Earth System Science

The Chesapeake Bay watershed encompasses 64,000 square miles across six states. While this may seem vast, the watershed is also part of much larger and interconnected Earth systems. These systems shape the weather we experience, the climate we live in and many of the biological, physical and chemical processes that drive environmental conditions in the Bay and throughout its watershed.

Earth Systems Science crosses multiple disciplines such as, chemistry, physics, biology and mathematics to understand the interactions that determine the past, present and future states of the Earth. Many Earth Systems Science models break Earth systems down into four primary spheres, the atmosphere (air), hydrosphere (water), geosphere/lithosphere (land) and biosphere (plants and animals). The interactions between these systems shape the physical and natural environment of the Earth, including the Bay region. It is important to understand the various processes that make up Earth systems and how they are connected in order to understand how humans influence these global systems and predict changes in climate, weather, and the landscape.



The atmosphere is a mixture of nitrogen, oxygen and other gases that surround the Earth, making it livable.

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Biosphere is a term used to describe our living world. All living things on Earth can be found inhabiting the biosphere, which extends to the upper reaches of the atmosphere.

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Earth System Science is a multidisciplinary approach to understanding climate and weather patterns, the landscape and how human behavior influences global systems.

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The geosphere or lithosphere is the mostly rocky, solid part of the Earth including the crust, mantle and core.

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The hydrosphere is the total amount of water on the planet in solid, liquid and gas form. Water in the hydrosphere is continuously in motion, moving through what is commonly known as the water cycle.

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