Offered by the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
2124 Snee Hall
The Earth Sciences have never been more critical to society than they are today. Global warming, dwindling energy resources, inadequate water supplies, political strife over strategic minerals, and mega-disasters threatened by volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunami, and hurricanes: these are but a few of the headlines that appear with increasing frequency. The Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Cornell is a global leader in research directed toward understanding the fundamental processes that have shaped our planet, and is committed to providing Cornell students with the earth literacy needed to serve as informed citizens and wise stewards of the Earth. EAS faculty members and graduate students carry out frontier research on both basic and applied aspects of subjects as diverse as satellite monitoring of volcanic activity, the deep structure of the Andes Mountains and Tibetan Plateau, natural and man-made earthquakes, the nature of the earth’s ionosphere, ocean acoustics, controls on global climate, and improved weather prediction.
The Earth and Atmospheric Sciences (EAS) major is the undergraduate program offered by the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences to Cornell students in the College of Engineering, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Students in this program can pursue education and research that prepares them to compete for careers or graduate study at leading institutions in this country and abroad. Students may choose to focus on one of a number of disciplinary specialties, such as geophysics or biogeochemistry, or develop the broad expertise needed to understand the interactions between the diverse elements of earth and life in the past, present, and future. By analyzing the complex relations among the ocean, solid earth, atmosphere, and biosphere, students can help meet society’s growing demand for energy, minerals, and clean water as well as contribute to mitigating the negative impacts related to global warming, rising sea level, natural hazards, and decreasing biodiversity.
The EAS program is intrinsically interdisciplinary, involving many branches of science and engineering. Examples of the latter include civil and environmental engineering, biological and environmental engineering, mechanical and aerospace engineering, and electrical and computer engineering. The EAS program is unique in that it incorporates the fundamentals of Earth Science with the emergence of a new and more complete approach that encompasses all components of the earth system—air, life, rock, and water—to gain a new and more comprehensive understanding of the world as we know it.
To achieve a complete understanding of these important issues, students must have a desire to take a very hands-on approach. An abundance of opportunities exists for geological, oceanographic, and meteorological research in the field and for nationwide and international travel as well as paid research experience. Students have worked with faculty members in the Andes, the Aleutians, the Rocky Mountains, the Atacama Desert, the Caribbean, Tibet, and Hawaii, and have spent a semester at sea in the Woods Hole Ocean Studies Program. Students are also able to probe the ionosphere of Earth and the surface of Mars by utilizing techniques in remote sensing.
The EAS major provides a strong preparation for graduate school in any one of the earth sciences, such as atmospheric sciences, geological sciences, geophysics, geochemistry, oceanography, hydrology, biogeochemistry, and environmental geoscience. Students seeking employment with the B.A. or B.S. degree will have many options in a wide variety of careers related to energy, the environment, and critical resources in both the private sector and government. Students with the strong science background provided by the EAS major are also highly valued by graduate programs in environmental law, public affairs, economics, and public policy.