Climate Science Minor

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Human activities are causing Earth’s climate to change at rates that are unprecedented in the geological record. Climate Science is of critical importance to society and is one of the most pressing issues now and in the future. The Climate Science Minor provides UMass undergraduates who are interested in climate change with a strong scientific foundation to strengthen degree programs in a wide variety of disciplines. Coursework in the Climate Science Minor provides students with a robust understanding of the fundamental mechanisms that control planetary climate, and also explores the multifaceted aspects of a warming planet including impacts on agriculture and aquaculture, Earth’s biota, freshwater supply and availability, and sustainability. In addition to a scientific knowledge, students completing the Climate Science Minor will also gain expertise in the societal, political and economic dimensions of climate change and will explore potential solutions including greenhouse gas mitigation strategies, sustainable energy solutions, and climate adaptation. The Climate Science Minor gives students the opportunity to investigate climate change from a wide variety of disciplinary perspectives while gaining a firm grounding in the basic geological, chemical, physical, biological, ecological, and oceanographic processes driving and responding to climate variability, and how these processes interact with and affect society. 

The Climate Science Minor complements a wide range of majors across campus and is particularly useful for students who are interested in pursuing careers or graduate studies in such fields as climate science, atmospheric or ocean science, journalism, communication, data science, computer science, environmental science, geoscience, geology, policy, global finance, civil engineering, natural hazards and quantitative risk analysis, public health, sustainability, agriculture, and related fields. 


Climate Science Minor Courses:

(17 credits total)

The climate science minor provides a coherent and structured curriculum that explores the physical science underpinning of the climate system, past climate change, and climate change impacts. All students in the minor will complete two introductory courses: Intro to Climate Science (GEOGRAPH 110) and Intro to Oceanography (GEOL 103). are taught each semester and hold PS Gen Ed designations. All students will also complete Climate Dynamics (GEOGRAPH 354) which is offered each year and covers Earth’s energy balance, atmospheric circulation, and the hydrological cycle. then complete two courses from a list of climate science courses that are offered annually or in alternate years (see full list below). These options range from the scientific investigation of past climate, to numerical modelling of the climate system, to climate change impacts on the our built environment and human society.

Required Courses:

  1. GEOGRAPH 110 – Intro to Climate Science (4 credits). No prerequisites.
  2. GEOL 103 – Intro to Oceanography (4 credits). No prerequisites. 
  3. GEOGRAPH 354 – Climate Dynamics (3 credits). Prerequisite: GEOGRAPH 110
  4. And two of the following courses: 
    • *Note: an additional one course from the list below can be used to replace either GEOL 103 or GEOGRAPH 110
    • GEOL 394LI – Earth History: Life, Climate, Environment (3 credits). Prerequisites: GEOGRAPH 110 or GEOL 101 or GEOL 103 or GEOL 105; fulfills Integrative Experience for Earth Systems, Geology and Environmental Science majors.
    • GEOL 494LI – Living on Earth (3 credits). No prerequisites, fulfills Integrative Experience for Environmental Science majors.
    • GEOG 356 - Climate Crisis (3 credits). No prerequisites.
    • GEOSCI 552 - Climate Change Impacts & Solutions (3 credits). Prerequisites: GEOGRAPH 110 or GEOL 103.
    • GEOSCI 554 – Ocean Dynamics (3 credits). Prerequisites: MATH 128 or 132, and PHYSICS 131.
    • GEOSCI 556 – Climate & Earth System Modeling (3 credits). Prerequisites: MATH 128 or 132, & PHYSICS 131.
    • GEOSCI 558 – Paleoclimatology (3 credits). Prerequisites: GEOGRAPH 110 and GEOGRAPH 354.
    • GEOSCI 559 - Paleoceanography (3 credits). Prerequisites: GEOGRAPH 110 or GEOL 103.