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Earth Science Systems


The Earth System

This video describes the four main components of the Earth system (atmosphere, biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere), how matter is exchanged between the components, and how a change in some aspect of one part of the system will result in changes in other system components. We describe the Earth system in terms of reservoirs and flux between them and discuss how the movement of carbon occurs between system components.

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Earth System Science 1: Intro to ESS. Lecture 1. Introduction and the Scientific Method

UCI ESS 1: Introduction to Earth System Science (Fall 2013)
Lec 01. Introduction to Earth System Science -- Introduction and the Scientific Method --
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Instructor: Julie Ferguson, Ph.D.

License: Creative Commons CC-BY-SA
Terms of Use:
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Description: Earth System Science covers the following topics: the origin and evolution of the Earth, atmosphere, oceans, perspective of biogeochemical cycles, energy use, and human impacts on the Earth system.

Recorded on September 27, 2013

Required attribution: Ferguson, Julie. Introduction to Earth System Science 1 (UCI OpenCourseWare: University of California, Irvine), [Access date]. License: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 United States License. (

Earth Systems Science

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A brief overview to the area of Earth Systems Science where we will be looking at the different spheres that make up Earth as a complex adaptive system.

Earth systems science is the interdisciplinary study of earth as a complex system, composed of multiple physical and biological process that interact within cycles or spheres to give rise to the overall state of the earth as an entire systems.

Of cause people have been studying earth for a long time, geologies study the formation of rocks, metrologies are interested in the atmosphere and so on,
With all of these different domains supported by the deep understanding of our physical environment that physics has built up over the past few centuries.

But it is only more recently that satellites have started to allow us to see earth as an entirety and human activity has begun to have a significant enough effect to alter earth systems making it increasingly important for us to be able to model and manage them.

From space we can view the net results of earths complex interactions and with high-tech sensors on land and in the ocean, we are getting an clear idea of its overall make up, from this researchers in different domains are discovering how their pieces of the puzzle are related to each other.

Earth systems science then tries to develop models that gives an integrated picture of how all these parts fit together, the first of these models is of earth as a systems in space with inputs and outputs of energy or radiation from the sun, with this energy being the primary factor in driving the dynamics process within the system.

As opposed to focusing on the static properties of earths individual components
Earth systems science instead takes a more dynamic view of the world, studying the ways energy and materials cycle through the different subsystems or what are called -spheres

Earths different sphere are largely defined by the different phases of mater they are composed of thus the atmosphere is composed of gasses, the hydrosphere of liquid water and the lithosphere solid minerals added to this is the biosphere
The sum of all biological material and processes.

Within each sphere a process called a cycles take place, for example in the lithosphere we have the rock cycle driven by the thermal energy within earth's interior that releases minerals through ocean ridges and volcanoes that are weathered as they cycle through earths crust and are eventual subducted returning to their origin

The hydro cycle driven by the thermal energy of the sun, cycles water between the earths surface and atmosphere through the process of evaporation, condensation and precipitation, this process helps to distribute moisture to support ecosystems at a variety of locations

The atmosphere is a layer of gases surrounding the planet that is held in place by gravity, it is the primary vehicle of temperature and climate regulation through the Cycle of carbon in and out of the atmosphere where it functions, through the green house effect to trap the suns heart.

The biosphere is the relatively thin layer of Earth's surface that supports all biological activity on earth. The biosphere is a system also characterized by the continuous cycling of matter and energy in the form of the flow of solar energy and nutrient mineral cycles.

Solar energy flows through the biosphere along a unidirectional path, as the suns energy is inputted through plant photosynthesis and process up through what are called trophic levels form primary producers to herbivores and on to predators and apex predators.

Along side the flow of energy through food webs it the cycling of mineral nutrients the core substances required for the construction of biological materials and processes, carbon, water, oxygen, nitrogen have been continuously cycled through the biosphere from one generation to the next for billions of years

These different spheres interact to create a unique state or ecosystem, an ecosystems is the combination of a community of biological organism and a particular physical environment with which they interact...

Four Spheres Part 1 (Geo and Bio): Crash Course Kids #6.1

In this episode of Crash Course Kids, Sabrina talks about two of the four spheres that make up our planet; The Geosphere and the Biosphere. What's in these spheres? How do they affect us? How do they fit into the puzzle that is Earth? All is contained within!

This first series is based on 5th grade science. We're super excited and hope you enjoy Crash Course Kids!

///Standards Used in This Video///
5-ESS2-1. Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact. [Clarification Statement: Examples could include the influence of the ocean on ecosystems, landform shape, and climate; the influence of the atmosphere on landforms and ecosystems through weather and climate; and the influence of mountain ranges on winds and clouds in the atmosphere. The geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere are each a system.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to the interactions of two systems at a time.]

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Executive Producers: John & Hank Green
Producer & Editor: Nicholas Jenkins
Cinematographer & Director: Michael Aranda
Host: Sabrina Cruz
Script Supervisor: Mickie Halpern
Writer: Ben Kessler
Consultant: Shelby Alinsky
Script Editor: Blake de Pastino

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Nick Counter
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James Tuer
Adam Winnik

Earth Science Systems

After viewing this video, the viewer should be familiar with the interaction of the geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere, and how events in one effect the others.

Earth Systems in 2 Minutes

The earth is a system of complex interactions.

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Source: article, adapted under license.

Earth system science (ESS) is the application of systems science to the Earth sciences. In particular, it considers interactions between the Earth's spheres—atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, geosphere, pedosphere, biosphere, and, even, the magnetosphere—as well as the impact of human societies on these components. At its broadest scale, Earth system science brings together researchers across both the natural and social sciences, from fields including ecology, economics, geology, glaciology, meteorology, oceanography, paleontology, sociology, and space science. Like the broader subject of systems science, Earth system science assumes a holistic view of the dynamic interaction between the Earth's spheres and their many constituent subsystems, the resulting organization and time evolution of these systems, and their stability or instability. Subsets of Earth system science include systems geology and systems ecology, and many aspects of Earth system science are fundamental to the subjects of physical geography and climate science.

The Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, offers the following description: Earth system science embraces chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics and applied sciences in transcending disciplinary boundaries to treat the Earth as an integrated system. It seeks a deeper understanding of the physical, chemical, biological and human interactions that determine the past, current and future states of the Earth. Earth system science provides a physical basis for understanding the world in which we live and upon which humankind seeks to achieve sustainability.

For millennia, humans have speculated how the physical and living elements on the surface of the Earth combine, with gods and goddesses frequently posited to embody specific elements. The notion that the Earth, itself, is alive was a regular theme of Greek philosophy and religion. Early scientific interpretations of the Earth system began in the field of geology, initially in the Middle East and China, and largely focused on aspects such as the age of the Earth and the large-scale processes involved in mountain and ocean formation. As geology developed as a science, understanding of the interplay of different facets of the Earth system increased, leading to the inclusion of factors such as the Earth's interior, planetary geology and living systems.

In many respects, the foundational concepts of Earth system science can be seen in the holistic interpretations of nature promoted by the 19th century geographer Alexander von Humboldt. In the 20th century, Vladimir Vernadsky (1863-1945) saw the functioning of the biosphere as a geological force generating a dynamic disequilibrium, which in turn promoted the diversity of life. In the mid-1960s, James Lovelock first postulated a regulatory role for the biosphere in feedback mechanisms within the Earth system. Initially named the Earth Feedback hypothesis, Lovelock later renamed it the Gaia hypothesis, and subsequently further developed the theory with American evolutionary theorist Lynn Margulis during the 1970s. In parallel, the field of systems science was developing across numerous other scientific fields, driven in part by the increasing availability and power of computers, and leading to the development of climate models that began to allow the detailed and interacting simulations of the Earth's weather and climate. Subsequent extension of these models has led to the development of Earth system models (ESMs) that include facets such as the cryosphere and the biosphere.

As an integrative field, Earth system science assumes the histories of a vast range of scientific disciplines, but as a discrete study it evolved in the 1980s, particularly at NASA, where a committee called the Earth System Science Committee was formed in 1983. The earliest reports of NASA's ESSC, Earth System Science: Overview (1986), and the book-length Earth System Science: A Closer View (1988), constitute a major landmark in the formal development of Earth system science. Early works discussing Earth system science, like these NASA reports, generally emphasized the increasing human impacts on the Earth system as a primary driver for the need of greater integration among the life and geo-sciences, making the origins of Earth system science parallel to the beginnings of global change studies and programs.

Exploring Our Solar System: Planets and Space for Kids - FreeSchool

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Here is an in-depth introduction to the Solar System and the planets that are in it. From the sun to why poor Pluto is no longer considered a planet, come along for a ride across the Solar System and learn a ton of cool facts about Solar System! FreeSchool is great for kids!

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Big Idea 3: Earth's Systems Interact

Observe the events that show how Earth works as a set of interconnected systems.

Greatest Discoveries with Bill Nye Earth Science


E3SM: DOE’s New, State-of-the-Science Earth System Model

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today unveiled a powerful, new earth system model that uses the world’s fastest computers so that scientists can better understand how earth system processes interact today and how they may evolve in the future. The Energy Exascale Earth System model, or E3SM, is the product of four years of development by top geophysical and computational scientists across DOE’s laboratory complex. This video highlights the capabilities and goals of the E3SM project. For more information, visit

This video was made possible by the following individuals:

E3SM Model Simulations
Peter Bosler, Sandia National Laboratories
Peter Caldwell, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Chris Golaz, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Robert Jacob, Argonne National Laboratory
Noel Keen, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Jayesh Krishna, Argonne National Laboratory
Wuyin Lin, Brookhaven National Laboratory
Mathew Maltrud, Los Alamos National Laboratory
Azamat Mametjanov, Argonne National Laboratory
Qi Tang, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Luke Van Roekel, Los Alamos National Laboratory
Jon Wolfe, Los Alamos National Laboratory
And the rest of the E3SM Team

E3SM Project Team Leadership
Dorothy Koch, DOE Program Manager, Earth System Modeling
David Bader, Principal Investigator and Council Chair, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Ruby Leung, Chief Scientist, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Mark Taylor, Chief Computational Scientist, Sandia National Laboratories
Renata B McCoy, Project Engineer, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Philip Rasch, Council Member and Atmosphere Group Lead, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Shaocheng Xie, Atmosphere Group Lead, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Todd Ringler, Council Member and Ocean/Ice Group lead, Los Alamos National Laboratory
Stephen Price, Ocean/Ice Group Lead, Los Alamos National Laboratory
Peter E Thornton, Council Member and Land Group Lead, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
William J Riley, Council Member and Land Group Lead, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Kate Calvin, Land Group Lead, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Philip Jones, Council Member and Performance Group Lead, Los Alamos National Laboratory
Pat Worley, Performance Group Lead, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Robert Jacob, Council Member and Software Engineer/Coupler Group Lead, Argonne National Laboratory
Andrew G Salinger, Software Engineer/Coupler Group Lead, Sandia National Laboratories
Dean Williams, Council Member and Workflow Group Lead, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Valentine Anantharaj, Workflow Group Lead, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
James J Hack, Ex-officio Council Member, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
William Large, Ex-officio Council Member, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR)
Esmond G Ng, Ex-officio Council Member, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Earth 101 | National Geographic

Earth is the only planet known to maintain life. Find out the origins of our home planet and some of the key ingredients that help make this blue speck in space a unique global ecosystem.
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Earth 101 | National Geographic

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Earth Science Systems Climate Video Will Newbern and Jarod Swank

ESS2A - Earth Materials and Systems

In this video Paul Andersen describes the four major spheres on planet Earth. The geosphere makes up the mass of the planet and includes the major landforms. The hydrosphere is all of the water and the atmosphere is all of the gases. The biosphere exists where the others spheres interface. A K-12 teaching progression is also included.

Intro Music Atribution
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Artist: CosmicD
Link to sound:
Creative Commons Atribution License

All of the images are licensed under creative commons and public domain licensing:
File:Broccoli-tree.svg, n.d.
File:Clouds over the Atlantic Ocean.jpg. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed June 3, 2013.
File:Convection-snapshot.gif. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed June 3, 2013.
File:Diorite.jpg, n.d.
File:Earth Poster.svg. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed June 3, 2013.
File:Endeavour Silhouette STS-130.jpg. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, May 9, 2013.
File:Iceberg with Hole Near Sanderson Hope 2007-07-28 2.jpg. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, April 13, 2013.
File:Loboc River.png. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed June 3, 2013.
File:Meteoritenfund Auf Wüstenpflaster.jpg. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed June 3, 2013.
File:Pangaea Continents.svg. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed June 3, 2013.
File:Pinatubo Ash Plume 910612.jpg. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed June 3, 2013.
File:Rockcycle.jpg. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed June 3, 2013.
File:Seawifs Global Biosphere.jpg. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, June 3, 2013.
File:Shipot.jpg. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed June 3, 2013.
File:Siltstone1.jpg, n.d.
File:The Earth Seen from Apollo 17.jpg. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, June 3, 2013.
File:Top of Atmosphere.jpg. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, June 2, 2013.
File:Vostok Petit Data.svg. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed June 3, 2013.
Offiikart. English: Recycle Logo, June 8, 2011. Own work.

Why Earth Science?

Watch these 10 short videos explaining what we all should know about the science of the Earth — how the planet's land, water, air, and life systems interact. The American Geological Institute has developed these videos to bring to life the core concepts identified by the U.S. National Science Foundation-funded Earth Science Literacy Initiative ( For educational activities exploring each of the nine Big Ideas of Earth Science illustrated in the videos, visit Earth Science Week (

In Why Earth Science?, stunning video sequences and images illuminate the importance of knowing how Earth works and illustrate opportunities for careers in the Earth sciences.

Earth System Science

The video provides insight into the studies of the Earth System Science and shows the professional opportunities for Earth System Scientists.

Secrets of Our Universe and Solar System Planets - Space Science Documentary

Our Solar System, and all other star systems, form from a collapsing nebula. Often called stellar nurseries, nebulae are the birthplace of stars. They are made up of mostly hydrogen but also contain other matter like gases, dust, ice and rock. The gravity of the nebula pulls this matter into the centre, and the nebula experiences a gravitational collapse. If the compression raises the core temperature enough to reach thermonuclear fusion, the centre mass generates a protostar. This process takes about 10 million years.

Pressure-Hommocks Earth Science Department


Physical Science 9.2a - The Earth Moon Sun System

The Earth Moon Sun System. The orbit of the moon around the earth, the orbit of the earth around the sun, and a discussion of the relative sizes and distances. From the Physical Science course by Derek Owens.

Earth System Science 1: Intro to ESS. Lecture 9. The Rock Cycle and the Geological Timescale

UCI ESS 1: Introduction to Earth System Science (Fall 2013)
Lec 09. Introduction to Earth System Science -- The Rock Cycle and the Geological Timescale --
View the complete course:

Instructor: Julie Ferguson, Ph.D.

License: Creative Commons CC-BY-SA
Terms of Use:
More courses at

Description: Earth System Science covers the following topics: the origin and evolution of the Earth, atmosphere, oceans, perspective of biogeochemical cycles, energy use, and human impacts on the Earth system.

Recorded October 16, 2013.

Required attribution: Ferguson, Julie. Introduction to Earth System Science 1 (UCI OpenCourseWare: University of California, Irvine), [Access date]. License: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 United States License. (



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