Spring 2024 - GEOG 316 D100

Global Biogeochemical and Water Cycles (4)

Class Number: 2060

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 8 – Apr 12, 2024: Wed, Fri, 9:30–10:20 a.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 23, 2024
    Tue, 3:30–6:30 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Lance Lesack
    1 778 782-5633
    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.


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:  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.

Course Topics: Introduction to the biogeochemical cycles & nutrient cycling
  Planetary origins & geology
  Global water and energy cycles
  Atmosphere and ocean circulation
  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

Cross-Cutting Themes: 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 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. 2024.  Readings in Biogeochemistry.  SFU Bookstore.

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


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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