Approaching calculus through an earth-lens

Calculus is the study of 

  • the rate of change of quantities,
  • the net change of quantities, and
  • relations between quantities and their rate of change.

Our planet earth, too, is all about change: we see it in the weather, animal populations, even the height of mountains over time! With such a natural overlap in subject matter, the calculus of the mathematics of planet earth is ripe for more exploration.

In this summer blog, I'm planning to look at a few different stories:

  • the periodic fluctuations in the populations of arctic lemmings and snowshoe hares, and possible effects of climate instability
  • our atmosphere: you probably know that it's harder to get enough oxygen at the top of Mount Everest, but did you know we have a "gas leak"?
  • water: the most important resource for human existence and a major  factor in climate. How are we using water and what is the health of our aquatic ecosystems?

As we go, there will certainly be some side trips. I love learning about different things, and along the way I've discovered that chickens adjust their dry matter intake based on temperature and that ibuprofen in waterways is degraded by sunlight. Right there we've got an optimization problem and a related rates project! If you've got suggestions or comments, let me know via email or the comments below each post. My hope is that this blog will serve as a resource for instructors and provide a space for conversation for professors and teachers of calculus.

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