Further information: Gary Wagenbach: Oceans, Climate, and Corals – Connections and Perspectives for Minnesotans

Expanded description:  We are all challenged to explore and begin to comprehend aspects of how selected global scale phenomena work.  Some basics of ocean function relevant to climate change will be introduced, e.g., a lot of released atmospheric CO2 is absorbed by oceans.  Imagine snorkeling on a coral reef.  Estimates of the status of coral reefs in the Pacific and Atlantic basins have been in the news the last few years – we will investigate the nature of coral reefs and issues they face.  Were there ever seas in an area we now call Minnesota? Does our weather have oceanic connections?  How shall we think about sea level rise, also in the news, given our location so far from oceans?  How do the topics above relate to climate change? The course will bring together perspectives from marine biology, geology, environmental science, policy, and conservation.  

No single book covers the axis of this syllabus.  Articles, sources, and videos relevant to topics in the syllabus will be made available ahead of classes via notes, PDF readings, and URLs.  Notes for each class will be provided post session.  A list of optional books and other sources in which students may be interested will also be provided.

Note that session 6 will be devoted to discussing topical articles or other sources proposed by members of the class that expand on an aspect of this syllabus in which they are especially interested.  Students wanting to do this will submit their proposed reading to Gary in advance during weeks 2-5 and he will select from among the submissions.  Gary is available to assist students who have a topic or source in mind but who may desire help.

Session 1: Oceans – how formed.  Minnesota landforms having an historical connection with seas.  In modern times, weather happenings in the Pacific don’t stay there!  Also reports from the Pacific Ecoregion – corals, sea levels & the most recent glacial cycle.

Session 2:  Reports from the Caribbean, Florida, and Bermuda—A lecture with graphics and video.  Minnesota connections with the tropics.
Begin looking for articles to discuss during Session 6 – send to Gary.

Session 3:  Climate Change & Global Warming as Explanations for damaged reefs in the Pacific, Caribbean, and Florida.  Sea surface high temperatures cause bleaching of corals; plus, additional interesting complications.
Continue looking for articles to discuss during Session 6.

Session 4:  Minnesota’s Connections to Oceanic and Marine Ecosystems
Where does released CO2 go? Consequences of oceanic absorption of CO2 warming seas.  Thwaites glacier in context in Antarctica and sea level rise; how to think about & definitions.  Does sea level matter to Minnesotans?  Possible Zoom visit by a guest.
Continue looking for articles to discuss during Session 6.

Session 5: Describing Climate Change, Warming & Forecasting.  Computer modeling is a powerful tool as are historic records. Looking into the future. 

Continue looking for articles to discuss during Session 6

Session 6:  How to Talk About Climate Change, Warming, and Crisis.  One of the most important things you can do is talk with others. Discuss articles selected by participants and available for all to read.

Session 7: First hour: Continue discussion of articles if needed.  Second hour: Feeling Discouraged? You’re Not Alone.  Recognizing a common experience; navigating feeling discouraged & fostering engagement.
Possible Zoom visitor: a Carleton professor who teaches about global climate and environment/reflections on working with the next generation.

Session 8: Acting Locally and Beyond.  Many people in our corner of Minnesota are responding to the challenges before us.
Possible Zoom visitor: a climate activist.