NIGB15037U Paleoclimate

Volume 2015/2016
BSc programme in geology-geoscience.

The course deals with Earth’s deep time climate history through the study of climate proxies (sedimentary and geochemical) and dynamics of forcing mechanisms at an introductory level. The course uses a qualitative principle oriented approach with a few simple quantitative treatments and exercises. The course introduces the global energy balance, greenhouse effect, the coupled climate system (atmosphere-ocean circulation and heat transport) and storms, the carbon cycle and cycling of elements in the ocean, role of the biota in climate change, long-term climate regulation, and Milankovitch cycles. The presentation of climate-sensitive proxies and stratigraphic archives will be discussed together with the relations to sea-level variation and geo- and oceanographic chemical principles. Presentation of paleoclimates through time includes examples from Greenhouse and Icehouse paleoclimates, Snowball Earth, mass extinction and Cenozoic climate deterioration. The course couples a dynamic process understanding of the climate system (ocean-atmosphere-cryosphere) with the geobiochemical feedbacks that amplify climate change. Importantly the concept of coupled systems, systems analysis, and feedback loops are used throughout the course. Finally, examples of past climate change are related to present and future climate change.

Learning Outcome


• climate-sensitive proxies and archives
• deep time climate history
• greenhouse effect, energy balance, the coupled climate system (atmosphere-ocean circulation and heat transport), storminess, Milankovitch cycles, carbon cycle
• coupled climate system and geobiochemical feedbacks
• coupled systems and feedback analysis 
• correlation tools and dating methods
• Danish and Scandinavian key localities
• future environmental conditions and climate change


• sedimentological, geochemical, geobiological working methods
• deduce the paleoclimate evolution from paleoclimate proxies and successions
• graphic presentation of geochemical and sedimentological proxies.
• quantitative correlation analysis
• qualitative feedback analyses


• qualitatively explain the first order processes controlling climate, the large scale atmospheric-ocean circulation, sea-level changes and ice sheet development
• explain and use feedback mechanisms between the climate system and geobiochemical cycles
• use sedimentological, geochemical, biological and dating methods in a paleoclimates context and evaluate the usefulness of these methods and tools in different contexts
• deduce the paleoclimate evolution from paleoclimate proxies and successions
• explain how orbital changes may influence the climate development, ocean and atmospheric circulation and how these changes may be amplified by feedbacks

Please see Absalon course page.

Corresponding to the compulsory courses of the 1st year of the BSc Geology-Geoscience programme.
The form of teaching is lectures, theory exercises, and a 5-days excursion. For the teaching plan, please see Absalon.
Students shall pay 100,- DKK per field day for food and lodging. Detailed information about payment can be found on the Absalon course page.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Excursions
  • 60
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 97
  • Theory exercises
  • 21
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 minutes
The students draws an exam question and is examined without any preparation time and without aids.
Without aids
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assesment

Please see learning outcomes