BGC & Climate

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Instructor: Prof. Nicolas Gruber ()

Teaching assistant: Dr. Meike Vogt ()


The global carbon cycle and climate are intricatelly coupled to each other with changes in one leading to changes in the other and vice versa. This course attempts to address a number of key questions around this coupling.  What is the nature and consequences of these interactions between the global carbon cycle and climate?  How has this interaction evolved over time, and how may it change in the future?

The course is structured around 3 major themes that represent important topics of recent and current research in biogeochemistry:

  • The anthropogenic perturbation of the global C cycle
  • Surprises in the greenhouse: Climate change and the global carbon cycle
  • The glacial-interglacial CO2 problem

Each theme will be introduced by a an overview and a discussion of the necessary building blocks. Then one to two research papers will be assigned and discussed in detail. The course is oriented towards developing a quantitative understanding of biogeochemical processes, and will involve the use of mathematical formalisms and simple models. Tutorials on selected topics and homework will provide for the necessary training.


The grading will be based on the following breakdown:

  • Exam: 95%
  • Presentation/Discussion: 5%


Slides are made available to the class via ILIAS (access to ETH students only)

Reading List

link to reading list 

Reference Books

  • Sarmiento, J. L. and N. Gruber, 2006, Ocean Biogeochemical Dynamics, Princeton University Press, 514pp. (available from the author, see also webpage)
  • Broecker, W. S. and T. H. Peng, 1999. Greenhouse Puzzles, 2nd edition, Eldigio Press, Palisades, NY, 251pp.
  • Chester, R. 1999. Marine Geochemistry, 2nd edition, Blackwell Science, 528pp.
  • Libes, S.M. 1992. An Introduction to Marine Biogeochemistry. John Wiley and Sons, Inc., N.Y. 734 pp.
  • Schlesinger, W.H.. 1997. Biogeochemistry - An analysis of global change, 2nd edition, Academic press, 588pp
  • IPCC, 2001. "Climate Change 2001: The scientific basis", Contribution to Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, New York, 881p
  • Field, C. B. and M. R. Raupach (eds), 2004: The global carbon cycle, Integrating humans, climate, and the natural world, SCOPE 62, Island Press, Washington, 526pp.

These books are available in the reserve section of the "Green Library" in the CHN building (Semesterapparat).

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Tue Jul 25 01:35:54 CEST 2017
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