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1. Course title

Global biogeochemical cycles in the Earth System

2. Course code


Aikaisemmat leikkaavat opintojaksot 53341 Ilmastojärjestelmän biogeokemialliset kierrot, 5 op

3. Course status: optional

-Which degree programme is responsible for the course?
Master's Programme in Atmospheric Sciences

-Which module does the course belong to?

optional for

ATM3002 Biogeochemical Cycles, Advanced Studies
ATM3006 Meteorology, Advanced Studies

-Is the course available to students from other degree programmes?

4. Course level (first-, second-, third-cycle/EQF levels 6, 7 and 8)

Master’s level, degree programmes in medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine = secondcycle
degree/EQF level 7
Doctoral level = third-cycle (doctoral) degree/EQF level 8

-Does the course belong to basic, intermediate or advanced studies (cf. Government Decree
on University Degrees)?
Advanced studies

5. Recommended time/stage of studies for completion

-The recommended time for completion may be, e.g., after certain relevant courses have
been completed.

6. Term/teaching period when the course will be offered

This course will be offered in III period in 2020.

7. Scope of the course in credits

5 cr

8. Teacher coordinating the course

Annalea Lohila

9. Course learning outcomes

  • compare the global carbon pools and turnover times before human impact and the effect of human impact on these
  • describe the major features of nitrogen, phosphorus and oxygen cycles in terrestrial biosphere and oceans
  • evaluate the different tools and methods used in studying global biogeochemical cycles, such as sampling the ice cores and ocean sediments, use of isotopes, physical climate observations, flux measurements and precise concentration measurements and employment of inverse modelling and carbon cycle and climate models
  • differentiate between the most important methods for mitigation, geoengineering and negative emissions

10. Course completion methods

  • Course material is provided online (pre-lecture assignments, slides, exercises).
  • Attendance of lectures is recommended, but not mandatory.
  • Pre-lecture assignments, project report, seminar-style presentation, exercises. No final exam.
  • Credit points are given based on the above-mentioned assignments.

11. Prerequisites

Basic knowledge of the physical Earth System and familiarity with elementary mathematics up to differential equations.

12. Recommended optional studies

-What other courses are recommended to be taken in addition to this course?
-Which other courses support the further development of the competence provided by this

13. Course content

An advanced course covering the basic knowledge and analysis techniques for understanding the major global biogeochemical cycles and how they interact in the Earth System: The cycle of carbon, methane, nitrogen, oxygen and phosphorus. Topics include: 

1 Introduction and overview, 
2 ocean carbon cycle, 
3 terrestrial carbon cycle, 
4 global carbon cycle modelling, 
5 carbon isotopes (13C and 14C), 
6 oxygen and oxygen isotopes, 
7 quantification of global and regional budgets, 
8 methane, 
9 nitrogen, 
10 phosphorus, 
11 paleo carbon and methane cycles, 
12 couplings between climate and biogeochemical cycles.

14. Recommended and required literature


  • Schlesinger: Biogeochemistry - An analysis of global change, Elsevier Academic Press, 1997, ISBN: 978-0-12-625155-5, 588pp.
  • Jacobson, Charlson, Rhode and Orians: Earth System Science, Elsevier Academic Press, International Geophysics Series vol. 72, 2000, ISBN: 978-0-12-379370-6, 527pp.
  • Archer:The global carbon cycle. Princeton University Press, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-691-14414-6, 205pp.
  • Field & Raupach: The global carbon cycle – integrating humans, climate and the natural world.
  • IPCC 5th Assessment report, 2013, WGI The Physical Science Basis, Chapter 6 (Carbon and other biogeochemical cycles).

15. Activities and teaching methods in support of learning

-See the competence map (
-Student activities
-Description of how the teacher’s activities are documented

16. Assessment practices and criteria, grading scale

-See the competence map (
-The assessment practices used are directly linked to the learning outcomes and teaching
methods of the course.

17. Teaching language


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