Spring 2021 - GEOG 316 D100

Global Biogeochemical and Water Cycles (4)

Class Number: 2781

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    We, Fr 9:30 AM – 10:20 AM

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 28, 2021
    3:30 PM – 6:30 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    GEOG 215 or BISC 204 or permission of the instructor.



Introduction to the cycling of essential chemical elements through ecosystems. Interactions among biological, hydrological, and geological controls on the structure and function of ecosystems and the spatial-temporal scales of elemental cycling are emphasized. Environmental problems resulting from disturbance to natural equilibria in the elemental cycles are examined. Quantitative.


Introduction to the cycling of essential chemical elements through ecosystems and to the global biogeochemical and water cycles.  Interactions among biological, hydrological, and geological controls on the structure and function of the planetary ecosystem and the spatial-temporal scales of elemental cycling, particularly the global carbon cycle, are emphasized.  Environmental problems resulting from human disturbances to the elemental cycles, such as planetary warming, and the biogeochemical underpinnings of global change are examined.

Organization:  Lectures and labs will be conducted asynchronously by remote delivery, along with two one-hour time slots per week (Wed & Fri from 9:30-10:20) scheduled for live discussion of course material as needed. For questions regarding scheduling conflicts, please contact Lance Lesack at llesack@sfu.ca.

There will be no laboratory session in the first week of classes.

Course Topics:

Introduction to the biogeochemical cycles & nutrient cycling            
Planetary origins & geology            
Global water and energy cycles            
Weathering of the lithosphere            
Primary production in the biosphere            
Processes in terrestrial ecosystems            
Rivers:  linkage between terrestrial & aquatic ecosystems            
Processes in lacustrine ecosystems            
Processes in oceanic ecosystems            
Processes in the atmosphere            
The carbon cycle & global warming            
The N, P, and S cycles            
Acidification and eutrophication of ecosystems


  • Laboratory Exercises 25%
  • Short Paper 10%
  • Term Paper 25%
  • Term Paper Presentation 10%
  • Final Examination - synchronous 30%



Schlesinger, W.H., and E.S. Bernhardt. 2013.  Biogeochemistry: An Analysis of Global Change, 3rd Ed. Academic Press.  

Custom Courseware Package. 2020.  Readings in Biogeochemistry.  SFU Bookstore.  

Additional readings drawn from the research literature will be assigned through the term.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).