Earth system scientists contribute to comprehending interactions and occurrences in various spheres; they can observe and describe, analyze and predict such occurrences due to their ability to think interconnected. They recognize correlations between forest fires and climate extremes or between rising sea levels and glacier meltdowns. Their appreciation for past, current, and future processes plays a decisive role in this context.
Comprehending our planet as well as the correlation and reaction between all kinds of different processes is of vital importance for the human race. People exert more and more influence on Earth's natural system; and this impact is discernible on a local, regional, and global scale.
Earth System Science pays careful attention to the fourth dimension
Earth system scientists strive to understand the complex system of a multitude of interacting procedures by using the most varied scientific methods. They have a wide range of theoretical, experimental, monitoring, modeling, and simulating approaches at their disposal. Remote sensing, for example, allows the observation and analysis of changes in land use that are regionally distinct. Long-term processes can be explored in rock, ice or the plant-and-soil system by means of modern, geochemical methods. All this contributes to a better understanding of future developments.
Earth System Science is interdisciplinary
Earth system science examines in detail the one planet in our solar system that contains life. In order to comprehend life, it is not only necessary to look into past processes but it is also inevitable to combine current processes with future scenarios on earth and make predictions accordingly. All this requires a close cooperation of various disciplines transcending paleontology, geochemistry, remote sensing, geography, environmental science, geology, and biology. It is this interplay between thorough knowledge and interdisciplinary approach that is stimulated when studying earth system science. This also allows for a new generation of scientists - well-trained to cope with challenges that future societies on earth will have to face.
Earth System Science combines theory, experiment, observation, and modeling
Accurate, theoretical foundations can only be implemented in significant, future-oriented prospects with the collaboration of experiments, observations, and modelings. Recognizing processes particularly afield still provides a basis for new scientific perceptions in all areas of the world - from the highest mountains to the depths of the sea. Earth system scientists synthesize their quantitative field observations by merging research results produced by experiments and modeling processes. Computer simulations using innovative, numerical methods are more and more important when integrating various data and interactions quantitatively. To understand those global processes regulating the internal dynamics of our planet means to be able to establish predictions for the future by analyzing the past.
Earth System Science at the University of Zurich (UZH)
The main pillars when studying earth system science comprise the Department of Geography UZH, the Institute of Environmental Studies UZH, and the Department of Earth Sciences at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ). These three institutes create an ideal framework in order to comprehend the earth’s spheres along with their interactions while facilitating the required interdisciplinarity in education. This cooperation provides for courses at international top level offered by outstanding members of the scientific research community. Lectures on earth system science will mainly be given at the Science Faculty of the University in Zurich.
Students will face up to an ambitious, scientific training based on essential mathematical, physical, and chemical principles. They will combine their affinity for the environment with their work in laboratories, in the field, and at the computer. It is furthermore an advantage to have the power of observation and a good spatial sense.
The Bachelor's progamme
In order to complete a bachelor's degree, students have to earn 180 credits. In their first academic year students will learn about those fundamentals on which all areas of earth system science are based: mathematics, chemistry, geography and geology. This first year consists entirely of compulsory modules. In their second academic year students will complete their scientific education in mathematics and cover the fundamentals in physics and biology . From the third semester on, the number of elective modules increases in order to better meet individual requirements. Mandatory courses will mainly be thought in German.