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Earth, the Water Planet


Numbering Code
  • G-GAIS00 83001 LE14
  • G-GAIS00 83001 LE56
  • G-GAIS00 83001 LE58
Term 2020/First semester
Number of Credits 2 credits
Course Type Lecture
Target Year From 1st to 3rd year students
Target Student Graduate
Language English
Day/Period Wed.3
  • Graduate School of Advanced Integrated Studies in Human Survivability, Professor YAMASHIKI YOUSUKE
  • Graduate School of Science, Associate Professor ASAI AYUMI
Outline and Purpose of the Course This course focuses on the physical background of the formation and development of Planet Earth as the Water Planet. The critical conditions for the formation of the ocean and the presence of the hydrological cycle on Earth will be discussed by introducing a basis of planetary physics and the history of the Earth. Students will compare the earth to other earth-like planets; compare the balance of radiation and temperature (Blackbody temperature), and surface temperatures by means of planetary exploration; compare various planet’s atmospheres caused by the greenhouse effect; and learn about the Runaway Greenhouse Effect and the Earth’s Snowball Effect conditions as a water planet. Through the study of Earth’s history, students will learn about the conditions that had to occur for the ocean and atmosphere to form, along with the climate effects that brought about oceanic circulation and the hydrologic cycle, and about the extreme events that could occur if this system wasn’t functioning properly. Finally, by means of studying large scale extinctions, students will learn about ways to maintain Earth’s ecological system.
Course Goals This lecture aims for all students to comprehend basic knowledge of our planet earth as the “Water Planet” in the solar system by learning specific characteristics of inner/outer planets through mutual comparison, by learning several extinction events throughout history of the earth, and by considering the mission of human kind as creatures living on this planet. Students will gain a deep understanding of the common and specific aspects of our solar system. Through the study of Earth’s history, students will understand the stability of oceanic and hydrological systems of the earth’s climate and the factors that caused the earth’s ecosystem to form. Through hypotheses about large scale extinctions, students will learn how to avoid them in the future. Debates and discussions on these topics will be included in the lectures as well as one-on-one discussions and reports.
Schedule and Contents (Class Contents)
[Class 1-2] Overview of the course; Introduction of the Planet Earth as the “Water Planet” through inter-comparison with other (Terrestrial and Jovian) planets in the solar system. By using solar constants and planetary albedos, calculations for all terrestrial & Jovian planets will be made of the balance of temperature and radiation (Blackbody Temperature). Using these, students will learn the differences in greenhouse effects based on each planet’s atmosphere composition.
[Class 3-4] Ocean Formation Conditions 1-- Critical condition for the formation of ocean and hydrological cycle on the Earth; Introduction of the basis of planetary physics and history of the Earth, throughout comprehension of Critical fluxes and the Runaway Greenhouse Effect. Also important effects of solar radiation and solar activities.
[Class 5-6] Ocean Formation Conditions 2-- Interaction of near land surface atmospheric processes with catchment hydrologic and geomorphic processes as well as land cover effects, examples from rain and snow dominated environments. Evaporation and transpiration, and potential threat of shutdown of all processes throughout Snowball Earth.
[Class 7-8] Introduce Solar - Earth Interaction, space weather (Seventh) and impact of Solar activity on Early & current Terrestrial and Martian system.
[Class 9-10] The History of Earth’s Formation 1--Explanations about the birth of the moon, and the giant impact.
[Class 11] The History of Earth’s Formation 2-- Students will learn about; proof of Snowball Earth and the effect of the atmosphere’s composition (increased oxygen concentration due to hydrogen peroxide creation), and the effect of ocean circulation discontinuation due to freezing.
[Class 12] The History of Earth’s Formation 3-- Students will learn about Permian-Triassic (P-Tr) Extinction Event and potential threat of Oceanic Anoxia Events- OAEs.
[Class 13] The History of Earth’s Formation 4--Students will learn about the meteor collision of the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) (or Cretateous-Tertiary (K-T)) Extinction Event through the presence of the iridium in K-Pg (K-T) boundary.
[Class 14] The History of Earth’s Formation 5―Students will learn about Cenozoic and Holocene catastrophic events by introducing several hypotheses of asteroid impacts and volcanic eruptions.
[Class 15] Students will learn the concepts of “Goldilocks zone” by introducing solar and extra-solar planetary system and management in continental scale. Concepts for sustainable water management on a global scale.
Astronomical observation events for inner/outer planets are scheduled in Kyoto (at Kwasan Observatory, and surrounding area etc.) using a refracting telescope and binocular telescope for those who wish to join.
Grading Policy Evaluation will be made based on short reports and the final report, along with understanding of lecture contents.
Prerequisites None
Preparation and Review Students are asked to study distributed materials and English videos.
  • Materials will be distributed during class.
  • シリーズ現代の天文学 第一巻 人類の住む宇宙 及び 第九巻太陽系と惑星,