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Oceans, Atmosphere, and Climate

Learning Objectives:

  1. Apply fundamental physical, chemical, and biological principles toward understanding the behavior of the oceans, atmosphere, and climate and the interrelationships of these systems with human society.

  2. Apply fundamental principles of ocean, atmospheric, and climate science through field, laboratory, and computer-based research experiences.

Foundation and Breadth:

  • BIO 81 or BIOHOPK 81 or HUMBIO 2A & 2B or EARTHSYS 116

  • CHEM 31A & 31B or 31X

  • ECON 1


  • MATH 19, 20, 21 

  • CME 100 (preferred), or MATH 51 and MATH 52 (MATH 52 not required if CME 100 completed)

  • PHYSICS 41, and PHYSICS 45 or GEOPHYS 110

  • STATS: BIO 174H or ECON 102A or STATS 101 or STATS 110 or 116 or 141or CME 106


  • EARTHSYS 111

  • EARTHSYS 112

  • EARTHSYS 210A or 210B (Senior Capstone & Reflection)

  • EARTHSYS 210P (Capstone Project) or Honors Thesis

  • EARTHSYS 260 (Internship) 

  • WIM: EARTHSYS 200, EARTHSYS 191, EARTHSYS 177C, EARTHSYS 149, BIOHOPK 47, or another designated WIM course in a related department—must be approved by an advisor. Your WIM course may not also count towards your track or electives, if counted as a WIM.
    (These courses must be taken for a letter grade: EARTHSYS 10, 111, 112, 210 A/B, 210P, WIM)


All track courses and electives must be taken for a letter grade. Six track courses and two electives (eight courses total), and the field experience are required for the Oceans track.

The Fundamentals: (All courses required)

  • EARTHSYS 146A (preferred): Atmosphere, Ocean, and Climate Dynamics: The Atmospheric Circulation

  • EARTHSYS 146B: Atmosphere, Ocean, and Climate Dynamics: The Ocean Circulation
    EARTHSYS 164: Introduction to Physical Oceanography 

  • EARTHSYS 141: Remote Sensing of the Ocean

  • EARTHSYS 151 (preferred): Biological Oceanography

  • EARTHSYS 152: Marine Chemistry
    *(EARTHSYS 151 and 152 should be taken at the same time.)

Human Dimension: (Choose one)

  • BIOHOPK 173H: Marine Conservation Biology

  • ​BIOHOPK 280: Short Course on Ocean Policy

  • CEE 175A: California Coast: Science, Policy, and Law

  • EARTHSYS 243: Environmental Advocacy and Policy Communication

  • LAW 2506: Sustainable Management of Natural Resources– SENIORS only. See Deana (or for enrollment information.

EARTHSYS 164: Introduction to Physical Oceanography *(Not given in 2017.18. Students must take EARTHSYS 146A and EARTHSYS 146B instead.)

Field Experience: (Choose at least one)*

  • 1 quarter at Stanford @ SEA**
  • 1 quarter abroad at BOSP Australia
  • 1 quarter at the Hopkins Marine Station

    *Courses taken during Stanford @ Sea and BOSP Australia cannot be substituted for track requirements but can count toward electives.
    **Stanford @ Sea counts as 1 elective course towards the major. 


TWO additional courses at the 100-level or above are required and must be taken for a letter grade. Electives allow students to personalize their Earth Systems curriculum by pursuing higher-level courses offered in their focus area, or by incorporating new academic perspectives. Each must be a minimum of 3 units. See program staff for listing of possible electives.

Possible Electives:

Marine Geology/Chemistry

  • EARTHSYS 122: Evolution of Marine Ecosystems

  • EARTHSYS 124: Measurements in Earth Systems

  • ESS 249: Marine Stable Isotopes

  • ESS 275: Nitrogen in the Marine Environment

Ocean Physics

  • BIOHOPK 150H: Ecological Mechanics

  • EARTHSYS 164: Introduction to Physical Oceanography *(Not given in 2017.18.)

  • CEE 101B: Mechanics of Fluids

  • CEE 262A: Hydrodynamics

  • CEE 262B: Transport and Mixing in Surface Water Flows (recommended prerequisites CEE 262A and CME 102)

  • CEE 262F: Ocean Waves (required prerequisite CEE 262A)

  • CEE 271M: Transport Phenomena: Momentum, heat and mass transport

Marine Biology/ Ecology

  • BIOHOPK 161H: Invertebrate Zoology

  • BIOHOPK 163H: Principles of Oceanic Biology

  • BioHopk 165H: The Extreme Life of the Sea

  • BIOHOPK 172H: Marine Ecology

  • BIOHOPK 177H: Dynamics and Management of Marine Populations

  • BIOHOPK 179H: Physiological Ecology of Marine Megafauna

  • BIOHOPK 184H: Holistic Biology: Waters of Monterey Bay and Monterey County

  • BIOHOPK 185H: Ecology and Conservation of Kelp Forest Communities

  • ESS 210: Techniques in Environmental Microbiology

  • ESS 244: Marine Ecosystem Modeling

  • ESS 245: Advanced Biological Oceanography

Atmosphere and Climate

  • CEE 63: Weather and Storms

  • ESS 107: Control of Nature

  • ESS 217: Climate of the Cenozoic

  • ESS 219: Climate Variability during the Holocene: Understanding what is Natural Climate Change

Human Dimensions

  • BioHopk 173H: Marine Conservation Biology

  • BIOHOPK 280: Short Course on Ocean Policy

  • CEE 175A: California Coast: Science, Policy, and Law

  • ENVRES 220: The Social Ocean: Ocean Conservation, Management, and Policy

Track Updated 9/2018