Studying land surface processes... in the wild!
In ESS, graduate students study the science of the Earth as a system. First-year graduate students complete coursework that covers topics including global biogeochemical cycling, geoscience modeling and data analysis, geophysical fluid dynamics, and atmospheric chemistry and physics. This curriculum prepares them to take what they learn in the classroom into the field. For one week at the end of the Winter quarter, this year’s first-year graduate students participated in hands-on, field-based course where they learned about a variety of terrestrial ecosystem processes. The class was set in the scenic Burns Pinyon Reserve located in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree National Park. The group stayed at a natural reserve for the duration of the course while attending a series of lectures from experts in ecological-related fields, including Diane Pataki (lead instructor), Mike Goulden, Claudia Czimczik, and Massimo Lupascu. The main topics covered in the class included carbon fluxes, plant photosynthesis and respiration, water and energy budgets, land nutrient cycling, and climate change impacts on vegetation. Through a combination of lectures, as well as physical observations and measurements that were made in the field, the students learned how these processes work and developed skills at being able to describe them quantitatively. This was the first time this type of field-based course was offered to graduate students in ESS. All who participated considered the experience a success.
“It was great being able to experience first-hand some of the processes we learn about in the classroom occur in the field.”
“It was an invaluable learning experience!”
“The field work class was a truly memorable experience -
I have a much better appreciation for data collection and potential inconsistencies.”
“…Who wouldn’t want to get away from the computer and into the wilderness?”