Measuring Climate Change, Methods in Data Analysis & Scientific Writing

Previously offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2016, and Fall 2018.

Courses cross-listed in the Writing Program are designed to help students build on what they learn as first-year students in the Writing Seminars about the values held in common across disciplines—e.g., articulating a compelling question or problem, making an argument based on evidence and analysis, engaging responsibly with sources—and translate them into the context of more advanced and discipline-specific writing projects. Please note that cross-listed courses do not fulfill the University writing requirement.

Faculty: Adam Maloof, Associate Professor of Geosciences, and Amanda Irwin Wilkins, Director of the Princeton Writing Program

In this course, students will use drone-derived photographs and elevation models of landscapes, georeferenced field observations of the natural world, and data mining of the primary literature in combination with quantitative modeling and interpretation to answer questions like: How have ancient climate changes been preserved in modern landscapes and the rock record? What is the difference between climate and weather? How is climate changing now, and how do we measure it? What impact does climate change have on modern human society, and how have humans affected climate change? How do we quantify the uncertainties on measurements of climate change, and how do we communicate these uncertainties to the public?

In the classroom, on campus field excursions, and on the mandatory nine (9)-day Fall-Break research trip, students will gain practical experience piloting drones, collecting paleoclimatological and climatological data, and analyzing these data using software and programming languages like ArcGIS and Matlab. Through weekly writing and oral presentation workshops, students will learn to communicate their original research effectively within the formal structure of journal-style scientific writing and the LaTeX typesetting language. Students will emerge from this class ready to tackle the demands of junior and senior independent work, including how to use the research and writing process recursively to hone their ideas.

Enrollment in the course is by application only. The course is designed for sophomores with an interest and background in the natural sciences, social sciences, or engineering.