Biogeochemical Cycles

Students will be introduced to key biogeochemical processes that have a major impact on the lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere during this module. They will learn how biogeochemistry has shaped the Earth's environment.

The importance of biogeochemical processes will be demonstrated through a consideration of their relevance to the environmental discipline of Earth System Science. The processes will be illustrated using examples of biogeochemical cycles of various elements, on various spatial scales, including carbon. How anthropogenic perturbations have dramatically influenced the biogeochemical cycles of different elements will also be discussed.

The concept of breaking the environment down into different reservoirs or compartments with simple box-modelling concepts will be introduced to students. In addition, the interesting concepts of chemistry shaping biology and biology shaping chemistry allowing Earth's evolution will be explored along with the Gaia Hypothesis concept. On a practical note, students will develop their report writing and various numerical and quantitative laboratory skills.

Students will also undertake a number of basic procedures in a chemical laboratory, including preparing solutions, measuring pH and using bench-top instruments. Further to this, they will write scientific reports, based on laboratory experiments to simulate environmental weathering processes, involving numerical manipulation of the resulting data; and will learn to interpret chemical equations.