Earth systems

The goal of this course is to provide to students a general understanding of the dynamics of the planet
identifying the principles of a responsible and sustainable management of the environment. It is described in a integrated way the fluxes of energy and resources at a global scale and the main impacts of mankind in the planet. Special emphasis is given to water resources, namely in what respects the urban water cycle, to
oceans, soils, ecosystems and biodiversity. It is briefly analyzed the contributions of science and technology to sustainability.

The Earth System: Energy and materials cycles. The planet resources.Ecosystems and biodiversity: Structure, composition and functioning of the different types of Earth ecosystems. Energy and resources exchanges.
Earth’s ecosystems productivity. Population and communities.Biodiversity, trophic structures and ecological
The water cycle: Water uses & other pressures on resources. The millennium goals & the sustainable use of
water. The impacts of climate change on the water cycle & on resources.
The urban water cycle (water suplly, wastewater and stormwater drainage and treatamentpollution control)
Soils & desertification: The rock cycle. Physical and chemical weathering processes. Erosion & sediment
transport. Soil conservation. Non-point source pollution and soil & water contamination.
The ocean system: Earth oceans and seas. Ocean dynamics forcing factors. The ocean carbon balance. The upwelling phenomenon. Tides, waves regime and storm surges. Coastal erosion & protection.