Courses in Environmental Science

A ENV 105 Introduction to Environmental Science (3)
Survey of contemporary environmental issues related to health and disease, nuclear waste disposal, water resources, energy use and conservation, land reclamation, global climate change, and industrial pollution. Scientific principles and data needed for gaining an understanding of environmental challenges on local, regional, and global scales will be emphasized. Offered spring semester only.

A ENV 106 Introduction to Environmental Science Laboratory (1)
This course is a lab that supplements A ENV 105 - Introduction to Environmental Science, and is available for Environmental Science majors only. The course, which is designed to be taken concurrently with A ENV 105, provides students an opportunity to investigate concepts covered in A ENV 105 in greater depth. Topics addressed will include ecosystems and biogeochemical cycles, environmental history, population dynamics, biodiversity, water resources, land use and pollution, global climate change, energy use and conservation, and environmental health and toxicology. Corequisite: A ENV 105. Open only to Environmental Science majors. Offered spring semester only.

A ENV 221 Understanding the Earth (3)
Provides an introduction to geology, with an emphasis on the solid Earth.  Topics include the evolution of the solar system and the early Earth; structure of the Earth; plate tectonics and seismic processes; the chemical composition, structure, and physical properties of rock-forming minerals; formation of rocks through igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic processes; geologic age determination and geologic time.  The interaction between the solid Earth and other components of the Earth system will be stressed. Prerequisite(s): A CHM 120 or 130 or T CHM 130; or permission of instructor. Offered fall semester only.

A ENV 250 Sustainable Development: Energy and Resources (3)
Examination of energy production using non-renewable (coal, oil, natural gas, uranium) versus renewable resources (hydroelectric, solar, wind, geothermal) relative to present and future environmental and societal impacts. A transition to a more sustainable renewable energy infrastructure presents challenges and opportunities that will be examined in this course. In addition to the traditional energy resources, the course covers the sustainability of other mineral resources that may be important in this transition. Prerequisite(s): A CHM 120 or A CHM 130 or T CHM 130; A MAT 111 or A MAT 112 or T MAT 118; A PHY 140 or T PHY 141. Offered spring semester only.

A ENV 302 Ocean Science (3)
An introduction to ocean science, and the role of the oceans in physical, climatic, chemical, and biological aspects of the Earth system. Description of the properties, dynamics, thermodynamics, and processes of oceans that contribute to the formation of ocean circulations, eddies and waves, the transport of heat and freshwater, and the regulation of weather, climate and marine ecosystems. Topics include interdisciplinary aspects of the oceans, such as El Nino, global warming, the carbon cycle, and energy. Primarily lecture format, but short presentations by students are required. Prerequisite(s): A ATM 210; A CHM 120 or 130 or T 130; A MAT 111 or 112 or 118; A PHY 140 or T PHY 141. Offered fall semester only.

A ENV 315 (= A ATM 315) Environmental Statistics and Computation (4)
This course builds an understanding of natural systems through an introduction to statistical and computational methods used to analyze atmospheric and environmental data. Key goals of the course are to become proficient at drawing conclusions about the behaviors of natural systems using common visualizing methods and statistically analyzing data from observations and dynamical models in a variety of Earth-systems applications. Includes a concise but comprehensive introduction to computation and programming methods suited for students with no background in computer coding via the general-purpose programming language Python. Only one version of A ATM/A ENV 315 may be taken for credit. Prerequisite(s): A ATM 210, A MAT 111 or 112 or T MAT 118; A MAT 220 recommended. Offered spring semester only.

A ENV 327 (= A ATM 327) Meteorological and Environmental Measurement (3)
Basic exposition of principles involved in the measurement of primary meteorological and environmental parameters. Topics to be covered include measurement uncertainty and the propagation of errors. Instruments for measuring temperature, pressure, humidity, wind field, solar and terrestrial radiation, precipitation, atmospheric aerosols, soil moisture, water quality, and data logging will be examined. Two lectures and one laboratory or demonstration per week. Only one version of A ENV 327 may be taken for credit. Prerequisite(s): A ATM 210; A MAT 111 or 112 or T MAT 118; A PHY 140 or 141 or T PHY 141. Next offered Spring 2021.

A ENV 350Y Environmental Geochemistry (4)
Contemporary topics are used to develop concepts of geochemical processes operating in Earth’s environmental system. These topics (a) PCBs in the Upper Hudson River, (b) biogeochemical cycles in the global climate system, and (c) geochemical constraints on long-term disposal of high-level, nuclear wastes. 3 hours per week in classroom setting and one hour per week of oral presentations by students. Only one version of A ENV 350Y may be taken for credit. Prerequisite(s): A ENV 250. May not be offered in 2020-2021. 

A ENV 365 Environmental Science Fieldwork Experience (1)
Students will participate in "hands on" fieldwork at one of the department's local environmental science partners (Albany Pine Bush Preserve, the Huyck Preserve and Biological Research Station, the Hollyhock Hollow Sanctuary of Audubon International, or others), depending upon availability. A minimum of 15 hours will be spent in the field carrying out directed activities under supervision of the host institution's staff. Most fieldwork activity will originate from ongoing projects at the host entity, but student initiated projects can be proposed. These should be submitted in consultation with the department course coordinators. The specific nature of the fieldwork undertaken by the student is at the discretion of the host institution. A written final report and oral presentation is required that should summarize the overall fieldwork experience, and, if relevant, the measurements, observations, analysis, and significance of the work. Students are also required to spend time working with department faculty members on developing presentation skills; dates and times for the fieldwork and presentation practice will be arranged on an individual basis. May not be repeated for credit and open only to environmental science majors. Prerequisite(s): A BIO 330; corequisite(s): A ATM/A ENV 315 or 327. S/U graded. Offered each summer and fall.

A ENV 404 The Adirondack Environment (3)
An interdisciplinary survey of environmental science topics using New York's Adirondack Mountains as an example. Topics range from aspects of the natural environment to human-environment interactions. Specific topics include: regional geology and geomorphology, impacts of acid rain and air quality regulation, forestry and mining practices, ecosystem changes and management, environmental conservation of the Adirondack park, impacts of climate change. Prerequisite(s): A ENV/A GEO 221 and A ATM 210 or permission of the instructor. Will next be offered Spring 2021.

A ENV 415 (= A ATM 415) Climate Laboratory (3)
A hands-on course in climate modeling; students will gain an appreciation for what climate models are, their limitations, and how they can be used to study natural phenomena. Topics include the physical laws governing climate and climate change, the hierarchy of model complexity, parameterization versus simulation, using models for prediction versus understanding, application of simple climate models to past and future climates on Earth (including radically different climates of the past such as Snowball Earth), accessing and analyzing results from IPCC models. Students will gain significant computer experience making calculations, analyzing results, and interpreting their significance. Prerequisite(s): A ATM 210, A ATM 315 or A ENV 315 or permission of instructor for students with computer programming experience; A MAT 111 or 112 or T MAT 118. Offered alternate spring semesters, will next be offered spring 2022.

A ENV 450 Paleoclimatology (3)
Introduction to the field of Paleoclimatology. Focus will be on the use of sediments and other biological and geological archives to reconstruct environmental, climatic, and oceanographic change over a range of time scales. Lecture will also provide an introduction to the fields of climatology, age dating techniques, climatic environmental proxies (tracers), micropaleontology, and time-series analysis. In addition to lectures, the class will involve review of current scientific studies, class presentations by each student, and a review paper on a relevant topic of choice. Three lectures each week and 2 hours each week of oral presentations by students. Only one version of A ENV 450 may be taken for credit. Prerequisite(s): A CHM 120 or A CHM 130 or T CHM 130 or permission of instructor. Offered alternate fall semesters. Will next be offered fall 2021.

A ENV 455 Special Topics in Environmental or Geological Science (2-3)
A structured program of reading and seminars leading to an in-depth understanding of a chosen topic in environmental or geological science. May be repeated once for credit. Prerequisite(s): A ATM 210, A GEO 221, and permission of instructor. May not be offered in 2020-2021.

A ENV 480 Special Topics in Environmental Science (1-4)
In-depth analysis of a special topic in environmental science. May be repeated if topic changes. Prerequisite(s): permission of instructor.

A ENV 490 Major Topics in Environmental Science (3)
A required course for environmental science majors in their senior year that brings together students from all four concentrations (Ecosystems, Geography, Climate Change, and Sustainability Science and Policy) to address major topics in environmental science. Formal presentations by faculty, students, and invited speakers will promote discussion and debate from multi-disciplinary perspectives. Prerequisite(s): A ATM 210, A ATM 315 or A ENV 315. Offered spring semester only.

A ENV 496 Environmental Internships (1-3)
Provides students with practical work experience in environmental science through placements with federal, state, or local government agencies, or private firms. The supervisor’s reference, a mid-internship and a final report are required. Internships are open to qualified juniors and seniors with a GPA of at least 2.50 overall and in the Environmental Science major. A maximum of 3 credits may be applied toward the major. May be repeated once for credit. Prerequisite(s): permission of department internship coordinator. S/U graded.

A ENV 497 Independent Study (1-3)
Field or laboratory investigation of a chosen environmental or geological problem, including the writing of a research report to be undertaken during the senior year. May be repeated once for credit. Prerequisite(s): permission of instructor. Offered fall or spring semesters.

A ENV 498 Undergraduate Research in Environmental Science (3)
Guided research leading to a written thesis. Oral presentation of results required. May be repeated once for credit. Prerequisite(s): junior or senior standing and permission of department chair. Offered fall or spring semesters. S/U graded.