General course objectives
The course will introduce the students to the role which oceans play in mitigating the effects of climate change and to the challenges which human-induced multiple stressors bring to the aquatic ecosystems and food webs. The focus is on understanding the inter-connected effects of physical and chemical processes, changing environment and aquatic biota, and their feed-back mechanisms to the global climate. The course aims at giving the students insights into climate research and observation technology, while promoting an understanding of the complex issues of anthropogenic stressors, ecosystem services and societal costs of global change.
We will start from the physical processes regulating the climate and their variability from geological to annual time scales using examples from both oceanic and freshwater environments. Next, we will talk about the ecosystem and food web effects of increasing temperature and partial pressure of CO2 (ocean acidification) and how these effects influence the major ecosystem services – fish production and carbon sequestration - provided by the ocean. We will continue by investigating the inter-related and cumulative effects of different stressors (over-fishing, invasive species, pollution, among others) to the aquatic ecosystems. Finally, we will introduce the students to the available technology for observing and predicting (modeling) the effects of climate change, and to the societal efforts and costs for mitigating its effects. The course will consist of lectures and exercises highlighting the mechanisms and interactions between climate and aquatic ecosystems and guest lectures focusing on up-to-date climate research. The course will draw on multiple examples related to sustainable development goals, particularly with regards #14 (Life below water), #13 (Climate action) and #12 (Responsible production and consumption). The course will end in a student debate on controversial climate issues.
A student who has met the objectives of the course will be able to:
- Describe the processes behind the oceans capacity to counteract the anthropogenic climate change.
- Understand and describe the difference between natural and human-induced climate variability / change in different time scales (geological, decadal, annual).
- Classify and compare ecosystem effects of the climate change in different trophic levels of the aquatic food web, taking into account the variation in time and space.
- Describe and quantify cumulative effects of multiple stressors on aquatic ecosystems.
- Describe modern technologies for observing the climate change in the ocean and list examples for its use in up-to-date climate research.
- Construct simple conceptual, analytical and numerical modules which can be used in climate models.
- Quantify the effects of climate change on ecosystem services and therefore its costs for societies.
- Synthesize, compare and interpret literature on different aspects of climate change.
- Organize and present arguments related to climate-related controversial issues.