cod. 19374

Academic year 2019/20
1° year of course - First semester
- Alessandro PETRAGLIA - Giuliana VILLA
Academic discipline
Paleontologia e paleoecologia (GEO/01)
Attività formative affini o integrative
Type of training activity
55 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

The course aims to provide students with the tools to identify the main causes and dynamics of climate evolution on our Planet during the geological time. The information is based on the most recent developments in paleoclimatology, through the knowledge of the phenomena that regulate the present day climate which, transported over time, is a key to the reconstruction and evolution of the environments and the climate of the past in a chronological framework. Paleoclimatology provides, finally, useful elements for mathematical modeling for the projections of the climate in a future perspective


basic knowledge of geology and stratigraphy

Course unit content

The educational offer of the course is divided into: lessons aimed at the basic definition of the topics covered such as the insolation and its effects on the Earth, the atmospheric and oceanic circulation, the role of the polar ice caps, the orbital parameters, the greenhouse effect and the role of the carbon cycle on the Earth's climate; changes in sea level linked to climate change, the main proxies used to reconstruct the climate of the past.
The acquisition of these concepts allows the student to understand the mechanisms that have influenced and guided the history of the earth's climate and, in particular, for the last 250 Ma; examining in greater detail the last 65 Ma and focusing on the main characteristics of the climatic changes of the last 2 ka

Full programme

Introduction to the climate and thermal balancing
Sea water features
Atmospheric and oceanic circulation
El Nino
Deep ocean circulation
Cryosphere -
Archives and proxy introduction-
General concepts on stable isotopes
Oxygen isotopes as paleoclimate proxy and stratigraphy
Carbon Cycle, Carbon Isotopes , Clatrates, primary productivity
Other Proxies
Astronomical control of radiation
Planet evolution and Faint Sun Paradox
Snowball Earth Hypothesis
 Mesozoic: Pangea-Trias
Mesozoic: Jurassic climate
 Mesozoic: Climate of the Cretaceous
Cenozoic: Paleocene-Eocene climate: hyperthermals.
The transition from Greenhouse to Icehouse
Cenozoic: Climate of the Oligocene-Miocene,
Cenozoic; Climate of the Pliocene: the roleof the Panama Strait
Messinian: Mediterranean Sea evolution, Salinity Crisis
Astronomical theory of the climate
Climate Pliocene and glaciations Pleistocene
Mid Pleistocene Revolution (MPR)
Mediterranean Sapropels: causes
Climatic changes and Humans
Heinrich events
Younger Dryas and Holocene
Global warming and the future


Earth's Climate- Ruddiman W.

"Paleoclimates" - Thomas M. Cronin

Material (slides, scientific articles) made available from the teacher

Teaching methods

The course will be divided into basic lectures aimed at defining a general theoretical framework and in lectures, always frontal, of an applicative nature focused on the presentation and discussion of case studies.

Assessment methods and criteria

The ability to process, integrate and communicate the knowledge of the student to third parties is verified, also through individual seminars held by the student in the classroom during the lessons, followed by a class debate. The seminar is prepared by the student through the use of bibliographic material provided by the teacher and multimedia support. The definitive acquisition of knowledge is verified by oral examination.
With the seminar 4 points are acquired; the oral exam is divided into n. 4 questions for a total of 26 points, depending on the difficulty. Lodeis gained with a score equal to or greater than 33.

Other information

Information are associated with
the relative "Dublin Indicators" (DI) that characterize their purposes.
Dublin Indicators:
- Knowledge and understanding;
- Applying knowledge and understanding;
- Making judgements;
- Communication skills;
- Learning skills.