Ecosystems, Climate and Climate Change

Course content

The focus of the course is on the relations between terrestrial ecosystems and global climate systems. Seen in a historical and present perspective as well as on a temporal and spatial scale, the interactions between climate and ecosystem are put in perspective of the ongoing and future climate change. Further, the course explain how models and data bases are used to develop future climate scenarios and reconstruction of previous climate conditions, as well as the anthropogenic role in the present changes in climate.


MSc Programme in Environmental Science
MSc Programme in Geography and Geoinformatics
MSc Programme in Geography and Geoinformatics with a minor subject

Learning outcome


Status of the research in climate changes, models for projection of climate development and the content of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. Natural and anthropogenic forcing of climate. Theories and concepts on ecological climatology, terrestrial ecosystems, the global climate system, climate variations, Milankovitch cycles, greenhouse gasses, annual variations in relation to the regional climate and the effects hereof, the relation of vegetation dynamics and CO2 balance, climate models, climate predictions.


  • Account for the changes in climate in recent times
  • Account for the relations between the climate and the content of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere
  • Account for the relations between the climate, ecosystems and land use in different climate zones
  • Identify and explain the interaction between atmospheric circulation and radiation/energy balance and the relation to the global climate zones.
  • Explain and discuss Global weather phenomes as  El Ninõ and NAO and their influence on the weather in the northern Atlantic and Europe.
  • Identify and explain spatiotemporal variations in permafrost processes and ice cover extent in the north Atlantic – causes and consequences.
  • Identify and explain variation in radiation balance and wind climate at different surface types.
  • Explain and discus photosynthesis, evapotranspiration and energy balance in relation to spatiotemporal variation in the vegetation and land use.
  • Describe and interpret ecosystems and vegetation dynamics – carbon budget, net primary production, biogeography and vegetation modelling.
  • Identify and describe the carbon exchange I relation to agricultural areas and other ecosystems under human influence and the problems caused by deforestation, desertification and change in land use.



  • Ability to communicate knowledge about the climate change problem in a written assignment.
  • Insight in the phenonomen of climate change and ability to destinguish between anthropogic and natural causes.

The form of teaching is theory exercises combined with ad hoc lectures. For the teaching plan, please see Absalon.

Please see learning outcome.

BSc in Geography and Geoinformatics, ecology, physics, biology or equivalent is recommended.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, 7 days
Oral examination, 20 minutes
Type of assessment details
The written assignment is handed out during block week 7 and must be handed in during block week 8. The oral exam is without preperation and uses the written assignment as its point of departure. It includes the titles listed in the officially approved reading list. A combined grade is given after the oral exam.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship

Similar to the ordinary exam, with a different topic for the written assignment. The written assignment is handed out 1 week before the submission date and must be handed in the week before the re-exam week. The oral exam uses the written assignment as its point of departure. It includes the titles listed in the officially approved reading list. A combined grade is given after the oral exam.

Criteria for exam assessment

See learning outcome.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 171
  • Theory exercises
  • 35
  • English
  • 206


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 block

Block 1
The number of seats may be reduced in the late registration period
Study Board of Geosciences and Management
Contracting department
  • Department of Geoscience and Natural Resource Management
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator
  • Thomas Friborg   (3-7c6e7248716f7636737d366c73)

Thomas Friborg og Birger U Hansen

Saved on the 28-02-2023

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