The Department of Natural Environmental Studies largely comprises two divisions: Terrestrial Environmental Studies and Marine Environmental Studies. Profound interrelationships exist between the land where we humans live and the oceans covering 70 percent of the earth's surface. Accordingly, our department's goal is to foster environmental scientists who can understand the earth's environment through an integrated, global-scale perspective of the terrestrial and marine environments.
In the terrestrial environment, humans and all sorts of other living organisms engage in life activity in biospheres formed by the land, air, and water. The various forest, grassland, and desert habitats created by nature have made possible the evolution of diverse life forms and have thus given rise to close interrelationships within ecosystems, which in turn have been exploited by humans as natural resources. The cities, farming communities, fishing villages, mountain hamlets, and other spaces produced by humans are superimposed on the platform of nature, and it is the robust system of interrelationships between these two worlds that has allowed humankind to enjoy a sustainable existence. Today's global environmental problems are a forewarning that this system is, whether gradually or rapidly, starting to break down around the planet. Global warming, air pollution, deterioration of aquatic environments, natural disasters, desertification and other ecosystem disruptions, the decline in biodiversity, and the transformation of our communities' environments and landscapes are all critical problems that threaten human existence and well-being. Our Terrestrial Environmental Studies division works to solve these challenges by investigating the structures of the atmospheric, hydrospheric, and geospheric environments, the short- and long-term fluctuations of those environments, forest ecosystems, the structures and functions of biodiversity and symbiosis, natural and urban environments, landscapes, and human interaction with these elements. The interactions between natural environments and human activity are examined from the perspectives of nature, culture, and society, at different scales ranging from local to regional and global. Moreover, comprehensive analyses and assessments are performed from a variety of angles based on field studies, experiments, and theories, with the goal of developing strategies to reshape human activity into patterns that preserve the environment and enable sustainable use of resources.
The Terrestrial Environmental Studies group implements an extensive program of natural environment research and education to train students to be able to comprehensively explore the natural environment and marine environments, and put their findings to use in society. This program is founded on a platform of field science that that is conducted inside and outside Japan using university forests and a variety of field research/educational facilities.
The oceans are home to a diverse collection of life forms that includes not only bottom dwellers but also organisms that spend their entire existence in the sea. In contrast with terrestrial life forms, marine organisms are able to exploit the deep, expansive reaches of the ocean as a three-dimensional habitat. The marine environment, however, is not monolithic; since sunlight illuminates only the upper layers, the vast majority of the ocean is cast in darkness. The constantly circulating currents existing around the globe transport heat and dissolved matter, with the effect of mitigating the temperature differences between northern and southern regions. Given that the zones of the ocean- littoral, pelagic, superficial, profundal, and benthic-are each composed of a different set of species, it is easy to comprehend that the marine environment as a whole encompasses an immense diversity of life. Although humankind has benefitted from the bounty of the life-giving oceans and the services derived from them, it has also exerted enormous negative impacts upon the sea, including the depletion of biological resources from overharvesting, the creation of red tides due to eutrophication, and bioaccumulation of manmade contaminants. As such, protection of the marine environment has become an urgent task, all the more so when one considers that the ocean is a key to tracing the history of the earth and life, and is deeply intertwined with the global environmental issues and food problems now confronting civilization. The Marine Environmental Studies group researches fluctuations in oceanic crust formation and the global environment, the dynamics of marine biological resources, the expression of biodiversity, changes in the physical environment, solid earth dynamics, the chemical makeup of matter cycles and the marine environment, the evolution and environmental adaptation of life, and the preservation and management of marine life.
Centered upon ship-based field studies, the Marine Environmental Studies program of comprehensive research and education on the oceanic environment is designed to shape students into internationally oriented scientists who are well-versed in marine-terrestrial environment interrelationships and oceanic mechanisms, and possess the skills needed to pursue and solve challenges pertaining to marine environment systems.
Terrestrial Environmental Studies:
Natural Environmental Structures
Natural Environmental Changes
Biosphere Information Science
Evaluation of Natural Environment
Natural Environment Formation
Numerical Modelling for Global Environmental Issues (Transdisciplinary Initiative for Global Sustainability)
Environmental Information Science (Center for Spatial Information Science)
Marine Environmental Studies:
Global Marine Management
Marine Resources and Environment
Marine Biosphere Environment
Marine Environmental Dynamics (Ocean Research Institute)
Marine Biogeochemical Cycles (Ocean Research Institute)
Marine Life Science and Environment (Ocean Research Institute)