Paul D Quay
The use of stable isotopes to study biogeochemical cycles in the oceans and atmosphere; specifically carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur cycles. Isotopic effects during photosynthesis, respiration, organic matter degradation. CaCO3 dissolution, methanogenesis, nitrification/denitrification, and sulfate reduction. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.
The objective of this course is to familiarize students with isotopic methods that can improve our understanding of the earth's major biogeochemical cycles. Specifically, we will focus on the water, carbon, oxygen and nitrogen cycles at local and global scales and on food webs. Initially, the basic characteristics of isotopic fractionations, notation, and mass spectrometric measurement are discussed. The students will learn how to be quantitative with isotopic data through biweekly problem sets that stress mass and isotope budgets. Knowledge of Excel and/or Matlab will be necessary. Usually the students have the opportunity to prepare an NSF type proposal or make an oral presentation on a topic of their choice that involves isotopic data.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Lectures twice a week and paper discussions. Biweekly or so quantitative problem sets. An oral presentation plus written report on a topic of students choice.
Students should be familiar with a spreadsheet program like Excel or a programming package like Matlab to answer problem sets. Required mathematical skill level is fairly basic.
Class assignments and grading
Biweekly problem sets that are quantitative.
Grades are based on midterm, problem sets, and an oral or written presentation.