Environmental Science 101
Earth Systems

Earth Systems

A System is:
- a regularly interacting or independent group of items forming a unified whole.
- a group of related interacting bodies under the influence of related forces.
Open System: A system that interacts with other systems or items outside of the system.
Closed System: A system that does not interact with other systems or items outside of the closed system.

Earth Systems

Geosphere - the solid Earth (Geology, Geography, Geoscience)
Atmosphere – the gaseous Earth (Meteorology, Climatology)
Hydrosphere – the water Earth (Hydrology, Oceanography)
Biosphere – the living Earth (Biology, Life Sciences)

Earth Systems: Geosphere

Geology: The study of the planet Earth – the materials of which it is made, the processes that act on these materials, the products formed, and the history of the planet and its life forms since it origin. Geology considers the physical forces that act on the Earth, the chemistry of its materials, and the biology of it past inhabitants as revealed by fossils. – American Geological Institute, Glossary of Geology
Geography: Geography is the science of space and place on the Earth's surface. Its subject matter is the physical and human phenomena that make up the world's environments and places. Geographers describe the changing patterns of places in words, maps, and geo-graphics, explain how these patterns come to be, and unravel their meaning. Geography's continuing quest is to understand the physical and cultural features of places and their natural settings on the surface of Earth. – National Geography Standards, 1994

Earth Materials

Minerals: A naturally occurring, inorganic solid with a definite chemical composition and a regular internal crystalline structure.
Rocks: A solid, natural, cohesive aggregate of one or more minerals, mineraloids, glass, biologic particles or rock fragments.
- Igneous, Sedimentary, Metamorphic
Rock Cycle: graphic representation (model) showing how the major rock groups are related by processes of formation.

Interior Structure

Ocean (Hydrosphere)
Crust (Continental, Oceanic)
Mantle (Upper, Lower)
Core (Outer, Inner)
Magnetic field (Outer)
- Environmental Importance:

Plate Tectonics

Crust is broken into large, rigid lithospheric plates; plates are free to move.
Environmental Importance:

Earth Systems: Atmosphere

Meteorology: The science dealing with the atmosphere and its phenomena. A distinction can be drawn between meteorology and climatology, the latter being primarily concerned with average atmospheric conditions, not actual weather conditions.
Weather: current state of the atmosphere
Climate: aggregate atmospheric conditions; long-term average weather

Earth Systems: Hydrosphere

Hydrology: The study of the movement, distribution, and quality of water on Earth and other planets, including the hydrologic cycle, water resources and watershed sustainability.
Oceanography: The study of the physical and biological aspects of the ocean, including marine ecosystem dynamics, geophysical fluid dynamics (ocean currents, waves), geology of the sea floor, and marine chemical substance cycles.

Earth Systems: Biosphere

Biology: Life Sciences: The study of life and living organisms, including their physical structure, chemical composition, function, development and evolution.