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SOES6073 Global Ocean Carbon Cycle, Ocean Acidification and Climate

Module Overview

The objectives of this short course are to give students a thorough understanding of the natural and anthropogenic processes controlling cycling of carbon in the geobiosphere and consequently also climate on different timescales.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

1. To provide a research level understanding of biogeochemical processes that impact the ocean carbon cycle and in understanding human impact on the oceans; and the potential consequences and challenges for marine ecosystems posed by the ocean acidification. 2. To provide experience with data analysis and interpretation of the ocean system, relevant to change on the oceans. 3. To teach a range of key skills including problem solving, presentation and communication.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Be able to understand basic carbonate and carbon cycle geochemistry, and biogeochemical processes that control the ocean carbon cycle and ocean acidification, and their relationships to ocean circulation, ocean biogeochemical cycles, be able to quantify their impact on marine systems.
  • Be able to understand natural processes controlling the cycling of carbon and climate on different timescales, and human related impacts
  • Be able to appreciate the benefits and limitations of biogeochemical understanding and interpretational approaches.
  • Data analysis and computer literacy skills
  • Problem solving associated with data interpretation
  • Library information retrieval and critical analysis of selected readings
  • Presentation skills


Biogeochemical processes in the ocean control the Earth’s climate and the impact of human perturbations on the environment. Changes in the biogeochemical balance of the ocean/earth system have had dramatic effects on climate through time and humans are perturbing the system faster than at any time in the past. We need to take an interdisciplinary approach to understand the impact of human activity on the ocean and climate. Anthropogenic emission of CO2 to the atmosphere and the associated consequences of global warming and ocean acidification pose serious threats to the natural balance of the global geobiosphere and are two of the biggest environmental challenges we are currently facing. The objectives of this short course is to give students a thorough understanding of the natural and anthropogenic processes controlling cycling of carbon in the geobiosphere and consequently also climate on different timescales; a good understanding of the marine dissolved inorganic carbon system, carbonate geochemistry and the potential consequences and challenges posed by the ongoing anthropogenic ocean acidification.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

This will be an intensive short course of three weeks duration Formal Lectures: will provide the theory underlying the biogeochemical processes relevant to the ocean carbon cycle, ocean acidification and human impact on the environment. Each lecture systematically covers the main concepts and topics by the use of PowerPoint presentations, supported by illustrated handout materials. The lecturers’ own experience in these fields is incorporated where possible. Appropriate references to parts of course textbooks and introductory journal references are provided at each lecture. Computer practicals: will involve computer based data synthesis and interpretation exercises relevant to marine biogeochemistry and the ocean carbon cycle. This report will require data manipulation and data assimilation from literature. This work will be written up in the form of a report, following the format of a peer-review paper. Presentations: students will give an oral PowerPoint presentation on a key topic. In addition, the students (teams of 3-4) will produce a poster on a key topic. Group project: A group project will be assigned in week 1 with relevance to the Intergovernmental Panel For Climate Change meeting that will be held in late 2015. A wide range of support can be provided for those students who have further or specific learning and teaching needs.

Independent Study47
Total study time150


Assessment Strategy

100% Coursework comprising: Practical problem solving assessment (60%): 2500 word report. Tests Learning Outcomes 1, 2 and 3. Oral and poster presentations (40%): A 5 minute oral presentation and scientific poster presentation. These pieces of coursework contribute equally to the mark for this part of the course. There will also be group presentations. Tests Learning Outcomes 1, 2 and 3.


MethodPercentage contribution
Poster Presentation  (5 minutes) 40%
Practical assessment  (2500 words) 60%
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