General information

Module title Climate changes in the Earth history. When, how and why?nd ?
Language English
Module lecturer dr hab. Karina Apolinarska
Lecturer's email
Lecturer position dr hab., prof UAM
Faculty Faculty of Geographical and Geological Sciences
Semester 2021/2022 (winter)
Duration 30


Module aim (aims)

The course in an accessible and intelligible way presents changes in the climate throughout Earth history. Different forcing mechanisms are discussed: the geochemical aspect (mainly carbon cycle - CO2, CH4, and others), tectonics and weathering, all-important on the longer-term perspective. Examples of greenhouse and icehouse climates in the Earth history are presented, including mechanisms and consequences of the cooling between Cretaceous and Quaternary. Anthropogenic influence on the carbon cycle and climate during the Holocene and Anthropocene is discussed. The importance of the greenhouse gases, of both natural and anthropogenic genesis, to the climate on Earth is presented.

Pre-requisites in terms of knowledge, skills and social competences (where relevant)


Week 1 - What makes Earth climate unique? The role of carbon, water and greenhouse gases. Week 2 & Week 3 - Carbon cycle on Earth – a long time perspective. Biosphere, volcanism, CO2 and weathering (+seminar). Week 4 - Plate tectonics and long-term climate. Examples from the Earth past. Polar position of continents. Supercontinents. Spreading of oceanic crust and CO2. Tectonic uplift and CO2 removal. Week 5 - The greenhouse word. An example from Cretaceous. Week 6 - From the greenhouse climate to the glacial word. Mechanisms and consequences of the cooling between Cretaceous and Quaternary. Week 7 & Week 8 - Quaternary climate changes from the carbon cycle perspective. CO2 and orbital cycles. The fate of CO2 during the glacial-interglacial cycle. Tracers of CO2. Week 9 - Quaternary climate changes from the carbon cycle perspective. CH4 and orbital cycles. Insolation control on monsoons. Week 10 & Week 11 - Disturbance of the carbon cycle, CO2 and CH4. Holocene and anthropocene perspective. Week 12 - Seminar Week 13 - Other greenhouse gases and their role in climate change. Water vapour, sulfate aerosols of natural and anthropogenic genesis. CFSs and ozone hole. Week 14 - Greenhouse gases and their role in climate change – prediction.

Reading list

· Archer D., 2011: Global warming. Understanding the forecast.· Drake F., 2000: Global Warming. The Science of Climate Change. Hodder Education· Issar A.S., 2003: Climate Changes during the Holocene and their Impact on Hydrological Systems. Cambridge University Press.· IPCC, 2013: Climate Change 2013: The Scientific Basis Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Cambridge University Press· Roberts N., 2000: The Holocene. An Environmental History. Blackwell Publishers.· Ruddiman W.F. 2008: Earth’s climate. Past and future. Freeman and Company. New York· Stanley S.M., 1998: Earth System History. W.H. Freeman and Company. New York