EM SC 100S First Year Seminar

EMS First Year Seminar: Climate Change and Potential Societal Impacts (EM SC 100S) Instructor: Dr. Michael Mann, TA: Casey Luddy, Meeting Time/Place: T R 10:35 – 11:50 AM (10 DEIKE)

Instructor: Michael E. Mann, Department of Meteorology, 514 Walker Building, mann@psu.edu

Teaching Assistant: Casey Luddy, csl5192@psu.edu 

Meeting Time/Place: T R 10:35 – 11:50 AM (10 DEIKE)

Office Hours: You are welcome to visit my office for questions during scheduled office hours (Wed, 1-2:15 PM), or by appointment. You may also email for questions (please use "mann@psu.edu"). Responses may be delayed.


How certain are we that human activity is altering Earth's climate? How much more warming might we expect over the next century? What will the impacts be on severe weather events such as hurricanes, tornados, floods and drought? How might climate change impact water availability in arid and semi-arid regions already stressed for water resources? What is the threat to coastal regions? How might climate change impact natural ecosystems? Are there winners and losers? This course will explore the scientific evidence underlying each of these questions, reviewing the most recent international assessments of the science.


We will regularly draw upon the course homepage as a resource for the course:


Aside from links to the course syllabus, there will be links to the readings, slides from the lectures, and other course-related materials.


Attendance of all lectures is expected. You are strongly encouraged to ask questions and participate constructively in class. Copies of slides from the lectures will usually be made available electronically through the course website (see above) the morning prior to the lecture. The assignments given for a particular class meeting are due before that class begins (i.e. at the beginning of that class meeting).


The course textbook is: "Dire Predictions: Understanding Climate Change" (2nd edition) by Mann and Kump. It is available in the Penn State bookstore.

In addition, you are expected to read various other selected materials provided through the course webpage. The readings should be completed in advance of our covering the material in class. Readings for each week will typically be posted on the course website by the end of the previous week.

You are welcome (and indeed encouraged) to make use of supplementary sources of information that you may find. You should be sure, however, to assess the reliability of any supplementary sources used in assignments, with respect to the qualifications and expertise of the source, and any biases or conflicts of interest that may compromise its objectivity.

Course Requirements and Grades

Students will be expected to complete homework assignments based on the readings, in advance of our covering the material in class (assignments will be collected at the end of class). Students will take turns leading discussions over the course of the term, and will prepare and present to the class at the end of the semester a multimedia presentation on a topic to be determined (projects will be selected in consultation with the instructor mid-way through the term).

Course Schedule (subject to change)


  1. T Aug 23 Introduction
  2. R Aug 25 Introduction (cont);
  3. T Aug 30 Greenhouse Gases on the Rise
  4. R Sep 1 The Greenhouse Effect
  5. T Sep 6 Observations of Modern Climate Change
  6. R Sep 8 Observations of Modern Climate Change (cont)
  7. T Sep 13 A Tempest in a Greenhouse: Have Hurricanes Become More Frequent or Intense?
  8. R Sep 15 “The Power of the Story in Science” w/ EMS writer-in-residence Kimberly Del Bright
  9. T Sep 20 Humans vs. Nature
  10. R Sep 22 Internet/Web Workshop w/ EMS info. tech. expert Tim Robinson (9 Sparks Building)
  11. T Sep 27 The Paleoclimate Perspective
  12. R Sep 29 Guest Lecture, Professor Greg Jenkins “Examining the multiple dimensions of climate change in West Africa”
  13. T Oct 4 Study/Work Smarter - Libraries can help + introducing world of research! w/ EMS head librarian Linda Musser
  14. R Oct 6 Online Publishing Workshop w/ EMS info. tech. expert Tim Robinson (69 Willard Building)
  16. R Oct 13 The Day After Tomorrow: A Possible Scenario?
  17. T Oct 18 The Day After Tomorrow: A Possible Scenario? (cont)
  18. R Oct 20 “The Danger of the Single Story” w/ EMS writer-in-residence Kimberly Del Bright
  19. T Oct 25 Climate Modeling; Can't We Explain Climate Trends by Natural Factors Alone?
  20. R Oct 27 Media (iMovie) Workshop w/ Kristen McAuley (Pattee W140)
  21. T Nov 1 How Sensitive is the Climate?
  22. R Nov 3 Projections of Future Climate Change: Emissions Scenarios
  23. T Nov 8 Projections of Future Climate Change: Surface Warming; Rainfall and Drought
  24. R Nov 10 Projections of Future Climate Change: Melting Ice, Rising Sea Level, Extreme Weather
  25. T Nov 15 Media (iMovie) Follow-up Workshop w/ Kristen McAuley (Pattee W140)
  26. R Nov 17 The science in An Inconvenient Truth
  27. T Nov 22 No Class [Thanksgiving break]
  28. R Nov 24 No Class [Thanksgiving break]
  29. T Nov 29 The science in An Inconvenient Truth (cont)
  30. R Dec 1 Impacts/Adaptations /Vulnerability/Solutions [student presentations]
  31. T Dec 6 Impacts/Adaptations /Vulnerability/Solutions [student presentations]
  32. R Dec 8 Impacts/Adaptations /Vulnerability/Solutions [student presentations]