Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on TwitterLooking back at my stint in the academe, I remember how students found Earth Science among those science subjects that were relatively easy to grasp. Perhaps the reason was because the discussions were usually about things that were readily observable. So what is Earth Science?
Earth Science, as the name suggests, is that body of knowledge that deals with everything about the Earth. That should include everything about its interior, its surface, the atmosphere that encapsulates it, and its invisible electromagnetic field.
Since we used the word ‘everything’, then certainly a discussion on Earth Science would cover a lot of topics from the different sciences. That’s right. You have to throw in all major branches of science, i.e., biology, chemistry, and physics, plus mathematics, to gain a deeper understanding of Earth Science.
Because of the shape of the Earth, that being a sphere, some teachers subdivide their discussions into the various ‘spheres’ that make up the planet. There’s the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere or geosphere.
Atmosphere refers to the layer of air that’s on top of us. It’s currently the center of attraction compared to all the other spheres, what with the controversies and heated arguments surrounding Global Warming and all. Topics that may be discussed when talking about the atmosphere may include atmospheric chemistry, climatology, meteorology, and paleoclimatology.
The lithosphere is the outermost shell of planet Earth, comprised of the crust and the upper portion of the mantle. It includes the soil we walk on, the mountains we scale, and the valleys that contain our crops. Much of the interesting discussions of this sphere include the action-packed lectures on earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and plate tectonics.
The hydrosphere includes marine life and everything about the bodies of water that contain them. A good understanding of the distribution and movement of groundwater, which belongs to this sphere, will allow us to harness usable water in the most efficient way.
Biosphere refers to the sphere of habitation on the planet. Parts of the planet where life exists is considered part of the biosphere. Thus, it would include portions of the atmosphere, lithosphere, and hydrosphere, as well as the interactions between all three that make living on this planet possible.
Have you started to think the answer to the question “What is Earth Science?” cannot be encapsulated in just one article? We couldn’t agree with you more. That is why we’ve got a growing collection of articles to satisfy that particular craving.
Here are some to get you started:
Here are the links of two more articles from USGS:
Main Types of Plate Boundaries
Understanding Plate Motions
Here are two episodes at Astronomy Cast that you might want to check out as well:
Volcanoes, Hot and Cold