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  3. Past Climates: Icehouse to Greenhouse

Past Climates: Icehouse to Greenhouse (ERTH20003)

Undergraduate level 2Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2017
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 2
Subject codeERTH20003
Semester 2
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject discusses the Earth’s past and present climates, from billion year to hundred year time scales. The subject also deals with the wide range of causes of past climates and of climate change. Climate episodes discussed may include: Precambrian Snowball Earth, Gondwanan Glaciations, the Mesozoic Hothouse, global cooling over the last 20 million years, and the evolution of the Antarctic and the messages in its ice cores. The subject also covers the record of increasing aridity in Australia over the last 5 million years, the regular Ice Ages of the last 2 million years, and climate change over the last few thousand and hundreds of years. Described is the use of ‘proxy’ records, such as tree rings, corals, and pollen, to identify more recent changes in the Australian region.


Intended learning outcomes

At the successful completion of this subject students will have learnt to:

  • describe the drivers of the Earth’s climate over time-scales ranging from days to centuries
  • using these drivers explain why past climates such as ice-ages differ from our present climate
  • describe how palaeoclimate observations are made and explain how they are used in reconstructing the past climate
  • synthesize knowledge from historical records for the Australian region and use it to predict future climate

Generic skills

A Student who successfully completes this course will:

  • demonstrate a high level of achievement in writing and problem-solving
  • apply analytical, quantitative and technical skills to problem solving
  • reflect and critique information as life-long learners
  • demonstrate excellent organisational, planning and time management skills
  • apply knowledge, skills and attitude to adapt to scientific, technological and social changes
  • examine critically, synthesise and evaluate knowledge across a broad range of disciplines

Last updated: 22 June 2017