A topic on paleoclimate science for an essay

This exercise involves researching a topic on paleoclimate science for an essay. This has several intended aims:

  1. To develop methods of rigorously researching scientific questions independently. One of the most important things that all scientists have to learn is how to inform themselves from the scientific literature (or any literature base). In this exercise, you will be looking up and analysing the scientific literature.
  2. Learning about some paleoclimate topics in greater depth you would otherwise be exposed to. This subject, by its nature, can really only summarize and introduce paleoclimate research. This essay will allow you to have a greater depth of understanding on one topic so that you can appreciate the problems, methods, and uncertainties in paleoclimate studies

Literature Resources
This is a good opportunity to learn how to research a topic from the scientific literature. Books, non-technical review articles and Wikipedia are a good place to start (to get an idea of the general story), but it is expected that most of your research should come from the primary scientific literature. So don’t rely on blogs and so forth, which are generally not documented in enough depth, or scientifically rigorous enough. Wikipedia has generally become quite reliable and has primary sources listed. But you should not reference Wikipedia or base portions of your essay on it, because it is a secondary source. By far the best way to search the scientific literature at the moment is Google Scholar, in combination with Melbourne University’s library of electronic journals. Feel free to ask myself or the demonstrators for assistance. Detailed instructions on how to research and write the essay are listed below.

Possible essay topics (you are also free to come up with your own topics on paleoclimate – just check with me)

Archean Glacial Events and causes

What was the Archean climate and atmosphere like?

Validity of Snowball Earth Glaciations: are they really glacial sediments? – The zipper rift hypothesis

What are Cap Dolomites and how are they formed?

What caused the Snowball Earth Glaciations?

Was it a Snowball or a Slushball Earth?

What causes the dramatic shifts in marine carbon isotopes during the Neoproterozoic glaciations?

Why did iron formations return during Snowball Earth time?

What Caused the Late Carboniferous-Early Permian Glaciations

What caused the Cenozoic Glaciations

How might evolution have controlled climate on the Earth

Did the evolution of landplants have any effect on climate?

Are some mass extinctions related to climate change?

What role can paleobotany play in paleoclimate studies?

How useful are PreQuaternary climate models?

Martian Climatic Evolution

Have extraterrestrial processes been responsible for some climatic events on Earth

How warm was the Cretaceous greenhouse?

What is the evidence for the existence of polar forests during the Mesozoic greenhouse?

What caused the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM)?

Why has the Earth’s climate cooled over the last 60 million years?

What caused the dramatic cooling over the Eocene-Oligocene transition?

What caused the Pleistocene extinction of the megafauna – climate change or humans?

This is not a complete list and any topic that you feel is of interest and falls in the general theme of Earth’s long term climate history would be ok to research. Please get your topic okayed by me first though. You also do not have to stick exactly to the suggested topic above.

ESSAY 1. (1000 word maximum). Guidelines

Word limit
The absolute limit is 1000 words. The limit includes all words, including abstract and references. However, there is no limit to the number of diagrams that you can use. There is no minimum number of words. A brief, concise and informative essay is likely to gain a better mark than a long and verbose essay. There is also no minimum word limit.

Prof. Angela


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