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Departments & Programs



Earth System Science studies the planet's oceans, lands, and atmosphere as an integrated system, with an emphasis on changes occurring during the current period of overwhelming human influence, the Anthropocene. Faculty and students within the department use the principles of biology, chemistry, and physics to study problems involving processes occurring at the Earth's surface, such as climate change and global nutrient cycles, providing a foundation for problem solving related to environmental sustainability and global environmental change.

The research of the department focuses on the following challenges:

  • Understanding and quantifying changing global biogeochemical cycles of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and others essential elements.
  • Determining the rate and magnitude of climate change, including negative and positive feedbacks.
  • Addressing the impacts of global change on food and water resources.
  • Elucidating integrated ecosystem dependent hydrologic cycles.
  • Determining contaminants and pollutant fluxes, and solutions to mitigated impacts on human and ecosystem health.
  • Quantifying land use and land cover change resulting from agriculture, restoration, urbanization drivers.
  • Modeling of integrated Earth Systems