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BENJAMIN FELZER

Assistant Professor

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Tel: 610-758-3536 | Fax: 610-758-3677
E-Mail: bsf208@lehigh.edu

Ph.D. (Geology), Brown University, 1995
M.S. (Geology), University of Colorado, 1990
B.A. with Honors (Physics major, Astronomy minor), Swarthmore College, 1987

Links: Full CV

            portfolio (restricted access)

 



Courses

1. EES023 Weather and Climate: Past, Present, and Future
An introduction to the basic principles of meteorology, as they pertain to past, present, and future climates. The course considers the earth’s energy balance, cloud formation and precipitation, winds and atmospheric circulation, regional climatologies, past warm periods and ice ages in earth’s history, and the latest ideas about future climate change and global warming. Students will maintain a weather notebook to enable them to relate theory to observations from real weather data. Three class hours per week. No prerequisites, but course will contain simple mathematical applications and you will learn how to use MS Excel.

2. EES004 Science of Environmental Issues (team-taught course; I teach section on Global Climate Change)
Analysis of current environmental issues from a scientific perspective. The focus on the course will be weekly discussions based on assigned readings. Pre- or co-requisite: 3-credit introductory-level (000-level) course in EES (or the cross-listed EES 105/ASTR 105/PHY 105). Staff. (NS)

3. EES100 Earth System Science
Examination of the Earth as an integrated system. Study of interactions and feedbacks between key components such as the atmosphere, biosphere, geosphere, and hydrosphere to permit better understanding of the behavior of the system as a whole. Response of the Earth system to human perturbations such as land use and emissions are explored in the context of predictions of future environmental conditions and their projected impacts back on human systems. Lectures, class discussions, and lab. Prerequisites: EES 22.

4. EES395 Intermediate Meteorology

An intermediate course on the basic principles of meteorology.  The course considers atmospheric structure and composition, earth’s energy balance and radiation laws, cloud formation and precipitation, atmospheric motion and circulation, including jet streams and planetary waves, atmospheric stability, frontal systems and air masses, regional climatologies, weather and climate modeling, and the latest ideas about future climate change and global warming.  Students will keep track of daily atmospheric charts to enable them to relate theory to observations from real weather data.

5. EES403 Earth System Modeling
This course will introduce the concepts behind computer modeling, including stocks and fluxes, finite differencing, initial and boundary conditions, feedbacks, calibration, validation, data visualization, monte carlo, and sensitivity. We will apply these ideas to radiative energy balance, atmosphere and ocean dynamics, hydrological cycling, terrestrial carbon and nitrogen dynamics, and vegetation biogeography. Students will learn both agent-based and systems dynamics modeling using NetLogo and Stella, simple box modeling in Excel, and research-oriented models such as the NCAR Community Climate System Model using C++, Fortran, and IDL. The lectures will relate these modeling exercises to the fundamental science to allow students to interpret how their results relate to larger questions of global climate change and carbon feedbacks.



Research Statement
From 2001-2008 I was a research associate at the Ecosystems Center of the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, MA, where I worked with the Terrestrial Ecosystems Model (TEM), a biogeochemical model of the carbon, nitrogen, and water cycles. I am using this model to understand the effects of the land surface, particularly vegetation, on the global carbon cycle. For example, global warming is caused by emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), but not all the CO2 we emit into the atmosphere remains there because of absorption by the ocean and land surface. I am also running the NCAR CESM global climate model here at Lehigh on our 72 core Beowulf cluster, Lehigh’s Corona cluster, and the NSF’s Yellowstone supercluster. Several important questions include a) can we account for the land component of the 'carbon sink? b) how do changes in vegetation cover affect atmospheric CO2 and the resulting climate? c) how does the ability of vegetation to remove CO2 from the atmosphere change with a warmer climate? d) how will vegetation migrate with shifting climates, and e) how does air pollution affect vegetation productivity?

My major research foci are a) using the TEM model to determine the effects of tropospheric ozone on vegetation production and carbon storage, b) using TEM coupled to the MIT Integrated Global Systems Model to determine the economic consequences of policy decisions regarding air quality, c) developing more realistic carbon, water, and nitrogen linkages to capture the effects of carbon and nitrogen feedbacks on the hydrological cycle, d) exploring land use and land cover change implications for carbon dynamics, especially with respect to future crop growth for biofuels, and e) using global and regional climate models to understand climate change in the past and to determine the impacts of future climate change on ecosystems and the hydrological cycle.  I also have been awarded funding from NSF’s Macrosystems Biology program to explore the effects of climate extremes (floods, droughts) on ecosystem functions and services.

During 2000/2001 I helped coordinate NOAA's Office of Global Programs (OGP)'s GCIP/GAPP (GEWEX Continental-scale International Project/GEWEX Americas Prediction Project, where GEWEX is the Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment) program. Previous to that, I served as the climate scenarios coodinator for the U.S. National Assessment of the potential consequences of climate variability and change (details), following my postdoctoral research at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (details). Please see my CV for list of publications and graduate research.

Last Updated 03/02/2013

RESEARCH PROJECTS

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