Instructor: Jeff Bowman


Office: Sverdrup Hall 2139

The cryosphere comprises sea ice, glaciers, snow, and other frozen environments.  Changing rapidly in the face of global climate change, these environments host unique and highly adapted ecosystems that play an important role in the global Earth system. In this course we will explore the physiology and ecology of organisms in the cryosphere and peripheral habitats. A special emphasis will be placed on sea ice as a habitat archetype but glacier, snow, and permafrost will also be covered.


BILD 1, BILD 2, BILD 3, or consent of instructor.

Course listing on UCSD class catalog


  • In class quizzes - 5%
  • Midterm presentation - 15%
  • Final paper - 25%
  • Annotated bibliography - 15%
  • Final exam - 40%

Course textbook (required):

Johanna Laybourn-Parry, Martyn Tranter, and Andrew J. Hodson, 2012. The Ecology of Snow and Ice Environments. Oxford University Press. 

Late work policy:

Late work will not be accepted. Really. Work is accepted by email/online submission until midnight of the due date except where noted in the schedule. Because of this there is really no conceivable reason for not submitting an assignment on time. If you are literally in a coma due to unforeseen circumstances an exception will be made.


In-class quizzes

Each class will start with a short 2-3 question quiz on the previous lecture or reading. If you are unable to attend class you can provide a brief, 500 word summary on the topic of the lecture covered by the quiz. This summary is due by email on the day of the lecture following the one you missed.

Annotated bibliography

The annotated bibliography, mid-term presentation, and final paper are all on the same topic. You will provide three possible topics; I will sort the class into groups based on interest. Each group will choose their final topic. The annotated bibliography will consist of a short review of five references. Each review should follow a complete citation in Harvard format, and should be 2-3 paragraphs in length (roughly 1/2 page). There should be NO OVERLAP in annotated references between group members. The annotated bibliography is graded only on:

  1. The correct number of references,
  2. Whether the citations are complete,
  3. Whether the references are appropriate (e.g., peer reviewed, or authoritative report etc.).
Mid-term presentation

Each group will give a 20-minute presentation on their topic, with 5 minutes of questions. All group members are expected to actively participate in both the preparation and presentation.

Final paper

The final paper will be a 2000 word paper on your topic. The paper should be well referenced (min 10), and should include one original figure. Discussion and coordination among group members is encouraged, but your papers should be sufficiently distinct that they pass a plagiarism check. Required elements of the paper include: title, abstract, original figure, wordcount. Grading criteria are given in the final project rubric in the Google Team Drive. See notes on submission in the schedule below.

Final exam

The final exam will be comprehensive, and consist of a mix of multiple choice and short answer questions.