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Climate Change and Landscape Dynamics


Climate Change and Landscape Dynamics

Climate change is listed by the United Nations as “the defining issue of our time” and has reached the point where it impacts every sector of the world, including physical, biological and social systems. Our researchers study the Earth system at a variety of scales in space and time to help understand a) how the climate has changed and will continue to do so, and b) how these changes affect a variety of landscape processes. Focus areas include geomorphology, the study of landscape forms and processes; biogeography, the study of ecosystem change and response; and hydrology/cryogeography, the study of the water cycle and how this affects water availability and vulnerability.

Courses and Degrees

Our introductory course (Earth Environments and Global Change) provides students with a broad background in the relevant processes and issues underlying current global changes. From here, students can take electives allowing them to deepen their understanding of particular disciplines and allow them to specialize. Climate: a sequence of courses cover the climate system, changes to this system and the resulting impacts on the environment and society. Geomorphology: classes cover the formation of landscape processes in arid and montane environments. Biogeography: classes provide expertise on the global patterns of life and how these support and affect society. Cryosphere: students study snow, glaciers, and ice sheet dynamics and avalanche studies. Across these classes are many opportunities for students to study these processes first-hand in the field. Classes in this area can be combined within the Climate Change and Landscape Dynamics undergraduate emphasis for the Geography BS.


Simon Brewer

Associate Professor -- past and present climate change, paleoecology, environmental modeling, data mining and analysis.

Andrea Brunelle

Professor, RED Lab Director -- paleoecology, fire history, climate change.

Richard (Rick) Forster

Professor, CSBS Associate Dean and Director of Snow and Ice Lab -- microwave remote sensing of the cryosphere, application of radar interferometry to studies of glaciers and ground displacement

Kathleen Nicoll

Associate Professor -- geomorphology, stratigraphy, sedimentology, geoarchaeology, arid lands, petroleum geology

Mitchell J. Power

Associate Professor, Curator of the Garrett Herbarium (Utah Museum of Natural History), and Power Paleoecology Lab Director -- vegetation history, historical biogeography, fire, paleoecology and paleoclimatology

Summer B. Rupper

Professor, Director of Graduate Studies. -- glaciology, climate change, modeling glacier mass balance, ice core analysis, glacier geomorphology. 

McKenzie Skiles

Assistant Professor -- Mountain hydrology, snow optics and remote sensing, radiative forcing by light absorbing particles in snow and ice, cryosphere-climate interaction.

Last Updated: 3/26/21