The earth can be divided into one of the four main subsystems, namely: earth, water, air and all living things. These categories are called spheres and are the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere, respectively. The first three of these spheres are abiotic, meaning that they are not living things, while the fourth – the biosphere – contains all biotic or living creatures and organisms (everything from plants to animals to bacteria).
Earth’s atmosphere, which we simply call “air”, is actually made up of a mixture of gases and vapors. Earth’s atmosphere forms a barrier, or bubble, around Earth, and is held there by the force of gravity. This prevents vapors from the atmosphere from escaping into outer space. It is also this atmosphere that makes the earth habitable. The combination of chemicals in the air, along with the way the atmosphere creates a barrier between the Earth and the sun’s harmful rays, creates an environment in which animals, plants, and human life can thrive.
The atmosphere can be separated and identified into several of its own layers, including 5: the troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere and exosphere. The troposphere is the layer that contains the majority of the atmosphere and is closest to the earth’s surface. It is also the area in which most organic life on Earth lives. The other layers extend outward from the surface and are encompassed by the last layer, the Exosphere, before our atmosphere completely dissolves into outer space.
The Earth’s atmosphere is actually mostly nitrogen, with a composition of 78 percent. The second most common gas in our atmosphere is oxygen, which accounts for 21%, and is the most important for human and animal life. The third most important gas is argon, which is only 0.9%. This leaves the remaining 1%, which is classified as “other” because no gas is dominant enough to be significant. However, this “other” section includes water vapor, neon, carbon dioxide, and methane.
The hydrosphere is the aquatic sphere of the Earth. This includes the total amount of water that can be found all over the planet, starting from that on the surface – such as in lakes, oceans, rivers, etc., as well as groundwater and in the air. . Because it includes all water, it also means that it includes water that is in liquid, vapor, or solid (i.e. ice) form.
The first type of water that people think of the most is liquid water. It can be seen in a variety of places and shapes across the earth. Everything from lakes and seas to streams, lagoons, rivers, streams and springs, are forms of liquid water that connect to form the hydrosphere. There is also a whole underground water system which is also in liquid form. This water is generally accessible via aquifers, natural sources or wells. The underground water system is known as the water table and contains all types of water trapped below the surface. Groundwater fills the spaces between sediments and rocks, creating pockets of trapped water. Often times, these pockets are exploited by humans through pipelines and wells, but in some cases water naturally finds its way to the surface via springs and the like. This natural water source is also extremely useful for large plants like trees, which need much more water than they can absorb by rain and atmospheric humidity.
Water vapor is any type of water that has evaporated and now assumes a gaseous state. This includes things like fog and clouds. Water vapor is an integral part of the water cycle. When liquid water evaporates, it turns into gas and becomes part of the atmosphere. Here it can be redistributed to other parts of the world. For example, a puddle of water – liquid – can be dried up in the sun, forcing the water molecules to change and evaporate. Now, in the form of gas, they form a cloud. This cloud is then blown into the air, where it collects more moisture until the cloud becomes so heavy with water vapor that the vapor becomes liquid again, falling back to the earth’s surface as rain.
Water in its solid form can be seen on earth as ice. This includes everything from polar ice caps to frozen lakes and bays, frost, snow, glaciers and icebergs. This hydrosphere protein may actually be underlying what is called the cryosphere. While the cryosphere may not be the first thing associated with water and the hydrosphere in general, it does play an important role in the larger system. It helps regulate the global climate and is home to a variety of animals that depend on this frozen world for a living.
The lithosphere is the “earth” or terrestrial part of the Earth. It refers more specifically to the rocky outer surface of the earth’s crust and the upper part of the mantle. The Earth itself is divided into several layers: the crust, the upper and main mantle, the outer core and the inner core. Although all of this is from Earth, only the most solid upper part is included in the lithosphere. This means that it is the generally solid and low viscosity part, as opposed to the more liquid melted bottom layers. The lithosphere is the land on which biological life – that is, the biosphere – exists.
The biosphere is the sphere of the earth which includes all organic and living life. Whether this life is found on the earth’s surface, in the atmosphere, or underground, it is part of the larger biosphere system that makes up life on this planet. In this way, the biosphere merges with the other three spheres of the Earth. The range of the biosphere is believed to be around 20 kilometers, or 12 miles from its highest point, to its deepest point. Generally speaking, however, most of life on Earth is much closer to the surface and is found about 500 meters or 1,640 feet below sea level and 6 kilometers or 3.75 miles above. the surface of the ocean.
From the highest mountain to the deepest ocean, all organic life is part of the biosphere. This includes all types of life, from insects and fungi, to animals and birds, to plants and organisms like bacteria. This life is then divided into a series of classifications: kingdoms, phylum, classes, orders, families, genus, and species. There are 5 different kingdoms, known as: animal, plant, fungus, protist and monera, and all of them encompass the entire biosphere. The large biosphere is then broken down into biomes and ecosystems, which are more specific working systems of animals and plants in a given area. Together they form a complex web of life which, when held in balance, allows our Earth to function in harmony.