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Environmental Science and Engineering

ESE 1. Earth’s Climate. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. An introduction to the coupling between atmospheric composition and climate on Earth. How Earth’s climate has changed in the past and its evolving response to the rapid increase in carbon dioxide and methane happening today. Model projections of future climate and associated risks. Development of climate policies in face of uncertainty in these projections and risks. Enrollment is limited. Satisfies the menu requirement of the Caltech core curriculum. Instructor: Wennberg. 

ESE 90. Undergraduate Laboratory Research in Environmental Science and Engineering. Units by arrangement; any term. Approval of research supervisor required prior to registration. Independent research on current environmental problems; laboratory or field work is required. A written report is required for each term of registration. Graded pass/fail. Instructor: Staff. 

ESE 100. Special Problems in Environmental Science and Engineering. Up to 12 units by arrangement; any term. Prerequisites: instructor’s permission. Special courses of readings or laboratory instruction. Graded pass/fail. Instructor: Staff. 

ESE 101. Earth’s Atmosphere. 9 units (3-0-6); first term. Composition of the atmosphere. Radiative transfer and the greenhouse effect. Scattering and absorption by gases, clouds, and aerosols. Feedbacks due to water vapor, clouds, ice, and vegetation. Transports of energy and momentum and their effects on the surface climate. Chemical reactions in the atmosphere affecting atmospheric ozone and air quality. Instructor: Schneider.

ESE 102. Earth’s Oceans. 9 units (3-0-6); first term. This course will provide a basic introduction to physical, chemical and biological properties of Earth’s ocean. Topics to be covered include: oceanographic observational and numerical methods as well as the phenomenology and distribution of temperature, salinity, and tracers. Fundamentals of ocean dynamics, such as Ekman layers, wind-driven gyres, and overturning circulations. Ocean biology and chemistry: simple plankton population models, Redfield ratios, air-sea gas exchange, productivity and respiration, carbon cycle basics. Changes in ocean circulation over Earth’s history and its impact on past climate changes. Instructor: Thompson.

ESE 103. Earth’s Biogeochemical Cycles. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. Global cycles of carbon, nitrogen and sulfur. Photosynthesis, respiration and net primary production. Soil formation, erosion, and carbon storage. Ecosystem processes, metrics, and function. Nutrient supply and limitation. Microbial processes underlying weathering, decomposition, and carbon remineralization. Stable isotope tracers in the carbon and hydrologic cycles. The human footprint on the Earth. Instructor: Frankenberg.

ESE 104. Current Problems in Environmental Science and Engineering. 1 unit; first term. Discussion of current research by ESE graduate students, faculty, and staff. Instructor: Thompson.

Bi/Ge/ESE 105. Evolution. 12 units (3-4-5); second term. For course description, see Biology.

ESE 106. Research in Environmental Science and Engineering. Units by arrangement; any term. Prerequisites: instructor’s permission. Exploratory research for first-year graduate students and qualified undergraduates. Graded pass/fail. Instructors: Staff.

ESE 110 abc. Seminar in Environmental Science and Engineering. 1 unit; first, second, third terms. Seminar on current developments and research in environmental science and engineering. Graded pass/fail. Instructor: Frankenberg.

Ge/ESE 118. Methods in Data Analysis. 9 units (3-0-6); first term. Prerequisites: Ma 1 or equivalent. For course description, see Geology.

ESE 130. Atmosphere Dynamics. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. Prerequisites: ESE 101 or instructor’s permission. Introduction to geophysical fluid dynamics of large-scale flows in the atmosphere. Governing equations and approximations that describe these rotation and stratification dominated flows. Topics include: conservation laws, equations of state, geostrophic and thermal wind balance, vorticity and potential vorticity dynamics, shallow water dynamics, atmospheric waves. Instructor: Bordoni.

ESE 131. Physical Oceanography. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. This course gives an introduction to the fluid dynamics of the world ocean.Starting from the equations of motion, approximate models are formulated to understand the observed circulation and how the ocean might respond to different forcing conditions in past and future climates. Topics include Ekman boundary layers, wind-driven gyres, thermocline theory, baroclinic instability of mean currents, mesoscale eddies, dynamics of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, tides, inertia-gravity waves, small-scale mixing, the circulation of the deep ocean, and meridional overturning. Instructor: Callies. 

ESE 132. Tropical Atmosphere Dynamics. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. Prerequisite: ESE 130 or instructor’s permission. Phenomenological description of tropical atmospheric circulations at different scales, and theories or models that capture the underlying fundamental dynamics, starting from the large-scale energy balance and moving down to cumulus convection and hurricanes. Topics to be addressed include: large-scale circulations such as the Hadley, Walker, and monsoonal circulations, the intertropical convergence zone, equatorial waves, convectively coupled waves, and hurricanes. Instructor: Bordoni.

ESE 133. Global Atmospheric Circulations. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. Prerequisites: ESE 130 or instructor’s permission. Introduction to the global-scale fluid dynamics of atmospheres, beginning with a phenomenological overview of observed circulations on Earth and other planets and leading to currently unsolved problems. Topics include constraints on atmospheric circulations and zonal winds from angular momentum balance; Rossby wave generation, propagation, and dissipation and their roles in the maintenance of global circulations; Hadley circulations and tropical-extratropical interactions; energy cycle and thermodynamic efficiency of atmospheric circulations. The course focuses on Earth’s atmosphere but explores a continuum of possible planetary circulations and relationships among them as parameters such as the planetary rotation rate chance. Instructor: Schneider. Not offered 2017–18.

ESE 134. Cloud and Boundary Layer Dynamics. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. Prerequisites: ESE 130 or instructor’s permission. Introduction to the dynamics controlling boundary layers and clouds and how they may change with climate, from a phenomenological overview of cloud and boundary layer morphologies to closure theories for turbulence and convection. Topics include similarity theories for boundary layers; mixed-layer models; moist thermodynamics and stability; stratocumulus and trade-cumulus boundary layers; shallow cumulus convection and deep convection. Instructor: Schneider. 

ESE 135. Topics in Atmosphere and Ocean Dynamics. 6 units (2-0-4); first term. Prerequisites: ESE 101/102 or equivalent. A lecture and discussion course on current research in atmosphere and ocean dynamics. Topics covered vary from year to year and may include global circulations of planetary atmospheres, geostrophic turbulence, atmospheric convection and cloud dynamics, wave dynamics and large-scale circulations in the tropics, marine physical-biogeochemical interactions, and dynamics of El Niño and the Southern Oscillation. Instructor: Bordoni. Not offered 2017–18. 

ESE 137. Polar Oceanography. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. Prerequisites: ESE 131 or instructor’s permission. This course focuses on high latitude processes related to the the Earth’s oceans and their interaction with the cryosphere, including glaciers, ice shelves and sea ice. The course starts with introductory lectures related to regional circulation features, water mass modification and ice dynamics. A single topic will be selected to explore in detail through the scientific literature and through individual projects. Instructor: Thompson. Given in alternate years; not offered 2017–18. 

ESE 138. Ocean Turbulence and Wave Dynamics. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. Prerequisite: ESE 131 or instructor’s permission. Introduction to the dynamics of ocean mixing and transport with a focus on how these processes feed back on large-scale ocean circulation and climate. Topics include: vorticity and potential vorticity dynamics, planetary and topographic Rossby waves, inertia-gravity waves, mesoscale eddies, turbulent transport of tracers, eddy diffusivity in turbulent flows, frontogenesis and submesoscale dynamics, diapycnal mixing. This course will also include a discussion of observational techniques for measuring mesoscale and small-scale processes in the ocean. Not offered 2017–18.

Ge/ESE 139. Introduction to Atmospheric Radiation. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. For course description in Geological and Planetary Sciences.

Ge/ESE 140 c. Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry. 9 units (3-0-6).  For course description, see Geological and Planetary Sciences.

ESE/Ge 142. Aquatic Chemistry of Natural Waters. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. Prerequisites: Ch 1 or instructor’s permission. Inorganic chemistry of natural waters with an emphasis on equilibrium solutions to problems in rivers, lakes, and the ocean. Topics will include, acid-base chemistry, precipitation, complexation, redox reactions, and surface chemistry. Examples will largely be drawn from geochemistry and geobiology. Selected topics in kinetics will be covered based on interest and time. Instructor: Adkins.

Ge/ESE 143. Organic Geochemistry. 9 units (3-2-4). For course description, see Geological and Planetary Sciences.

Ge/ESE 149. Marine Geochemistry. 9 units (3-0-6). For course description, see Geological and Planetary Sciences.

Ge/ESE 150. Planetary Atmospheres. 9 units (3-0-6). For course description, see Geological and Planetary Sciences.

Ge/ESE 154. Readings in Paleoclimate. 3 units (1-0-2). For course description, see Geological and Planetary Sciences. 

Ge/ESE 155. Paleoceanography. 9 units (3-0-6). For course description, see Geological and Planetary Sciences. 

ESE 156. Remote Sensing of the Atmosphere and Biosphere. 6 units (2-0-4); third term. General use of absorption spectroscopy to retrieve trace gases abundances as well as vegetation parameters from different platforms (ground-based, air-borne, satellites). Topics: Absorption spectroscopy, measurement and modeling techniques, inversion theory and error characterization, applications in global studies of biogeochemical cycles and air pollution/quality. This course is complementary to EE 157ab and EE 157c with stronger emphasis on applications for the atmosphere and biosphere. Students will work with real and synthetic remote sensing data (basic knowledge of Matlab/Python advantageous). Instructor: Frankenberg. Not offered 2017–18. 

Ge/EE/ESE 157 c. Remote Sensing for Environmental and Geological Applications. 9 units (3-3-3). For course description, see Geological and Planetary Sciences.

ESE/ChE 158. Aerosol Physics and Chemistry. 9 units (3-0-6); third term; Open to graduate students and seniors with instructor’s permission. Fundamentals of aerosol physics and chemistry; aerodynamics and diffusion of aerosol particles; condensation and evaporation; thermodynamics of particulate systems; nucleation; coagulation; particle size distributions; optics of small particles. Given in alternate years; Instructor: Seinfeld. Not offered 2017–18. 

ESE/Bi 166. Microbial Physiology. 9 units (3-1-5); first term. Recommended prerequisite: one year of general biology. A course on growth and functions in the prokaryotic cell. Topics covered: growth, transport of small molecules, protein excretion, membrane bioenergetics, energy metabolism, motility, chemotaxis, global regulators, and metabolic integration. Instructor: Leadbetter. 

ESE/Bi 168. Microbial Metabolic Diversity. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. Prerequisites: ESE 142, ESE/Bi 166. A course on the metabolic diversity of microorganisms. Basic thermodynamic principles governing energy conservation will be discussed, with emphasis placed on photosynthesis and respiration. Students will be exposed to genetic, genomic, and biochemical techniques that can be used to elucidate the mechanisms of cellular electron transfer underlying these metabolisms. Instructor: Newman. Given in alternate years; not offered 2017–18.

Ge/ESE 170. Microbial Ecology. 9 units (3-2-4); third term. For course description, see Geological and Planetary Sciences.

ESE/Ge/Ch 171. Atmospheric Chemistry I. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. Prerequisite: Ch 1 or equivalent. A detailed course about chemical transformation in Earth’s atmosphere. Kinetics, spectroscopy, and thermodynamics of gas-phase chemistry of the stratosphere and troposphere; sources, sinks, and lifetimes of trace atmospheric species; stratospheric ozone chemistry; oxidation mechanisms in the troposphere. Instructors: Seinfeld, Wennberg.

ESE/Ge/Ch 172. Atmospheric Chemistry II. 3 units (3-0-0); first term. Prerequisite: ESE/Ge/Ch 171 or equivalent. A lecture and discussion course about active research in atmospheric chemistry. Potential topics include halogen chemistry of the stratosphere and troposphere; aerosol formation in remote environments; coupling of dynamics and photochemistry; development and use of modern remote-sensing and in situ instrumentation. Graded pass/fail. Not offered 2017–18.

ESE/Ch 175. Physical Chemistry of Engineered Waters. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. Prerequisites: Ch 1 or instructor’s permission. This course will cover selected aspects of the chemistry of engineered water systems and related water treatment processes. Lectures cover basic principles of physical-organic and physical-inorganic chemistry relevant to the aquatic environment under realistic conditions. Specific topics include acid-base chemistry, metal-ligand chemistry, redox reactions, photochemical transformations, biochemical transformations, heterogeneous surface reactions, catalysis, and gas-transfer dynamics. The primary emphasis during the winter term course will be on the physical chemistry of engineered waters.  Instructor: Hoffmann. 

ESE/Ch 176. Physical Organic Chemistry of Natural Waters. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. This course will cover selected aspects of the chemistry of natural and engineered aquatic systems. Lectures cover basic principles of physical-organic and physical-inorganic chemistry relevant to the aquatic environment under realistic conditions. Specific topics that are covered include the principles of equilibrium chemistry in natural water, acid-base chemistry of inorganic and organic acids including aquated carbon dioxide, metal-ligand chemistry, ligand substitution kinetics, kinetics and mechanisms of organic and inorganic redox reactions, photochemical transformations of chemical compounds, biochemical transformations of chemical compounds in water and sediments, heterogeneous surface reactions and catalysis. Thermodynamic, transport, kinetics and reaction mechanisms are emphasized. The primary emphasis during the spring term course will be on the organic chemistry of natural waters emphasizing the fate and behavior of organic compounds and persistent organic pollutants in the global environment. Instructor: Hoffmann.

ESE 200. Advanced Topics in Environmental Science and Engineering. Units by arrangement; any term. Course on contemporary topics in environmental science and engineering. Topics covered vary from year to year, depending on the interests of the students and staff.

Ge/Bi/ESE 246. Molecular Geobiology Seminar. 6 units (2-0-4). For course description, see Geological and Planetary Sciences. 

ESE 300. Thesis Research. 

For other closely related courses, see listings under Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Biology, Geological and Planetary Sciences, Economics, and Social Science.