Penn StateNASA

Goals and Learning Outcomes



On completing this module, students are expected to be able to:

  • Explain the different components of the marine and terrestrial carbon cycle
  • Recognize that atmospheric CO2 has changed through time and how that variation has impacted climate
  • Interpret how the carbon cycle impacts Earth's climate
  • Project through modeling how the amount and rate of future carbon emission impact climate and the chemistry of the oceans

Learning Outcomes

After completing this module, students should be able to answer the following questions:

  • Why is the global carbon cycle important to climate change?
  • How humans have perturbed the global carbon cycle
  • Changes in values of pCO2 since (1) 1900 and (2) the late 1950’s
  • What is current pCO2 value?
  • The significance of the annual cycle in atmospheric CO2 concentrations
  • Correlation of CO2 concentrations with glacial cycles
  • Generally speaking the volumes of the different carbon reservoirs
  • The role of photosynthesis and CO2 fertilization
  • The role of respiration and permafrost
  • How air sea exchange works
  • Marine carbonate chemistry
  • The biologic pump, upwelling, downwelling and sedimentation and their role in the marine carbon cycle
  • The main types of fossil fuels and their relative contribution to recent CO2 increases
  • The big polluters (countries) in total amount and per capita
  • The volumes of carbon and their trajectories for the different emissions scenarios
  • Role of deforestation and soil erosion in pCO2 changes