First cycle
degree courses
Second cycle
degree courses
Single cycle
degree courses
School of Science
Course unit
SCM0018542, A.A. 2018/19

Information concerning the students who enrolled in A.Y. 2017/18

Information on the course unit
Degree course Second cycle degree in
SC1180, Degree course structure A.Y. 2009/10, A.Y. 2018/19
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Number of ECTS credits allocated 6.0
Type of assessment Mark
Website of the academic structure
Department of reference Department of Geosciences
E-Learning website
Mandatory attendance
Language of instruction English
Single Course unit The Course unit can be attended under the option Single Course unit attendance
Optional Course unit The Course unit can be chosen as Optional Course unit

Teacher in charge LUCA CAPRARO GEO/01

ECTS: details
Type Scientific-Disciplinary Sector Credits allocated
Core courses GEO/01 Palaeontology and Palaeoecology 6.0

Course unit organization
Period First semester
Year 2nd Year
Teaching method frontal

Type of hours Credits Teaching
Hours of
Individual study
Laboratory 0.33 5 3.25 No turn
Lecture 5.67 45 96.75 No turn

Start of activities 01/10/2018
End of activities 18/01/2019

Examination board
Board From To Members of the board
5 Commissione 2018/19 01/12/2018 30/11/2019 CAPRARO LUCA (Presidente)
FORNACIARI ELIANA (Membro Effettivo)
4 Commissione 2017/18 01/12/2017 30/11/2018 CAPRARO LUCA (Presidente)
FORNACIARI ELIANA (Membro Effettivo)

Prerequisites: Basic knowledge acquired during the BSc course (general geology, sedimentary geology, paleontology, geomorphology...)
Target skills and knowledge: Students will achieve theoretical understanding of the dynamics of the present-day climate system, with a special emphasis on the roles of the atmosphere and the ocean, and will approach the main methods for investigating the mechanisms that controlled the functioning of the climate system in the geologic past. Of critical importance for the students will be developing a sound awareness of the impact of climate on the Earth system and the associated aftermaths on both the social and scientific levels.
Examination methods: Students' preparation will be ascertained by means of an oral, open-question exam, in order to gauge their ability to engender connections between different subjects and to establish critical and original approaches to the matter in question.
Assessment criteria: Students will be evaluated based on their knowledge of the subjects discussed during class, however of special importance will be their skill to prove independent and critical thinking capabilities. Self-managed integrations to the Course program, such as the reading of scientific papers and attendance to meetings focused on the matter, will also be appreciated and evaluated accordingly.
Course unit contents: Climate: defintions. The components of the climate system. Feedbacks and synergies. Climate thresholds and their reversibility. "Historical" approaches to the study of past climates. Climate forcing. Insolation and its effects on climate: energy balance of a perfect Blackbody radiator at changing CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. The hydrosphere. Water masses. Anatomy of the oceans: marine currents, vertical and horizontal flows. The global circulation system. Circulation in the Mediterranean basin: genesis of the main water masses and basin budgets. The atmosphere. Ocean-atmosphere coupling. The monsoon system: origins and outcomes. The main short-term climate oscillations (AO, NAO, AMO, ENSO). Archives of past climates: trees, corals, ice caps, sediments.
Climate proxies. Stable isotopes: basics of isotope fractionation. Isotopic standards and the δ notation. Stable oxygen isotopes. Equilibrium fractionation in the water cycle. Rayleigh distillation: latitude and altitude effects. Stable oxygen isotopes as paleothermometers. Paleotemperatures and the glacial effect. Isotope stratigraphy (MIS). Stable carbon isotopes. Carbon reservoirs and flux mechanisms. The geochemical carbon cycle: hydrolisis and dissolution of rocks. The biochemical carbon cycle: d13C and life. d13C in the oceans: vertical and horizontal distributions.
Systems theory: linear and chaotic systems. The Poincaré problem and Lorenz attactor. Lyapunov time and the stability of the solar system. The minkavovian theory of climate. Spectral analysis: periodograms and wavelets. The Pleistocene System, a paradigm of natural climate changes: evolution of climate cycles and glacial dynamics. Forcing-response variability: consistency and inconsistencies. Hypotheses on the onset/demise of major glacial cycles in the Pleistocene. Mediterranean sapropels and their chronostratigraphic distribution: an independent tool for dating stratigraphic successions. Astrochronology and astrocyclestratigraphy. History of climate. The key climatic events in the geologic past: the Great Oxygenation Event, the Snowball Earth, the Creatceous hyperthermal period. Climate during the Cenozoic: from the Greenhouse world to the Quaternary glaciations. High-frequency climate variability: Dansgaard-Oeschger cycles, Bond cycles, Heinrich events. The "Climate surprises”.
Planned learning activities and teaching methods: Lectures will be integrated by a field trip aimed at observing the sedimentary response to some of the climate events discussed during the Course.
Additional notes about suggested reading: Teaching material (ppt presentations and selected scientific papers) will be uploaded to the Moodle e-learning platform.
Textbooks (and optional supplementary readings)
  • Ruddiman, William F., Earth's climatepast and futureWilliam F. Ruddiman. New York: W. H. Freeman & Co, 2014. Cerca nel catalogo
  • Bradley, Raymond S., Paleoclimatologyreconstructing climates of the QuaternaryRaymond S. Bradley. San Diego \etc.!: Academic press, --. Cerca nel catalogo
  • Cronin, Thomas M., Paleoclimatesunderstanding climate change past and presentThomas M. Cronin. New York: Columbia University press, 2009. Cerca nel catalogo

Innovative teaching methods: Teaching and learning strategies
  • Lecturing
  • Laboratory
  • Problem based learning
  • Case study
  • Questioning
  • Problem solving
  • Active quizzes for Concept Verification Tests and class discussions
  • Loading of files and pages (web pages, Moodle, ...)

Innovative teaching methods: Software or applications used
  • Moodle (files, quizzes, workshops, ...)
  • Top Hat (active quiz, quiz)
  • MapleTA (scientific quizzes)

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Good Health and Well-Being Quality Education Affordable and Clean Energy Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure Sustainable Cities and Communities Responsible Consumption and Production Climate Action Life Below Water Life on Land