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Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology

Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology

Hawai‘i Natural Energy Institute

Hawai‘i Space Grant Consortium

Hawai‘i Undersea Research Laboratory

International Pacific Research Center

Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research

Pacific Biosciences Research Center

Sea Grant College Program

Global Environmental Science

Global Environmental Science

Marine Science Building 205C, 205E
1000 Pope Road
Honolulu, HI 96822

Tel: (808) 956-2910
Fax: (808) 956-9225


M. Guidry, PhD (Undergraduate Chair)—biogeochemical modeling, mineral precipitation/dissolution kinetics, K-12/university curriculum development
R. Alegado, PhD—marine microbial ecology, choanoflagellate-bacterial interactions, influence of bacteria on animal evolution
J. M. Becker, PhD—geophysical fluid dynamics, nonlinear waves and stability, coastal processes, general ocean circulation
D. Beilman, PhD—long-term terrestrial ecology, paleoscience approaches to global change science, carbon cycling
S. Businger, PhD—mesoscale and synoptic meteorology
B. C. Bruno, PhD—planetary geosciences, geoscience education
G. S. Carter, PhD—physical oceanography, ocean mixing, tides, internal waves
M. J. Church, PhD—microbial oceanography, aquatic nitrogen cycling, and microbial physiology
M. J. Cooney, PhD—anaerobic digestion of high strength wastewaters, development of next generation biofilm carriers for use in packed bed anaerobic digesters, solvent based bio-oil extraction from biomass
E. H. De Carlo, PhD—carbon dioxide-carbonic acid system biogeochemical studies of coastal waters, gas exchange, land-ocean interactions and coral reef metabolism
J. L. Deenik, PhD—soil fertility and soil quality, nitrogen and carbon cycling in agroecosystems, traditional agroecosystems, biochar and sustainable agriculture
E. F. DeLong, PhD—microbial oceanography, environmental genomics and allied technologies, microbial evolution, ecological interactions and biogeochemistry
S. Dollar, PhD—biogeochemistry, nearshore processes and effects of human activity on the coastal zone
J. C. Drazen, PhD—deep-sea ecology and fisheries, energetics and tropodynamics, physiological ecology of marine fishes
A. El-Kadi, PhD—hydrogeology, modeling groundwater systems
E. Firing, PhD—ocean circulation and currents on all scales, with emphasis on observations and dynamics
P. J. Flament, PhD—dynamics of surface ocean layer, mesoscale structures, remote sensing, water-types formation subduction and thermocline ventilation, mixing process
C. H. Fletcher, PhD—quaternary and coastal marine geology, sea-level history, coastal sedimentary processes
P. Fryer, PhD—marine geology, petrology, tectonics
E. Gaidos, PhD—molecular evolution; microbiology of extreme environments; biosphere-climate feedbacks; critical intervals in Earth history; exobiology; biological networks
M. O. Garcia, PhD—volcanology, igneous petrology, geochemistry
T. W. Giambelluca, PhD—interactions between the atmosphere and the land surface, including influences of land use and land cover change on climate and surface hydrology and effects of global climate change on hydrologic processes and terrestrial ecology
B. T. Glazer, PhD—biogeochemical processes in marine environments; use of molecular methods to characterize and understand synergy of geomicrobiology
C. R. Glenn, PhD—paleoceanography, marine geology, sedimentology, sediment diagenesis
E. Goetze, PhD—marine zooplankton ecology; dispersal and gene flow in marine plankton populations; evolution, behavioral ecology and systematics of marine calanoid copepods
E. G. Grau, PhD—environmental physiology and comparative endocrinology of fish
M. P. Hamnet, PhD—coastal zone management; fisheries economics; disaster preparedness and mitigation
D. T. Ho, PhD—air-water gas exchange, tracer oceanography, carbon cycle, and environmental geochemistry
S. Howell, PhD—aerosol composition, size distributions, and dynamics by deposition of particle aerosol sampling
P. Kemp, PhD—growth, activity and diversity of marine microbes; biosensor applications in microbial oceanography; molecular ecology of marine bacteria
M. Kirs—environmental microbiology, Microbial source tracking, recreational water quality
D. E. Konan, PhD—international trade, microeconomics, computational economics
N. Lautze, PhD—geothermal/sustainable energy, physical volcanology, natural hazards
K. Lowry, PhD—design, planning and evaluation of ocean and coastal management programs; experience in Hawai'i, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Philippines and Thailand
S. J. Martel, PhD—engineering and structural geology
M. A. McManus, PhD—coast circulation, mesoscale processes, physical-biological interactions in the ocean
G. M. McMurtry, PhD—geochemistry, geology and geophysics
C. Measures, PhD—trace element geochemistry, shipboard analytical methods, atmospheric deposition to the oceans, elemental mass balances
M. Merlin, PhD—biogeography, natural history of the Pacific
M. A. Merrifield, PhD—physical oceanography; coastal circulation; sea level variability; current flows and mixing in the vicinity of coral reefs, islands and seamounts
T. Miura, PhD—remote sensing of terrestrial vegetation, GIS
G. F. Moore, PhD—marine geophysics, structural geology
M. J. Mottl, PhD—hydrothermal processes, geochemical cycles
P. Mouginis-Mark, PhD—planetary geology, remote sensing, space mission concepts
C. E. Nelson, PhD—microbial ecology and ecosystem science in oceans, coral reefs, and freshwater habitats
A. B. Neuheimer, PhD—quantitative ecology of fish and aquatic invertebrate populations, with applications to evolutionary biology, physiology, ecosystem dynamics, resource management, and climate issues
B. N. Popp, PhD—isotope biogeochemistry, organic geochemistry
J. N. Porter, PhD—atmospheric science, use of satellites to study aerosol and cloud forcing, ship measurements of aerosol and cloud optical properties
J. Potemra, PhD—general ocean circulation and its relationship to climate; oceanic processes in the western equatorial Pacific and eastern Indian Ocean and their connection
B. S. Powell, PhD—numerical modeling, variational data assimilation, ocean predictability, ocean dynamical modes, and ocean ecosystem dynamics
M. S. Rappe, PhD—ecology of marine microorganisms; genomics; coral-associated microorganisms; ecology of microorganisms in the deep subsurface
G. Ravizza, PhD—paleoceanography and environmental chemistry; geologic history of chemical weathering; geochemistry of recent and ancient metalliferous sediments; anthropogenic influences on the geochemical cycles of the platinum group elements; chemical signatures of extraterrestrial matter in marine sediments; biogeochemistry of molybdenum in the marine environment
K. J. Richards, PhD—ocean mixing processes, circulation and dynamics, ocean-atmosphere interaction, ecosystem modeling
M. A. Ridgley, PhD—resource management and human-environment system analysis
M. Roberts, PhD—environmental, resource and agricultural economics
J. Roumasset, PhD—environmental economics and sustainable growth
O. Rouxel, PhD—co-evolution of life and Earth, sources and biogeochemical cycling of metals in the ocean, weathering processes, seafloor hydrothermal systems, marine mineral deposits, nontraditional stable isotope geochemistry
K. Rubin, PhD—isotope geochemistry, chronology
K. Ruttenberg, PhD—biogeochemistry of phosphorus and phosphorus cycling in the ocean, rivers, and lakes; nutrient limitation of aquatic primary productivity; effects of redox chemistry on nutrient cycling; early diagenesis in marine sediments with focus on authigenic mineral formation and organic matter mineralization
F. J. Sansone, PhD—biogeochemistry of permeable (sandy) sediments, coastal processes, trace-gas biogeochemistry, hydrothermal geochemistry
N. Schneider, PhD—decadal climate variability, tropical air-sea interaction, coupled modeling
S. K. Sharma, PhD—atmospheric instrumentation and remote sensing; Lidar, Raman, and infrared spectrometry and fiber-optic environmental sensors
C. R. Smith, PhD—benthic and ecology, deep-sea biology, sediment geochemistry, climate-change effects on Antarctic ecosystems, marine conservation
D. M. Spencer, PhD—tourism policy, planning and management
D. Spirandelli, PhD—coupled human-natural systems in urbanizing environments, complex adaptive systems, resilience in coastal ecosystems, theories of risk
G. F. Steward, PhD—aquatic microbial ecology, molecular ecology and diversity of viruses and bacteria
A. Timmermann, PhD—tropical climate variability, large-scale ocean circulation, Paleoceanography, Earth-system modeling
B. Wang, PhD—atmospheric and climate dynamics
J. C. Wiltshire, PhD—marine minerals, mine tailings and disposal, remediation and submersible engineering and operations
R. Wright, PhD—remote sensing of volcanos
R. E. Zeebe, PhD—global biogeochemical cycles, carbon dioxide system in seawater and interrelations with marine plankton, paleoceanography, stable isotope geochemistry

Degree Offered: BS in global environmental science

with the head:

The Academic Program


Global environmental science is a holistic, scientific approach to the study of the Earth system and its physical, chemical, biological, and human processes. This academic program is designed to educate leaders and citizenry to become wise stewards of our planet. Global environmental science focuses on the global reservoirs of hydrosphere (water, primarily oceans), biosphere (life and organic matter), atmosphere (air), lithosphere (land, sediments, and rocks), and cryosphere (ice); their interfaces; and the processes acting upon and within this interactive system, including human activities. In the course of their scientific studies, global environmental science students are able to investigate natural as well as economic, policy, and social systems and their response and interaction with the Earth system. Global environmental science has important ties to the more classical sciences of geology and geophysics, meteorology and climatology, oceanography, and ecology as well as to the social sciences. Thus, the scope of global environmental science is extremely broad. This breadth is reflected in the interdisciplinary nature of the faculty, which is primarily drawn from numerous departments and research institutions within the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology.

Global environmental science has much to offer the student who is interested in the environment and the effect of humans on the environment. The skills developed in global environmental science can be brought to bear on local, regional, and global environmental issues. Many of the critical environmental problems confronting humankind involve large-scale processes and interactions among the atmosphere, oceans, biosphere, cryosphere, shallow lithosphere, and people. Some of the problems derive from natural causes; others are a result of human activities. Some of the issues that global environmental science students deal with are: climatic changes from anthropogenic inputs to the atmosphere of CO2 and other greenhouse gases; human interventions and disruptions in the biogeochemical cycles of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, trace metals, and other substances; emissions of nitrogen and sulfur oxide gases and volatile organic compounds to the atmosphere and the issues of acid deposition and photochemical smog; depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer and associated increase in the flux of ultraviolet radiation to Earth’s surface; increasing rates of tropical deforestation and other large-scale destruction of habitat, with potential effects on climate and the hydrologic cycle; disappearance of biotic diversity through explosive rates of species extinction; global consequences of the distribution and application of potentially toxic chemicals in the environment and biotechnology; interannual and interdecadal climate variability, e.g., El Nino/Southern Oscillation; eutrophication; water and air quality; exploitation of natural resources with consequent problems of waste disposal; earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural hazards and prediction; and waste disposal: municipal, toxic chemical, and radioactive. In all cases, the student is encouraged to understand and appreciate the social, economic, and ultimately the policy decisions associated with these and other environmental issues.

Specifically with respect to learning objectives, the students develop competency in understanding how the physical, biological, and chemical worlds are interconnected in the Earth system. They obtain skills in basic mathematics, chemistry, physics, and biology that enable them to deal with courses in the derivative geological, oceanographic, and atmospheric sciences at a level higher than that of qualitative description. In turn, these skills enable the students to learn the subject matter of global environmental science within a rigorous context. The students develop an awareness of the complexity of the Earth system and how it has changed during geologic time and how human activities have modified the system and led to a number of local, regional, and global environmental issues. They become competent in using computers and dealing with environmental databases and with more standard sources of information in the field. They are exposed to experimental, observational, and theoretical methodologies of research and complete an environmentally focused senior research thesis in environmental study using one or more of these methodologies. Project field work is encouraged for the senior thesis and, depending on the topic chosen by the student, can be carried out at the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology’s Coconut Island facility, E. W. Pauley Laboratory, associated He‘eia ahupua‘a, Ka Papa Lo‘i O Kanewai, or elsewhere.

The ultimate objective of the global environmental science program is to produce a student informed in the environmental sciences at a rigorous level who is able to go on to graduate or professional school; enter the work force in environmental science positions in industry, business, or government; enter or return to teaching with knowledge of how the Earth system works; or enter the work force in another field as an educated person with the knowledge required to become a wise environmental steward of the planet.


Students contemplating a major in global environmental science should visit the program coordinator at the earliest opportunity. Inquire at the global environmental science office, Marine Science Building 205; tel. (808) 956-2910, fax (808) 956-9225; email:

BS in Global Environmental Science


University Core and Graduation Requirements

Of the 31 credits of General Education Core Requirements, 10 are in math and science and are fulfilled through the GES degree. Graduation Requirements include 8 Focus courses, 7 of which can currently be taken through the GES program requirements [Contemporary Ethical Issues (OCN 310), Oral Communications (OCN 490), and 4 Writing Intensive courses (BIOL 171L, OCN 310, 320, 399, 401, and 499)].

Global Environmental Science Requirements

Aside from General Education Core and Graduation requirements, the global environmental science program has core requirements of two basic types: basic sciences and derivative sciences. The former provides the foundation to understand and appreciate the latter in the context of basic skills and mathematics, biology, chemistry, and physics. Both global environmental science core requirements provide the necessary cognitive skills to deal with the higher academic level courses within the global environmental science curriculum. These include 7 required foundation courses in global environmental science and a minimum of 4 coupled systems courses. It is within this latter category of course work that the formal course program will be tailored to the individual student’s needs. For example, we anticipate that most students will follow closely a natural science track of study, perhaps concentrating on the terrestrial, marine, or atmospheric environment. However, because of the human dimensions issues involved in the subject matter of environmental change, some students may wish to expand their academic program into the social sciences that bear on the issues of global change.

A minimum grade of C must be obtained in all GES required courses.

Core Basic Sciences Requirement (38 credits)

  • BIOL 171/171L, 172/172L
  • CHEM 161/161L, 162/162L
  • MATH 241, 242
  • MATH 243, 244 or OCN/GG 312, ECON 321
  • PHYS 170/170L, 272/272L

Core Derivative Sciences Requirement (11 credits)

  • GG 101/101L or GG 170
  • ATMO 200
  • OCN 201/201L

Foundation Course Requirements (18 credits)

  • GEOG 411 Past Global Change and the Human Era or GEOG 410 Human Role in Environmental Change
  • OCN 100 Global Environmental Science Seminar
  • OCN 310/310L Global Environmental Change/Lab
  • OCN 320 Aquatic Pollution
  • OCN 363 Earth System Science Databases
  • OCN 401 Biogeochemical Systems

Coupled Systems Courses (4 minimum-Examples)

  • ASTR 210 Foundations of Astronomy
  • BIOC 241 Fundamentals of Biochemistry
  • BIOL 265 Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • BIOL 301 Marine Ecology and Evolution
  • BIOL 404 Advanced Topics in Marine Biology
  • BOT 350 Resource Management & Conservation in Hawai‘i
  • BOT 480 Algal Diversity and Evolution
  • ECON 358 Environmental Economics
  • ECON 458 Project Evaluation and Resource Management
  • ECON 496 Contemporary Economic Issues
  • ECON 638 Environmental Resource Economics
  • GEOG 300 Introduction to Climatology
  • GEOG 388 Introduction to GIS
  • GEOG 401 Climate Change
  • GEOG 402 Agricultural Climatology
  • GEOG 404 Atmospheric Pollution
  • GEOG 405 Water in the Environment
  • GG 301 Mineralogy
  • GG 309 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy
  • GG 420 Beaches, Reefs, and Climate Change
  • GG 425 Environmental Geochemistry
  • GG 444/OCN 444 Plate Tectonics
  • GG 455 Hydrogeology
  • GG 466 Planetary Geology
  • ATMO 302 Atmospheric Physics
  • ATMO 303 Introduction to Atmospheric Dynamics
  • MICR 401 Marine Microbiology
  • NREM 301/301L Natural Resources Management/Lab
  • NREM 302 Natural Resource and Environmental Policy
  • NREM 304 Fundamentals of Soil Science
  • NREM 461 Soil and Water Conservation
  • OCN 330 Mineral and Energy Resources of the Sea
  • OCN 331 Living Resources of the Sea
  • OCN 403 Marine Functional Ecology and Biotechnology
  • OCN 435 Climate Change and Urbanization
  • OCN 480 Dynamics of Marine Ecosystems: Biological-Physical Interactions in the Oceans
  • OCN 620 Physical Oceanography
  • OCN 621 Biological Oceanography
  • OCN 622 Geological Oceanography
  • OCN 623 Chemical Oceanography
  • OCN 630 Deep-Sea Biology
  • OCN 633 Biogeochemical Methods in Oceanography
  • OCN 638 Earth System Science and Global Change
  • PHIL 315/OCN 315 The Role of Models in Global Environmental Science
  • PHIL 316 Science, Technology, and Society
  • PLAN 310 Introduction to Planning
  • POLS 316 International Relations
  • SOC 412 Analysis in Population and Society
  • ZOOL 410 Corals and Coral Reefs
  • ZOOL 466 Fisheries Science

The student may also wish to take additional courses in fundamental physics, chemistry, biology, or mathematics.

In addition to students being able to choose their own coupled systems courses to customize their degree per their interests and goals, the global environmental science program also has four tracks (with defined coupled system courses) in the cross-disciplinary environmental science areas of (1) environmental planning, (2) environmental health, (3) sustainable tourism, and (4) sustainability science. For each of these tracks, the collaborating department and their faculty have agreed to support the major required research thesis project so that global environmental science students are able to focus both their curricular and research experience in track’s subject material.

  1. Environmental Planning (cross-disciplinary with Department of Urban and Regional Planning): Global environmental problems like human-induced climate change challenge local strategies to manage natural resources, protect sensitive species’ habitats, and ensure the long-term health of ecosystems. With over fifty-percent of the world’s population now living in urban areas and consuming most of the earth’s resources, the way we plan, design, and regulate our cities exacerbates local conditions. At the same time, urban areas are also important locations for solutions. Environmental planners adopt solutions-oriented approaches to address environmental problems, such as supporting local food production, building disaster risk reduction, deploying clean sources of energy, conserving biodiversity and natural habitats, managing urban waste, adapting to sea-level rise, and preserving freshwater resources. Planning as a discipline has a long tradition in problem solving across different scales from neighborhoods to entire regions with extensive community involvement. Graduates will be uniquely positioned for careers as environmental planners, specialists, and consultants employed by government agencies or private firms required to review planning permits, develop master plans, prepare environmental impact studies, or develop mitigation strategies to minimize development impacts.
  2. Environmental Health Sciences (cross-disciplinary with Office of Public Health Studies): This track enables a student in the Global Environmental Sciences Program to concentrate his/her academic studies in areas of significant importance in the relationship between environmental issues and public health. The inter-relationship between the environment and its impact on human health is vast and constantly changing. Issues such as food security, emerging zoonotic diseases, water scarcity, air and water pollution, over population, waste disposal, pesticide use, depletion of resources on land and in the sea are just a few of the pressing environmental issues that affect the health and well-being of millions of people worldwide. In this track students will gain the basic scientific knowledge necessary to understand the underlying science of the environment while simultaneously being exposed to public health principles that are essential for establishing cause and effect relationships between environmental conditions and human health, as well as understanding the compromises that sometimes must be made to accommodate economic, health, and environmental preservation goals. Graduates of this track will be uniquely positioned for careers in the environmental health field ranging from laboratory workers to regulatory policy and enforcement officers with environmental agencies.
  3. Sustainable Tourism (cross-disciplinary with the School of Travel Industry Management): The relationship between tourism and the natural environment is intimate and complex. The desire for contact with nature drives enormous volumes of tourism, yielding not only tourist spending and associated jobs and tax revenues, but also pollution, waste, and overdevelopment resulting from the transportation of masses of people and the construction and operation of tourism-related facilities. Indeed, such pollution, waste, and overdevelopment diminish the quality of the very environments that impel nature-based tourism to begin with. In addition, issues such as food security, water scarcity, overpopulation, urban sprawl, pesticide use, global warming, rising sea levels, and depletion of resources on land and in the sea are just a few of the pressing environmental issues that affect the attractiveness, competitiveness, and sustainability of destinations throughout the world. Graduates will be uniquely positioned for careers as planners, specialists, and consultants employed by government agencies required to prepare environmental impact studies and/or tourism plans, consulting firms that prepare such studies and/or plans for government agencies, and nonprofit organizations that operate tourism “ecocertification” programs that provide tourism-related businesses with credentials of their “greenness.”
  4. Sustainability Science: Sustainability Science probes interactions between global, social, and human systems, the complex mechanisms that lead to degradation of these systems, and concomitant risks to human well-being. As Sustainability Science has emerged in the 21st century as a new academic discipline, it brings together scholarship and practice, global and local perspectives, and disciplines across the natural and social sciences, engineering, and medicine–facilitating the design, implementation, and evaluation of practical interventions that promote sustainability in particular places and contexts. The GES graduate from the sustainability track is prepared for opportunities in all fields that would hire environmental scientists, and to be especially competitive for those opportunities that target the design, analysis, implementation, maintenance, and/or monitoring of processes or systems that target increased sustainability.

Directed Reading

  • OCN 399 Directed Reading

Course offering with an individual faculty member to do a one-on-one study on a topic of particular interest to you.

This could be used to explore a topic before deciding on a senior thesis, or because you are interested in an area in which there isn't a formal course offering. It can be taken for CR/NC or for a grade and you can register for 1-3 credits. This is not considered a CS class.

Senior Research Thesis (5-8 hours)

  • OCN 490 Communication of Research Results
  • OCN 499 Undergraduate Thesis

Each student is required to complete a written senior thesis based on research conducted with one or more chosen advisors, and to make a public presentation of their research results.

Marine Biology

See the “Interdisciplinary Programs” section of the Catalog for more information on the Marine Biology Graduate Program.

OCN Courses