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NOTE: The Course takes place in lecture room 3200, in the Innovation Research Park 1, 4111 Monarch Way, 3rd Floor.

Course title: Environmental Geodesy.

Motivation: Geodetic techniques are increasingly used in many fields of Earth science for studies of the solid Earth, the troposphere, the ionosphere, the ocean, terrestrial hydrosphere, the cryosphere, and the climate system. In addition, these techniques increasingly support many societal applications requiring georeferencing. Therefore, students in many fields would greatly benefit from a principle understanding of the fundamental geodetic concepts and an overview of the applications of the geodetic techniques in Earth sciences and adjacent fields.

Level and prerequisite, and potential students: The course will be designed for all students in Earth science fields, including geophysics, geology, geography, hydrology, meteorology, climatology, oceanography. The course will also be of interest to engineering students who want to build a principle understanding of these techniques in their relevance for other applications. The requirements in terms of prerequisite will be kept at a minimum, however, basic courses in physics and mathematics would be an advantage.

Description: The course will give an introduction to the so-called three pillars of geodesy, that is, the shape of the Earth (including ocean and ice surfaces), the gravity field of the Earth and the rotation of the Earth, as well as the fundamentals of geodetic reference systems and their realization through geodetic reference frames. Based on these concepts, an overview of the geodetic techniques, in particular the space geodetic techniques will be provided with focus on their individual strengths and weaknesses. The impact of environmental processes on the geodetic observations will be addressed, both as a noise limiting accuracy and precision and as a signal increasing the versatility of the geodetic techniques for environmental studies. The third and last part of the course will use a number of examples to illustrate the versatility of geodesy in many Earth science and adjacent fields. Examples will include but not be limited to the determination of surface displacements of the solid Earth due to earthquakes, tectonic deformations, and surface loading; determination of atmospheric water content; atmospheric and ionosphere seismology; space weather; determination of variations in land water storage; georeferencing in GIS; and tsunami early warning.

Learning goals of the course

Students will:


Offices and Office Hours:

Dr. Hans-Peter Plag
4111 Monarch Way, Room 3211
p: 683-5335/773-4803, skype: hpplag
e: hpplag at (preferred mode of contact)
Office hours: by appointment
Ben Hamlington
4111 Monarch Way, Room 32xx, e: bhamling at
Office hours: by appointment

For policies (Special Needs, Late Assignments, Grading) see here.

Prerequistes: N/A

Reading List: Is available here.

Time: Thursdays, 11:15-2:00 PM

Room: see note above.


There will be weekly homework.