University of Maryland-College Park
Life on Earth: How Biology Built a Planet (and vice versa) part of Cutting Edge:Course Design:Goals Database
The history of Earth and the history of life are intricately intertwined through climatological, geochemical, and biochemical conceptions. The evolution of Earth systems in deep time, a time frame that extends across nearly 3/4 of Earth's history, was influenced by external factors such as the infall of cometary material and the intensity of solar luminosity change as well as internal feedbacks between the oceans, the atmosphere, and the solid Earth. Changes in Earth's earliest environments also occurred as a result of biological innovation and widespread microbiological activity. In the past five years, the sector of Earth science that deals with early Earth studies has been incredibly dynamic, with new findings published almost weekly in major scientific journals such as Science and Nature. Using selections from the recent peer-reviewed literature and from other accessible texts, this course will provide an introduction to the origin and evolution of Earth's early atmosphere, oceans, and early greenhouse condition. We will examine the geological evidence for microbial innovation and its interconnections with Earth's early environments. We will evaluate evidence for changes in Earth's surface environments from a perspective that draws on the geological, geochemical, and biological records of Earth materials, and will reconcile these records with models of planetary radiation balance, and solar system evolution.
Early Career 2009 Participants: Leader