Climate Impacts on the Pacific Northwest
Winter Quarter 2011
ATMS 585A / ENVIR 585A / ESS 585A / SMA 585A
Amy Snover & Nathan Mantua
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:30-12:30
Dr. Amy Snover
Dr. Nathan Mantua
Our offices are on the first floor of John M. Wallace Hall (formerly Academic Computing Center), 3737 Brooklyn Avenue NE.
Course website: htpp://cses.washington.edu/cig/outreach/585
Electronic drop box: https://catalyst.uw.edu/collectit/dropbox/aksnover/13241
Course list-serve: email@example.com
This interdisciplinary course focuses on determining cases in which an understanding of Pacific Northwest climate and its regional influence could be used to improve regional natural resource management. Students will develop an understanding of the causes and consequences of natural variations in regional climate (driven by large-scale climate oscillations such as El Niño/La Niña and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation) and projected trends resulting from global warming. We will study the importance of both climate fluctuations and society's reactions to those fluctations for the region’s natural resources, focusing on PNW water, fish, forest, and coastal resources. We will examine the natural, economic, and institutional contexts of regional resource management decisions in order to identify real-world opportunities where existing information about natural climate variability and human-caused global warming could improve regional resource management.
The following core questions will guide our work throughout the quarter:
Using this analysis we will assess the vulnerability of PNW natural resources to climate variability and change.
In this course, you will:
As a result of this course, you will be able to:
Each week, class time will be devoted to lectures, discussion and in-class activities. Outside readings will provide the necessary background to understand these lectures and participate in these discussions; this understanding will be evaluated via weekly assignments.
The first 2.5 weeks of the course introduce the science of PNW climate variability and climate change, as well as the uncertainty and applicability of this type of information.
For each natural resource (water, forests, salmon, coasts), we will spend one day reviewing the specific pathways by which climate fluctuations manifest as impacts on the resource and one day examining the implications of this climate sensitivity for management of that resource. As a term project, students will work in interdisciplinary teams to develop a climate vulnerability and adaptation assessment for a real-world management or policy-making body in the Pacific Northwest.
The course readings consist of a selection of scientific journal articles, book chapters and reports, available via the course website.
Note on Reading in an Interdisciplinary Course
The assigned readings are complex and will cover many subjects, of which you will probably only be familiar with a few. Part of what you’ll practice in this class will be reading journal articles and reports in fields other than your own, striving to glean both the big picture and some supporting details. The key to avoiding getting bogged down by the reading is to focus on understanding the big picture and the key arguments supporting the overall conclusions. Essay assignments and class discussions will require demonstrating this level of understanding rather than rehashing the details of each reading. The readings listed as “background” were chosen to provide additional information for those new to a topic or those wishing to delve in further. We encourage you to utilize your fellow classmates, in addition to the instructors, as resources for further clarification of or insight into issues outside of your field.
Assignments & Expectations
In addition to brief lectures by the instructors and guest lecturers, part of almost every class meeting is spent in discussion. You will be evaluated on your preparation for these discussions, on eight short review assignments, on the weekly essays you write in response to the readings and guest lectures, and on the term “white paper” project.
We will grade each of you on the quality of your work; we will not grade on a curve. The average grade during previous years was ~3.5.
Because the assignments are essential for helping you keep up with the topics, and because the essays will often form the basis of class discussions, we hope you will make every effort to turn all assignments in on time. Late assignments (without prior approval) will have a 10% penalty subtracted for each day late.
To request academic accommodations due to a disability, contact
Disability Resources for Students
If you have a letter from that office indicating that you have a disability which requires academic accommodations, present the letter to the instructor so that we can discuss the accommodations needed for the class.
Plagiarism, cheating, and other misconduct are serious violations of the student conduct code. We expect that you will know and follow the UW's policies on cheating and plagiarism. Any suspected cases of academic misconduct will be handled according to UW regulations. More information, including definitions and examples, can be found in the Faculty Resource for Gracing and the Student Conduct Code (WAC 478-120).