    Other teachers: Dr. Navijt Sagoo, Dr. Helen Coxall, Dr. Frederik Schenk