Exploring the World through Earth Science
Earth science is defined as the study of the Earth, as the name implies. It also studies the Earth's relationship with its neighbors in space. It is also known as geoscience, which is a combination of two terms, "geo-" meaning "earth," and "science." Earth science helps in appreciating the four "spheres" of the Earth. These are the lithosphere (rocky part of the Earth), hydrosphere (watery part), atmosphere (gaseous part), and biosphere (life). Considering these concepts, one may say that this field has a very wide scope, using other disciplines like physics, chemistry, and biology to further study earth science.
With the four "spheres" in mind, one may say that there are four main earth sciences. These are geology, meteorology, oceanography, and astronomy.
Geology studies the composition of the Earth materials and structures. This also describes Earth processes and interactions of different organisms in the planet, which is much related to biology. There are many subdisciplines under geology, including mineralogy (study of minerals), petrology (study of rocks), geochemistry, geomorphology, paleontology, structural geology, and sedimentology. As observed in these subdisciplines, one may say that geology also tackles the history of the Earth. Geologists also seek to understand ways on how to conserve the Earth through these subdisciplines.
Meanwhile, meteorology refers to the study of the atmosphere and changes it undergoes. This includes climate and weather. It does not refer to the study of the meteors, as this is included in astronomy. Meteorologists also study how weather disturbances such as hurricanes and storms, tornadoes, and pressure areas are formed and how these disturbances affect the Earth. Climate change is also being studied in meteorology, which is crucial in protecting the environment. Subdisciplines under meteorology include climatology, atmospheric chemistry, and atmospheric physics.
On the other hand, oceanography discusses the composition, movement, organisms, and processes in the oceans of the Earth. These oceans cause changes in the weather and therefore can contribute to climate change. Oceanographers, scientists who study the oceans, continue to work on ways to study the impact of the oceans to the environment. Subdisciplines under this include hydrogeology, and physical, chemical, and biological oceanography.
Astronomy refers to the study of the universe. It deals with the celestial objects such as planets, stars, comets, meteors, nebulae, and galaxies, and various phenomena involving these objects. However, as an earth science, astronomy discusses the relationship of the Earth to the celestial objects, especially the sun and the moon. In fact, the moon causes tidal changes in the Earth while the heat from the sun also has effects on the Earth as well. Subdisciplines under astronomy are planetary astronomy, solar astronomy, stellar astronomy, galactic astronomy, extragalactic astronomy, and cosmology.
There are other subfields or Earth sciences. These include the following: soil science that deals with the outermost layer of the Earth, the crust, and the processes involved; glaciology, which deals with the icy layers of the earth; geophysics and geodesy, which concentrates on the shape of the earth and its reaction to forces; and in some references, physical geography, which comprises biogeography, geomorphology, oceanography, and climatology.
Most people say that Earth sciences are interesting and exciting. In fact, people can easily relate to what the geoscientists say probably due to practical information and application these sciences offer. For instance, as mentioned earlier, knowing the state of the Earth's climate and its changes throughout the years will help everyone understand its impact to living organisms in the long run. Understanding concepts and principles being taught by the earth sciences may enable every individual to make a stand to explore the world and protect the only planet, so far, that supports life.
Websites For Learning All About Earth Science
- Earth Balloon
- Earth Fact Sheet
- Exploration of the Earth's Magnetosphere
- Nebraska Earth Science Education Network
- Plate Tectonics