Geog 410

Modeling of Environmental Systems

Course Description: The environment is a dynamic and living system in which the interactions of numerous biological, biophysical and biogeochemical processes determine the rate and the direction of change. A comprehensive understanding of the past and current status of the environment and prediction for its status in the future cannot be achieved without the help of computer-based models. On the one hand, computer-based models can integrate natural history, physiological, and ecological information that has been gathered over many years by many people; on the other hand, computer-based models can simulate the environment in various hypothetical conditions (e.g. a common hypothetical condition in global climate change is doubling the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere). Geog 410 takes a system’s view of the environment, and introduces the fundamental concepts and approaches in modeling of environmental systems. Essentially all environmental processes are driven by energy associated with flow of matter (e.g. water and nutrients). The course will be focused on modeling the dynamics of energy and matter flow through the environment. Throughout the course, we will use the Matlab as the tool to assist us to model the environmental systems. The course is composed of three components: instructor lectures, hands-on experiences using Matlab to model the environmental systems and in class discussions. The objectives of the course include: (1) understanding of the fundamental principles how environmental systems work, (2) be capable of systems thinking, and (3) proficient use of Matlab in solving problems of similar nature, and making Matlab be one of your primary computing tools beyond the class.