500 Level

Current offerings of Earth & Environment courses can be found on the course listing of the BU Bulletin.

All courses are 4 credits unless otherwise noted.

GE 501 Advanced Topics in Remote Sensing

Undergraduate Prerequisite: GE 302.

Examines advanced concepts in radiative transfer and information extraction relevant to remote sensing. Emphasis on applications of digital image processing to remote sensing problems.

GE 502 Field Measurements in Remote Sensing

Undergraduate Prerequisite: GE 501 (can be taken concurrently).

The primary objective of this course is to provide students with the skills needed to design and carry out a program of field measurements that calibrate and validate remotely sensed data acquired from aircraft or spacecraft. The emphasis is on remote sensing of vegetation, particularly forests, as they are imaged using incident solar radiation. In the visible and near-infrared wavelengths, forest canopy structure strongly conditions the spectral and angular distribution

GE 503 Micrometeorology: Energy and Mass Transfer at the Earth’s Surface

Undergraduate Prerequisites: GE 310, MA 121, and PY 233 or graduate standing.

Modern theories and techniques for measurement and analysis of physical processes occurring at the Earth’s surface: radiation regimes; energy and mass exchange; agricultural and forest micrometeorology’ remote sensing and modeling of land surface properties and processes.

GE 504 Physical Climatology

Undergraduate Prerequisite: GE 310 or consent of instructor.

Physical factors and processes operating in the earth-atmosphere boundary zone. Solar radiation, expotranspiration, and water balance studies for various natural and cultural environments. Examples include bioclimates of vegetation, air-sea interaction, urban climate, physiologic climatic parameters, and climatic change.

GE 505 Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Undergraduate Prerequisites: GE 365 and CAS MA 213.

Provides a theoretical and practical introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Introduces the essentials in GIS, methods of data capture and sources of data, nature and characteristics of spatial data and objects, data structures, modeling surfaces, volumes and time, and data uncertainty. Emphasis is on applications. Laboratory exercises included.

ES 507 Dynamical Oceanography

Undergraduate Prerequisites: MA 124 or MA 127; and PY 211.

Introduction to the physical ocean system. Physical properties of seawater; essential ocean dynamics; mixing and stirring in the ocean; simple waves; observed current systems and water masses; and coupled atmosphere-ocean variability. Offered as both an ES and GE course. Meets with GE 507.

GE 509 Applied Environmental Statistics

Survey of modern probability-based statistical methods in environmental science. Core concepts in likelihood and Bayesian approaches are used to address spatial, time-series, and latent variable models and non-Gaussian, non-linear, heterogenous, and missing data. Project-based course focused on applications to data.

ES 510 Introduction to the Atmospheric Boundary Layer

Undergraduate Prerequisites: GE 310; two semesters of calculus (MA 123 and 124, or 127, or 129), one semester of statistics (MA 213, or ES 270, or equivalent), one semester of physics (PY 211 or 251); or consent of instructor.

Covers the basic dynamics of the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL), with a focus on the ABL processes and modeling. Introduces statistical descriptions of turbulent flows in the atmosphere and the connection between the ABL and other environment/climate system processes.

GE 514 Dynamic Land Surface Hydrology

Undergraduate Prerequisites: MA 121 or 123 or 127 and one of: CH 101, 111, 131, 161, 171, or PY 105, 211, 233, 251.

Land surface hydrology with emphasis on the unsaturated zone. Development and applications of physics governing transport of water, vapor, and heat in soils and the near surface atmosphere. Effects of vegetation, topography, and water table on runoff, evapotranspiration, and recharge. Meets with ES 514.

GE 516 Multivariate Analysis for Geographers

Undergraduate Prerequisite: MA 214 or equivalent, or consent of instructor.

Applications of multivariate techniques to problems in spatial context, emphasizing interpretation. Review of regression and analysis of variance. Introduction to topics including canonical correlation, factor analysis, discriminant and clustering analyses.

GE 519 Energy, Society, and the Environment

Undergraduate Prerequisite: GE 304 or equivalent.

Focus on applied political economy and the intersection of policy, energy systems, and environmental systems. Project based learning,with an emphasis on energy technology and obstacles to deployment.

ES 520: Modes of Climate Variability

Undergraduate Prerequisite: ES 351 or consent of instructor.

Course assesses dynamics/physical mechanisms that drive major modes of climate variability, including: El Nino-Southern Oscillation, Pacific Decadal Oscillation, Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, Monsoons, and Annular Modes and investigates evolution of modes through time using paleoclimatic evidence and climate model simulations.

GE 521 Environmental Law and Policy

Survey of the major features of environmental law and relevant procedural and constitutional issues. Comparison of practical realities (political, economic, social, geographic, biological) with the ideal context for what should be. Projects include legal research and mock advocacy.

GE 522 Environmental Policy and Decision-Making

In-depth look at environmental policy and decision-making: how society addresses environmental problems. Includes discussion of the environmental movement, law, science, technology, economics, and international relations. Examines new issues facing environmental professionals and approaches to creating a sustainable world.

GE 524 Environmental Justice

Undergraduate Prerequisite: junior standing or consent of instructor.

Exploration of the origins of and current trends in environmental justice activism and scholarship. Introduces empirical evidence of environmental (in)justice, links contemporary environmental problems to historical and broader political-economic processes, and explores a range of responses to environmental injustice.

GE 525 Plant Physiological Ecology

Undergraduate Prerequisite: BI 303 or BI 306 or BI 305, and CH 101, PY 211, or equivalent.

In-depth treatment of eco-physiological responses of plants and communities to environmental factors and climate change, as well as plant and community level impacts on the environment as manifested primarily in hydrologic, energy, and carbon cycles.

GE 529 Modeling and Monitoring Terrestrial Ecosystems Processes

Undergraduate Prerequisites: GE 302; BI 306 or 303 (or equivalents).

Concepts and problems at the interface of ecosystem process modeling and satellite remote sensing; current methods and challenges in modeling terrestrial primary production at regional-to-global scales; capabilities, limitations, and prospects of satellite remote sensing as a tool for collecting biotic and abiotic data in ecosystem process studies.

GE 530 Forest Ecology

Undergraduate Prerequisites: BI 107 and BI 303 or BI 306, or consent of instructor.

The major biotic and abiotic factors influencing forest ecosystem composition, structure and function. Role of solar radiation, hydrology, soils, succession, and management of forest ecosystems. Includes New England case study. Three hours lecture plus discussion. Also meets with BI 530.

GE 533 Risk and Hazards

Undergraduate Prerequisites: BI 107 and MA 213, or consent of instructor.

Topics vary from year to year and may include the policy aspects of environmental regulation, risk assessment and environmental decision-making, international environmental policy, natural resource policy, and energy policy. This course was formerly GE 520 A1.

ES 533 Quantitative Geomorphology

Undergraduate Prerequisites: ES 317 or ES 331 or ES 333, and MA 124.

Quantitative analyses of surface processes that lead to landform evolution and landscape change. Emphasizes study of analytical techniques in understanding specific depositional and erosional processes; models of global landscape change; tectonic and climatic geomorphology.

ES 539 Coral Reef Dynamics: Shallow Waters, Deep Time

Undergraduate Prerequisite: admission to BUMP.

Tropical reefs– diverse, complex, and ancient– exhibit lawful cycles of growth, degradation, and regeneration. Explore these through observations on the Belize Barrier Reef in fossil reef environments and through laboratory experiments. Insights are applied to reef conservation in today’s changing world. Also offered as BI 539.

ES 540 Air Pollution and Global Change

Undergraduate Prerequisites: CH 101; MA 123 (MA 124 recommended); ES/GE 270 or equivalent statistics course.

An introduction to the chemistry and physics of atmospheric pollution, and the impacts of air pollution on human welfare and the environment. Highlights the interactions between air quality, the biosphere, climate, and sustainable development.

ES 543 Estuaries and Nearshore Systems

Undergraduate Prerequisites: ES 331 or ES 440 or ES541, or consent of instructor.

Physical and ecological processes interacting in estuarine and nearshore environments, including salt marshes, beaches, lagoons, deltas, and in wave- and tide-dominated regimes. Lectures complemented by extensive field work oriented toward individual and group research projects.

GE 550 Modeling Environmental and Social Systems

Undergraduate Prerequisites: GE 304, EC 414, or consent of instructor.

Techniques of organizing energy, environmental, or social systems into mathematical computer models. Includes the theory underlying different modeling techniques, programming skills, and a hands-on research project in which students develop their own models.

GE 555 World Oil Markets

Undergraduate Prerequisite: EC 101 or another microeconomics course.

Cover the supply chains in international oil markets. For each stage of the supply chain, Kaufmann will describe the relevant theory from geology, economics, and politics and how they interact to generate real-world behavior.

GE 560 Energy Transitions

Undergraduate Prerequisite: GE 309 (can be taken concurrently).

An energy transition is a change in a society’s dominant energy system. Major energy transitions are accompanied by transformative cultural, economic, demographic, technological, and environmental changes. This course provides the student with the methods, tools and perspectives to understand the important historical, current and future energy transitions. This course is a highly interdisciplinary experience, combining analytic tools and concepts from economics, environmental science, engineering, ecology, history, and political science.

ES 557 Oceanography of Stellwagen Bank and Surrounding Waters

Undergraduate Prerequisites: admission to BUMP, and ES 144 and CH 101 and CH 102 (or CH 171 and CH 172); or consent of instructor.

Nutrient distribution and physical oceanography of Stellwagen Bank and adjacent waters. Bathymetric influences and effects of ocean currents of biogeochemical parameters. Includes day-long cruises on NOAA research vessel.

ES 565 Landscape Evolution: Tectonics, Surface Processes, and Climate

Undergraduate Prerequisites: ES 107, or consent of instructor. ES 305 is also recommended.

An introduction to processes that shape landscapes in areas of active deformation, and the tools used to quantity rates of deformation, erosion, and exhumation. Draws upon techniques and processes from tectonics, geomorphology, sedimentology, geochronology, and GIS.

ES 576 Aquatic Geochemistry

Undergraduate Prerequisites: CH 101 or CH 171 and ES 371, or equivalent; or consent of instructor.

Fundamentals of water chemistry as applied to the evolution of surface, soil, and ground waters. Emphasis is on chemical equilibrium and kinetics, pH as a master variable, carbonate chemistry, mineral solubility, aqueous complexes, ion exchange, redox, and weathering reactions.

GE 578 Marine Geographic Information Science

Undergraduate Prerequisites: BI 260 and ES144); MA 213 strongly recommended.

Introduction to marine geographic information systems and spatial analysis for conservation, management, and marine landscape ecology. Comparative examples from Gulf of Maine and tropics. Solve problems in coastal zoning and marine park design, whale and coral reef conservation. Also offered as BI 578.

GE 585 Ecological Forecasting and Informatics

Undergraduate Prerequisites: BI 303 or BI 306; MA 121 or MA 123; MA 115 or MA 213 or GE 375; or consent of instructor.

The statistics and informatics of model-data fusion and forecasting: data management, workflows, Bayesian statistics, uncertainty analysis, fusing multiple data sources, assessing model performance, scenario development, decision analysis, and data assimilation. Case studies highlight ecological forecasting across a range of subdisciplines.

ES 591 Bio-optical Oceanography

Undergraduate Prerequisite: admission to BUMP.

This field- and lab-based course will explore how the optically active constituents in seawater affect the in-water light field, and in turn, how field optics and remote sensing can facilitate the study of marine biogeochemistry, biological oceanography and water quality.

ES 593 Marine Physiology and Climate Change

Undergraduate Prerequisite: BI 108.

This course explores the range of physiological responses marine organisms exhibit in response to climate change. We will investigate the phenotypic plasticity exhibited across different organisms and how this plasticity can influence an organism’s resilience to its changing environment. Meets with BI 593.

GE 594 Global Environmental Negotiation and Policy

Undergraduate Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.

Key concepts, actors, concerns, and issues related to the process of negotiating global environmental policies. Overview of the international system and environmental problems; an international negotiation simulation; case studies of global agreements on ozone depletion, climate change, desertification, and biodiversity, among others. Meets with IR 594.

GE 597 Sustainable Development in Latin America

Undergraduate Prerequisites: GE 100 or IR 292 or IR 590 and junior standing, or consent of instructor.

Provides an empirically based understanding of the social and environmental aspects of economic development in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) for purposes of analyzing the numerous trade and development policies that nations in LAC are currently considering. Also offered as IR 597.

GE 598 Key Debates and Emerging Research in Land Change Science

Undergraduate Prerequisite: junior standing or consent of instructor.

Topics change each semester. Students may enroll up to four times for credit. Introduces key debates in land change science and new research contributing to these debates. Features speakers from several departments and centers at Boston University as well as visiting scholars. Students develop their own research proposals. 2 credits, can be taken up to four times for credit.

GE 599 Science, Politics, and Climate Change

Applies a science and technology studies perspective to climate change science and policy. Examines the relationships between scientific and political systems at global, national, and local levels. Also offered as IR 599.