This elective will explore how Arctic, tropical, and temperate ecosystems are responding to climate change. Each of these ecosystem types are globally significant and changes to them have impacts that affect earth system processes. The elective will examine the Arctic (with a focus on Alaska), temperate rainforests (Pacific Northwest), and tropical rainforests (the Amazon). We will explore how climate change is directly affecting the ecosystem type, as well as how terrestrial and aquatic (streams/rivers) ecosystems respond to these direct impacts. For example, we will explore how permafrost thaw in the Arctic is increasing decomposition of carbon that was long thought to be stable. In the temperate and tropical ecosystems, we examine how the impacts of drought (such as increased forest fires) have affected both rainforest ecosystems and the streams/rivers that drain them. Students will learn some fundamentals of ecosystem science, including how to do carbon budgets. This course will have required in-person field and lab work which will enable students to learn tools used to measure ecosystem functioning (like primary production and respiration rates, CO2 sensors). There may also be opportunities to assist in optional field trips. All other lectures, workshops, and seminars will be remote. Assignments include a mid-term, write-ups of field and lab work, and an independent research paper and presentation of that research.
This course will be offered as a hybrid of remote and in-person class meetings. Most lectures, seminars, and workshops will occur remotely. Several required lab and field activities will occur in-person on the Evergreen campus or in the Olympia area.