The 4 Spheres

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Information about The 4 Spheres

Published on March 1, 2014

Author: littlevagabond



An introduction to the 4 spheres that make up the interconnected global systems of the earth: the lithosphere, the atmosphere, the hydrosphere and the biosphere.

Learning Goals: • To understand the structure of o the atmosphere o the biosphere o the lithosphere, o hydrosphere • To understand how the three spheres interacts with each other

What is the difference between weather and climate? How would you define them?

WEATHER: the state of the atmosphere at a particular place and time (i.e. the weather in Redcliffe right now) CLIMATE: The average weather conditions of a certain region (i.e. the climate in Redcliffe includes hot humid summers and mild dry winters) What is the major difference between the two?

The earth can be divided up into four spheres that interact with each other: The Atmosphere The Biosphere The Lithosphere The Hydrosphere Can anyone guess what each is?

(air) (life) (earth) (water)

• The Earth is surrounded by a blanket of air, which we call the atmosphere • The atmosphere consists of four unique layers • The atmosphere reaches over 560 kilometers up from the surface of the Earth • The atmosphere is primarily composed of nitrogen and oxygen

• The biosphere is the zone of life on the Earth. It includes • all living organisms (including humans) • all organic matter that has not yet decomposed • The biosphere is structured into a hierarchy known as the food chain • Energy and mass is transferred from one level of the food chain to the next

• The lithosphere includes the crust and the uppermost mantle; the hard and rigid outer layer of the Earth • The lithosphere is about 100 km thick • The lithosphere below the crust is brittle enough at some locations to produce earthquakes

• The hydrosphere contains all the water found on our planet. • Water on the surface (oceans, lakes and rivers, streams, and creeks) • Water under the surface of our planet (water trapped in the soil, groundwater) • Water vapour in the atmosphere Only about 3% of the water on Earth is “fresh” water, and about 70% of the fresh water is frozen in the form of glacial ice. • Frozen water (ice caps and glaciers)

System Interactions Volcanoes (__________) erupt, sending ash and gases into the air (___________) and sending lava and ash down onto surrounding forests (_________) and human habitations (_________). Lithosphere Atmosphere Biosphere

Hurricanes (__________) sweep across the ocean (__________) and onto the land (__________), damaging the dwellings of people (__________) who live along the coast. Hydrosphere Atmosphere Lithosphere Biosphere

Earthquakes (__________) can damage buildings which may kill people (__________), as well as cause fires which release gases into the air (__________). Earthquakes in the ocean may cause a tsunami (__________) which can eventually hit land and kill both animals and people (__________). Biosphere Lithosphere Atmosphere Hydrosphere

Learning Goals: • What do we mean when we say: o the lithosphere? o the atmosphere? o hydrosphere?

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