Spring 2022 - GEOG 316 D100

Global Biogeochemical and Water Cycles (4)

Class Number: 4752

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 10 – Apr 11, 2022: Wed, 9:30–10:20 a.m.

    Jan 10 – Apr 11, 2022: Fri, 9:30–10:20 a.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 25, 2022
    Mon, 3:30–6:30 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Lance Lesack
    1 778 782-3326
    Office: RCB 7225
  • 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.


Description:  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.

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

Cross-Cutting Themes:         
            The carbon cycle & global warming
            The N, P, and S cycles
            Acidification and eutrophication of ecosystems

Organization:  Two one-hour lectures and one two-hour laboratory session per week.  The final exam will be scheduled during the regular examination period.  There will be no laboratory session in the first week of classes.

Spring 2022 courses will be delivered in person based on information available at the time of publishing the outline; please note the delivery mode is subject to change following Provincial Health Officer (PHO) and/or SFU recommendations and orders.


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



Schlesinger, W.H., and E.S. Bernhardt. 2020.  Biogeochemistry: An Analysis of Global Change, 4th Ed. Academic Press.  Paperback ISBN: 9780128146088; eBook ISBN: 9780128146095

Custom Courseware Package. 2022.  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 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware 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.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the spring 2022 term.