Biofelsefe — Bioloji-İlgili Bilimler
NFA 2020 / Aziz Yardımlı

 

SİTELER

Biofelsefe — BİOLOJİ-İLGİLİ BİLİMLER

Aeronomy
Astrobiology
Atmospheric chemistry
Atmospheric science
Biochemistry
Biogeochemistry
Biogeography
Bioinformatics
Biological engineering
Biomechanics
Biophysics
Biotechnology
Climatology
Climatology, historical
Earth science
Earth system science
Ecology
Geography, physical
Geologic time scale
Geology
Geophysics
Hydrobiology
Hydrology
Meteorology
Oceanography
Paleoceanography
Paleoclimatology
Planetary science
Phytogeography
Zoogeography
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SİTE İÇİ ARAMA       
   
   
 

Earth's atmosphere.
A
Aeronomy

Aeronomy is the meteorological science of the upper region of the Earth's or other planetary atmospheres, which relates to the atmospheric motions, its chemical composition and properties, and the reaction to it from the environment from space. The term aeronomy was introduced by Sydney Chapman in a Letter to the Editor of Nature entitled Some Thoughts on Nomenclature in 1946. Studies within the subject also investigate the causes of dissociation or ionization processes.


Today the term also includes the science of the corresponding regions of the atmospheres of other planets. Aeronomy is a branch of atmospheric physics. Research in aeronomy requires access to balloons, satellites, and sounding rockets which provide valuable data about this region of the atmosphere. Atmospheric tides dominate the dynamics of the mesosphere and lower thermosphere, essential to understanding the atmosphere as a whole. Other phenomena studied are upper-atmospheric lightning discharges, such as red sprites, sprite halos or blue jets. (W)



Representation of upper-atmospheric lightning and electrical-discharge phenomena.



Astrobiology

Astrobiology, formerly known as exobiology, is an interdisciplinary scientific field concerned with the origins, early evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. Astrobiology considers the question of whether extraterrestrial life exists, and if it does, how humans can detect it.

Astrobiology makes use of molecular biology, biophysics, biochemistry, chemistry, astronomy, physical cosmology, exoplanetology and geology to investigate the possibility of life on other worlds and help recognize biospheres that might be different from that on Earth. The origin and early evolution of life is an inseparable part of the discipline of astrobiology. Astrobiology concerns itself with interpretation of existing scientific data, and although speculation is entertained to give context, astrobiology concerns itself primarily with hypotheses that fit firmly into existing scientific theories.


This interdisciplinary field encompasses research on the origin of planetary systems, origins of organic compounds in space, rock-water-carbon interactions, abiogenesis on Earth, planetary habitability, research on biosignatures for life detection, and studies on the potential for life to adapt to challenges on Earth and in outer space.


Biochemistry
may have begun shortly after the Big Bang, 13.8 billion years ago, during a habitable epoch when the Universe was only 10–17 million years old. According to the panspermia hypothesis, microscopic life—distributed by meteoroids, asteroids and other small Solar System bodies—may exist throughout the universe. According to research published in August 2015, very large galaxies may be more favorable to the creation and development of habitable planets than such smaller galaxies as the Milky Way. Nonetheless, Earth is the only place in the universe humans know to harbor life. Estimates of habitable zones around other stars, sometimes referred to as "Goldilocks zones," along with the discovery of hundreds of extrasolar planets and new insights into extreme habitats here on Earth, suggest that there may be many more habitable places in the universe than considered possible until very recently.


Current studies
on the planet Mars by the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers are searching for evidence of ancient life as well as plains related to ancient rivers or lakes that may have been habitable. The search for evidence of habitability, taphonomy (related to fossils), and organic molecules on the planet Mars is now a primary NASA and ESA objective.


Even if extraterrestrial life is never discovered, the interdisciplinary nature of astrobiology, and the cosmic and evolutionary perspectives engendered by it, may still result in a range of benefits here on Earth. (W)

📥 Astrobiology (W)

 







Atmospheric science

Atmospheric science is the study of the Earth's atmosphere and its various inner-working physical processes. Meteorology includes atmospheric chemistry and atmospheric physics with a major focus on weather forecasting. Climatology is the study of atmospheric changes (both long and short-term) that define average climates and their change over time, due to both natural and anthropogenic climate variability. Aeronomy is the study of the upper layers of the atmosphere, where dissociation and ionization are important. Atmospheric science has been extended to the field of planetary science and the study of the atmospheres of the planets and natural satellites of the solar system.


Experimental instruments used in atmospheric science include satellites, rocketsondes, radiosondes, weather balloons, and lasers.

The term aerology (from Greek ἀήρ, aēr, "air"; and -λογία, -logia) is sometimes used as an alternative term for the study of Earth's atmosphere; in other definitions, aerology is restricted to the free atmosphere, the region above the planetary boundary layer.

Early pioneers in the field include Léon Teisserenc de Bort and Richard Assmann.



Atmospheric chemistry

Atmospheric chemistry is a branch of atmospheric science in which the chemistry of the Earth's atmosphere and that of other planets is studied. It is a multidisciplinary approach of research and draws on environmental chemistry, physics, meteorology, computer modeling, oceanography, geology and volcanology and other disciplines. Research is increasingly connected with other areas of study such as climatology.


The composition and chemistry of the Earth's atmosphere is of importance for several reasons, but primarily because of the interactions between the atmosphere and living organisms. The composition of the Earth's atmosphere changes as result of natural processes such as volcano emissions, lightning and bombardment by solar particles from corona. It has also been changed by human activity and some of these changes are harmful to human health, crops and ecosystems. Examples of problems which have been addressed by atmospheric chemistry include acid rain, ozone depletion, photochemical smog, greenhouse gases and global warming. Atmospheric chemists seek to understand the causes of these problems, and by obtaining a theoretical understanding of them, allow possible solutions to be tested and the effects of changes in government policy evaluated. (W)



Visualisation of composition by volume of Earth's atmosphere. Water vapour is not included as it is highly variable. Each tiny cube (such as the one representing krypton) has one millionth of the volume of the entire block. Data is from NASA Langley.

📂Atmospheric composition

Atmospheric composition

Average composition of dry atmosphere (mole fractions)
Gas per NASA
Nitrogen, N2 78.084%
Oxygen, O2 20.946%
Minor constituents (mole fractions in ppm)
Argon, Ar 9340
Carbon dioxide, CO2 400
Neon, Ne 18.18
Helium, He 5.24
Methane, CH4 1.7
Krypton, Kr 1.14
Hydrogen, H2 0.55
Nitrous oxide, N2O 0.5
Xenon, Xe 0.09
Nitrogen dioxide, NO2 0.02
Water
Water vapour Highly variable; typically makes up about 1%

 






Schematic of chemical and transport processes related to atmospheric composition.



Carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere if half of global-warming emissions are not absorbed. (NASA simulation; 9 November 2015).



Nitrogen dioxide 2014 - global air quality levels (released 14 December 2015).

📂History

History (W)

The ancient Greeks regarded air as one of the four elements. The first scientific studies of atmospheric composition began in the 18th century, as chemists such as Joseph Priestley, Antoine Lavoisier and Henry Cavendish made the first measurements of the composition of the atmosphere.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries interest shifted towards trace constituents with very small concentrations. One particularly important discovery for atmospheric chemistry was the discovery of ozone by Christian Friedrich Schönbein in 1840.

In the 20th century atmospheric science moved on from studying the composition of air to a consideration of how the concentrations of trace gases in the atmosphere have changed over time and the chemical processes which create and destroy compounds in the air. Two particularly important examples of this were the explanation by Sydney Chapman and Gordon Dobson of how the ozone layer is created and maintained, and the explanation of photochemical smog by Arie Jan Haagen-Smit. Further studies on ozone issues led to the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry award shared between Paul Crutzen, Mario Molina and Frank Sherwood Rowland.

In the 21st century the focus is now shifting again. Atmospheric chemistry is increasingly studied as one part of the Earth system. Instead of concentrating on atmospheric chemistry in isolation the focus is now on seeing it as one part of a single system with the rest of the atmosphere, biosphere and geosphere. An especially important driver for this is the links between chemistry and climate such as the effects of changing climate on the recovery of the ozone hole and vice versa but also interaction of the composition of the atmosphere with the oceans and terrestrial ecosystems.

 







B
Biochemistry

Biochemistry, sometimes called biological chemistry, is the study of chemical processes within and relating to living organisms. Biochemical processes give rise to the complexity of life.


A sub-discipline of both biology and chemistry, biochemistry can be divided into three fields; structural biologyenzymology and metabolism. Over the last decades of the 20th century, biochemistry has become successful at explaining living processes through these three disciplines. Almost all areas of the life sciences are being uncovered and developed by biochemical methodology and research. Biochemistry focuses on understanding the chemical basis which allows biological molecules to give rise to the processes that occur within living cells and between cells, which in turn relates greatly to the study and understanding of tissues and organs, as well as organism structure and function.

Biochemistry is closely related to molecular biology, the study of the molecular mechanisms of biological phenomena.


Much of biochemistry deals with the structures, functions, and interactions of biological macromolecules, such as proteinsnucleic acidscarbohydrates, and lipids, which provide the structure of cells and perform many of the functions associated with life. The chemistry of the cell also depends on the reactions of smaller molecules and ions. These can be inorganic (for example, water and metal ions) or organic (for example, the amino acids, which are used to synthesize proteins). The mechanisms by which cells harness energy from their environment via chemical reactions are known as metabolism. The findings of biochemistry are applied primarily in medicinenutrition and agriculture. In medicine, biochemists investigate the causes and cures of diseases. In nutrition, they study how to maintain health and wellness and study the effects of nutritional deficiencies. In agriculture, biochemists investigate soil and fertilizers. They also try to discover ways to improve crop cultivation, crop storage, and pest control. (W)



A schematic of hemoglobin. The red and blue ribbons represent the protein globin; the green structures are the heme groups.



Biogeochemistry

Biogeochemistry is the scientific discipline that involves the study of the chemicalphysicalgeological, and biological processes and reactions that govern the composition of the natural environment (including the biosphere, the cryosphere, the hydrosphere, the pedosphere, the atmosphere, and the lithosphere). In particular, biogeochemistry is the study of the cycles of chemical elements, such as carbon and nitrogen, and their interactions with and incorporation into living things transported through earth scale biological systems in space through time. The field focuses on chemical cycles which are either driven by or influence biological activity. Particular emphasis is placed on the study of carbonnitrogensulfuriron, and phosphorus cycles. Biogeochemistry is a systems science closely related to systems ecology. (W)



Biogeography

Biogeography is the study of the distribution of species and ecosystems in geographic space and through geological time. Organisms and biological communities often vary in a regular fashion along geographic gradients of latitude, elevation, isolation and habitat area. Phytogeography is the branch of biogeography that studies the distribution of plants. Zoogeography is the branch that studies distribution of animals. Mycogeography is the branch that studies distribution of fungi, such as mushrooms.


Knowledge of spatial variation in the numbers and types of organisms is as vital to us today as it was to our early human ancestors, as we adapt to heterogeneous but geographically predictable environments. Biogeography is an integrative field of inquiry that unites concepts and information from ecology, evolutionary biology, taxonomy, geology, physical geography, palaeontology, and climatology.


Modern biogeographic research combines information and ideas from many fields, from the physiological and ecological constraints on organismal dispersal to geological and climatological phenomena operating at global spatial scales and evolutionary time frames.

The short-term interactions within a habitat and species of organisms describe the ecological application of biogeography. Historical biogeography describes the long-term, evolutionary periods of time for broader classifications of organisms. Early scientists, beginning with Carl Linnaeus, contributed to the development of biogeography as a science. Beginning in the mid-18th century, Europeans explored the world and discovered the biodiversity of life.


The scientific theory of biogeography grows out of the work of Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), Hewett Cottrell Watson (1804/1881), Alphonse de Candolle (1806-1893), Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913), Philip Lutley Sclater (1829–1913) and other biologists and explorers. (W)

Zoogeographic regions of Wallace, 1876 (L)
🔎



Bioinformatics

Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary field that develops methods and software tools for understanding biological data, in particular when the data sets are large and complex. As an interdisciplinary field of science, bioinformatics combines biology, computer science, information engineering, mathematics and statistics to analyze and interpret the biological data. Bioinformatics has been used for in silico analyses of biological queries using mathematical and statistical techniques.


Bioinformatics includes biological studies that use computer programming as part of their methodology, as well as a specific analysis "pipelines" that are repeatedly used, particularly in the field of genomics. Common uses of bioinformatics include the identification of candidates genes and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Often, such identification is made with the aim of better understanding the genetic basis of disease, unique adaptations, desirable properties (esp. in agricultural species), or differences between populations. In a less formal way, bioinformatics also tries to understand the organisational principles within nucleic acid and protein sequences, called proteomics. (W)



Early bioinformatics—computational alignment of experimentally determined sequences of a class of related proteins; see § Sequence analysis for further information.



Biological engineering

Biological engineering, or bioengineering/bio-engineering, is the application of principles of biology and the tools of engineering to create usable, tangible, economically viable products. Biological engineering employs knowledge and expertise from a number of pure and applied sciences, such as mass and heat transfer, kinetics, biocatalysts, biomechanics, bioinformatics, separation and purification processes, bioreactor design, surface science, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, and polymer science. It is used in the design of medical devices, diagnostic equipment, biocompatible materials, renewable bioenergy, ecological engineering, agricultural engineering, and other areas that improve the living standards of societies. Examples of bioengineering research include bacteria engineered to produce chemicals, new medical imaging technology, portable and rapid disease diagnostic devices, prosthetics, biopharmaceuticals, and tissue-engineered organs. Bioengineering overlaps substantially with biotechnology and the biomedical sciences in a way analogous to how various other forms of engineering and technology relate to various other sciences (for example, aerospace engineering and other space technology to kinetics and astrophysics).


In general, biological engineers (or biomedical engineers) attempt to either mimic biological systems to create products or modify and control biological systems so that they can replace, augment, sustain, or predict chemical and mechanical processes. Bioengineers can apply their expertise to other applications of engineering and biotechnology, including genetic modification of plants and microorganisms, bioprocess engineering, and biocatalysis. Working with doctors, clinicians and researchers, bioengineers use traditional engineering principles and techniques and apply them to real-world biological and medical problems. (W)



Biomechanics

Biomechanics is the study of the structure, function and motion of the mechanical aspects of biological systems, at any level from whole organisms to organs, cells and cell organelles, using the methods of mechanics. Biomechanics is a branch of biophysics. (W)



Biophysics

Biophysics is an interdisciplinary science that applies approaches and methods traditionally used in physics to study biological phenomena. Biophysics covers all scales of biological organization, from molecular to organismic and populations. Biophysical research shares significant overlap with biochemistry, molecular biology, physical chemistry, physiology, nanotechnology, bioengineering, computational biology, biomechanics, developmental biology and systems biology.


The term biophysics was originally introduced by Karl Pearson in 1892. Ambiguously, the term biophysics is also regularly used in academia to indicate the study of the physical quantities (e.g. electric current, temperature, stress, entropy) in biological systems, which is, by definition, performed by physiology. Nevertheless, other biological sciences also perform research on the biophysical properties of living organisms including molecular biology, cell biology, biophysics, and biochemistry. (W)



Biotechnology

Biotechnology is a broad area of biology, involving the use of living systems and organisms to develop or make products. Depending on the tools and applications, it often overlaps with related scientific fields. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, biotechnology has expanded to include new and diverse sciences, such as genomics, recombinant gene techniques, applied immunology, and development of pharmaceutical therapies and diagnostic tests. (W)



Insulin crystals.




C
Climatology
Climatology (from Greek κλίμα, klima, "place, zone"; and -λογία, -logia) or climate science is the scientific study of climate, scientifically defined as weather conditions averaged over a period of time. This modern field of study is regarded as a branch of the atmospheric sciences and a subfield of physical geography, which is one of the Earth sciences. Climatology now includes aspects of oceanography and biogeochemistry. The main methods employed by climatologists are the analysis of observations and modelling the physical laws that determine the climate.

The main topics of research are the study of climate variability, mechanisms of climate changes and modern climate change. Basic knowledge of climate can be used within shorter term weather forecasting, for instance about climatic cycles such as the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO), the North Atlantic oscillation (NAO), the Arctic oscillation (AO), the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO), and the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO).

Climate models are used for a variety of purposes from study of the dynamics of the weather and climate system to projections of future climate. Weather is known as the condition of the atmosphere over a period of time, while climate has to do with the atmospheric condition over an extended to indefinite period of time. (W)



Map of the average temperature over 30 years. Data sets formed from the long-term average of historical weather parameters are sometimes called a "climatology."


Climatology, historical

Historical climatology is the study of historical changes in climate and their effect on civilization from the emergence of hominins to the present day. This differs from paleoclimatology which encompasses climate change over the entire history of Earth. These historical impacts of climate change can improve human life and cause societies to flourish, or can be instrumental in civilization's societal collapse. The study seeks to define periods in human history where temperature or precipitation varied from what is observed in the present day.


The primary sources include written records such as sagas, chronicles, maps and local history literature as well as pictorial representations such as paintings, drawings and even rock art. The archaeological record is equally important in establishing evidence of settlement, water and land usage. (W)




E
Earth science (Geoscience)

Earth science or geoscience includes all fields of natural science related to the planet Earth. This is a branch of science dealing with the physical and chemical constitution of the Earth and its atmosphere. Earth science can be considered to be a branch of planetary science, but with a much older history. Earth science encompasses four main branches of study, the lithosphere, the hydrosphere, the atmosphere, and the biosphere, each of which is further broken down into more specialized fields.


There are both reductionist and holistic approaches to Earth sciences. It is also the study of Earth and its neighbors in space. Some Earth scientists use their knowledge of the planet to locate and develop energy and mineral resources. Others study the impact of human activity on Earth's environment, and design methods to protect the planet. Some use their knowledge about earth processes such as volcanoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes to plan communities that will not expose people to these dangerous events.


The Earth sciences can include the study of geology, the lithosphere, and the large-scale structure of the Earth's interior, as well as the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere. Typically, Earth scientists use tools from geology, chronology, physics, chemistry, geography, biology, and mathematics to build a quantitative understanding of how the Earth works and evolves. Earth science affects our everyday lives. For example, meteorologists study the weather and watch for dangerous storms. Hydrologists study water and warn of floods. Seismologists study earthquakes and try to understand where they will strike. Geologists study rocks and help to locate useful minerals. Earth scientists often work in the field—perhaps climbing mountains, exploring the seabed, crawling through caves, or wading in swamps. They measure and collect samples (such as rocks or river water), then they record their findings on charts and maps. (W)



The magnetosphere shields the surface of Earth from the charged particles of the solar wind. (Image not to scale.)

 



Earth system science

Earth system science (ESS) is the application of systems science to the Earth. In particular, it considers interactions and 'feedbacks', through material and energy fluxes, between the Earth's sub-systems' cycles, processes and "spheres" — atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, geosphere, pedosphere, lithosphere, 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, geography, geology, glaciology, meteorology, oceanography, climatology, 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 fluxes and processes, the resulting spatial organization and time evolution of these systems, and their variability, stability and 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. (W)

📂 Definition, Origins

Definition (W), Origins (W)

Definition
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".

Earth System science has articulated four overarching, definitive and critically important features of the Earth System , which include:

  1. Variability: Many of the Earth System's natural 'modes' and variabilities across space and time are beyond human experience, because of the stability of the recent Holocene. Much Earth System science therefore relies on studies of the Earth's past behaviour and models to anticipate future behaviour in response to pressures.
  2. Life: Biological processes play a much stronger role in the functioning and responses of the Earth System than previously thought. It appears to be integral to every part of the Earth System.
  3. Connectivity: Processes are connected in ways and across depths and lateral distances that were previously unknown and inconceivable.
  4. Non-linear: The behaviour of the Earth System is typified by strong non-linearities. This means that abrupt change can result when relatively small changes in a 'forcing function' push the System across a 'threshold'.

 

Origins

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.

 





An ecological analysis of CO2 in an ecosystem. As systems biology, systems ecology seeks a holistic view of the interactions and transactions within and between biological and ecological systems.



The dynamic interaction of the Earth's oceans, climatological, geochemical systems.



Ecology

Ecology (from Greek: οἶκος, "house", or "environment"; -λογία, "study of") is a branch of biology concerning interactions among organisms and their biophysical environment, which includes both biotic and abiotic components. Topics of interest include the biodiversity, distribution, biomass, and populations of organisms, as well as cooperation and competition within and between species. Ecosystems are dynamically interacting systems of organisms, the communities they make up, and the non-living components of their environment. Ecosystem processes, such as primary production, pedogenesis, nutrient cycling, and niche construction, regulate the flux of energy and matter through an environment. These processes are sustained by organisms with specific life history traits.


Ecology is not synonymous with environmentalism, natural history, or environmental science. It overlaps with the closely related sciences of evolutionary biology, genetics, and ethology. An important focus for ecologists is to improve the understanding of how biodiversity affects ecological function. Ecologists seek to explain:

  • Life processes, interactions, and adaptations
  • The movement of materials and energy through living communities
  • The successional development of ecosystems
  • The abundance and distribution of organisms and biodiversity in the context of the environment.


Ecology has practical applications in conservation biology, wetland management, natural resource management (agroecology, agriculture, forestry, agroforestry, fisheries), city planning (urban ecology), community health, economics, basic and applied science, and human social interaction (human ecology). It is not treated as separate from humans. Organisms (including humans) and resources compose ecosystems which, in turn, maintain biophysical feedback mechanisms that moderate processes acting on living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) components of the planet. Ecosystems sustain life-supporting functions and produce natural capital like biomass production (food, fuel, fiber, and medicine), the regulation of climate, global biogeochemical cycles, water filtration, soil formation, erosion control, flood protection, and many other natural features of scientific, historical, economic, or intrinsic value.

The word "ecology" ("Ökologie") was coined in 1866 by the German scientist Ernst Haeckel. Ecological thought is derivative of established currents in philosophy, particularly from ethics and politics. Ancient Greek philosophers such as Hippocrates and Aristotle laid the foundations of ecology in their studies on natural history. Modern ecology became a much more rigorous science in the late 19th century. Evolutionary concepts relating to adaptation and natural selection became the cornerstones of modern ecological theory. (W)



A Blue Starfish (Linckia laevigata) resting on hard Acropora and Porites corals (one can also see Anthiinae fish and crinoids). Lighthouse, Ribbon Reefs, Great Barrier Reef.

 




g
Geography, physical

Physical geography (also known as geosystems or physiography) is one of the two major fields of geography. Physical geography is the branch of natural science which deals with the study of processes and patterns in the natural environment such as the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and geosphere, as opposed to the cultural or built environment, the domain of human geography. (W)

📂 Sub-branches (W)

Sub-branches (W)

Physical geography can be divided into several branches or related fields, as follows:

  • Geomorphology is concerned with understanding the surface of the Earth and the processes by which it is shaped, both at the present as well as in the past. Geomorphology as a field has several sub-fields that deal with the specific landforms of various environments e.g. desert geomorphology and fluvial geomorphology; however, these sub-fields are united by the core processes which cause them, mainly tectonic or climatic processes. Geomorphology seeks to understand landform history and dynamics, and predict future changes through a combination of field observation, physical experiment, and numerical modeling (Geomorphometry). Early studies in geomorphology are the foundation for pedology, one of two main branches of soil science.
  • Hydrology is predominantly concerned with the amounts and quality of water moving and accumulating on the land surface and in the soils and rocks near the surface and is typified by the hydrological cycle. Thus the field encompasses water in rivers, lakes, aquifers and to an extent glaciers, in which the field examines the process and dynamics involved in these bodies of water. Hydrology has historically had an important connection with engineering and has thus developed a largely quantitative method in its research; however, it does have an earth science side that embraces the systems approach. Similar to most fields of physical geography it has sub-fields that examine the specific bodies of water or their interaction with other spheres e.g. limnology and ecohydrology.
  • Glaciology is the study of glaciers and ice sheets, or more commonly the cryosphere or ice and phenomena that involve ice. Glaciology groups the latter (ice sheets) as continental glaciers and the former (glaciers) as alpine glaciers. Although research in the areas is similar to research undertaken into both the dynamics of ice sheets and glaciers, the former tends to be concerned with the interaction of ice sheets with the present climate and the latter with the impact of glaciers on the landscape. Glaciology also has a vast array of sub-fields examining the factors and processes involved in ice sheets and glaciers e.g. snow hydrology and glacial geology.
  • Biogeography is the science which deals with geographic patterns of species distribution and the processes that result in these patterns. Biogeography emerged as a field of study as a result of the work of Alfred Russel Wallace, although the field prior to the late twentieth century had largely been viewed as historic in its outlook and descriptive in its approach. The main stimulus for the field since its founding has been that of evolution, plate tectonics and the theory of island biogeography. The field can largely be divided into five sub-fields: island biogeography, paleobiogeography, phylogeography, zoogeography and phytogeography
  • Climatology is the study of the climate, scientifically defined as weather conditions averaged over a long period of time. Climatology examines both the nature of micro (local) and macro (global) climates and the natural and anthropogenic influences on them. The field is also sub-divided largely into the climates of various regions and the study of specific phenomena or time periods e.g. tropical cyclone rainfall climatology and paleoclimatology.
  • Meteorology is the interdisciplinary scientific study of the atmosphere that focuses on weather processes and short term forecasting (in contrast with climatology). Studies in the field stretch back millennia, though significant progress in meteorology did not occur until the eighteenth century. Meteorological phenomena are observable weather events that illuminate and are explained by the science of meteorology.
  • Soil geography deals with the distribution of soils across the terrain. This discipline is fundamental to both physical geography and pedology. Pedology is the study of soils in their natural environment. It deals with pedogenesis, soil morphology, soil classification. Soil geography studies the spatial distribution of soils as it relates to topography, climate (water, air, temperature), soil life (micro-organisms, plants, animals) and mineral materials within soils (biogeochemical cycles).
  • Palaeogeographyis a cross-disciplinary study that examines the preserved material in the stratigraphic record to determine the distribution of the continents through geologic time. Almost all the evidence for the positions of the continents comes from geology in the form of fossils or paleomagnetism. The use of this data has resulted in evidence for continental drift, plate tectonics, and supercontinents. This, in turn, has supported palaeogeographic theories such as the Wilson cycle.
  • Coastal geography is the study of the dynamic interface between the ocean and the land, incorporating both the physical geography (i.e. coastal geomorphology, geology, and oceanography) and the human geography of the coast. It involves an understanding of coastal weathering processes, particularly wave action, sediment movement and weathering, and also the ways in which humans interact with the coast. Coastal geography, although predominantly geomorphological in its research, is not just concerned with coastal landforms, but also the causes and influences of sea level change.
  • Oceanography is the branch of physical geography that studies the Earth's oceans and seas. It covers a wide range of topics, including marine organisms and ecosystem dynamics (biological oceanography); ocean currents, waves, and geophysical fluid dynamics (physical oceanography); plate tectonics and the geology of the sea floor (geological oceanography); and fluxes of various chemical substances and physical properties within the ocean and across its boundaries (chemical oceanography). These diverse topics reflect multiple disciplines that oceanographers blend to further knowledge of the world ocean and understanding of processes within it.
  • Quaternary science is an interdisciplinary field of study focusing on the Quaternary period, which encompasses the last 2.6 million years. The field studies the last ice age and the recent interstadial the Holocene and uses proxy evidence to reconstruct the past environments during this period to infer the climatic and environmental changes that have occurred.
  • Landscape ecology is a sub-discipline of ecology and geography that address how spatial variation in the landscape affects ecological processes such as the distribution and flow of energy, materials, and individuals in the environment (which, in turn, may influence the distribution of landscape "elements" themselves such as hedgerows). The field was largely funded by the German geographer Carl Troll. Landscape ecology typically deals with problems in an applied and holistic context. The main difference between biogeography and landscape ecology is that the latter is concerned with how flows or energy and material are changed and their impacts on the landscape whereas the former is concerned with the spatial patterns of species and chemical cycles.
  • Geomatics is the field of gathering, storing, processing, and delivering geographic information, or spatially referenced information. Geomatics includes geodesy (scientific discipline that deals with the measurement and representation of the earth, its gravitational field, and other geodynamic phenomena, such as crustal motion, oceanic tides, and polar motion), geographical information science (GIS) and remote sensing (the short or large-scale acquisition of information of an object or phenomenon, by the use of either recording or real-time sensing devices that are not in physical or intimate contact with the object).
  • Environmental geography is a branch of geography that analyzes the spatial aspects of interactions between humans and the natural world. The branch bridges the divide between human and physical geography and thus requires an understanding of the dynamics of geology, meteorology, hydrology, biogeography, and geomorphology, as well as the ways in which human societies conceptualize the environment. Although the branch was previously more visible in research than at present with theories such as environmental determinism linking society with the environment. It has largely become the domain of the study of environmental management or anthropogenic influences.

 




NASA true-color image of the Earth's surface and atmosphere.

 



Geology

Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ("earth") and -λoγία, -logia, ("study of", "discourse") is an earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which they change over time. Geology can also include the study of the solid features of any terrestrial planet or natural satellite such as Mars or the Moon. Modern geology significantly overlaps all other earth sciences, including hydrology and the atmospheric sciences, and so is treated as one major aspect of integrated earth system science and planetary science.


Geology describes the structure of the Earth on and beneath its surface, and the processes that have shaped that structure. It also provides tools to determine the relative and absolute ages of rocks found in a given location, and also to describe the histories of those rocks. By combining these tools, geologists are able to chronicle the geological history of the Earth as a whole, and also to demonstrate the age of the Earth. Geology provides the primary evidence for plate tectonics, the evolutionary history of life, and the Earth's past climates.


Geologists use a wide variety of methods to understand the Earth's structure and evolution, including field work, rock description, geophysical techniques, chemical analysis, physical experiments, and numerical modelling. In practical terms, geology is important for mineral and hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation, evaluating water resources, understanding of natural hazards, the remediation of environmental problems, and providing insights into past climate change. Geology is a major academic discipline, and it plays an important role in geotechnical engineering. (W)

📂Important milestones on Earth

Important milestones on Earth (W)

 





The rock cycle shows the relationship between igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks.



The Earth's layered structure. (1) inner core; (2) outer core; (3) lower mantle; (4) upper mantle; (5) lithosphere; (6) crust (part of the lithosphere).
Geologic Clock with events and periods (L)
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📂Geologic time scale

Geologic time scale (W)

This clock representation shows some of the major units of geological time and definitive events of Earth history. The Hadean eon represents the time before fossil record of life on Earth; its upper boundary is now regarded as 4.0 Ga (billion years ago). Other subdivisions reflect the evolution of life; the Archean and Proterozoic are both eons, the Palaeozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic are eras of the Phanerozoic eon. The three million year Quaternary period, the time of recognizable humans, is too small to be visible at this scale.

 





Geologic time scale
The geologic time scale (GTS) is a system of chronological dating that relates geological strata (stratigraphy) to time. It is used by geologists, paleontologists, and other Earth scientists to describe the timing and relationships of events that have occurred during Earth's history. The table of geologic time spans, presented here, agree with the nomenclature, dates and standard color codes set forth by the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS).

Terminology

The primary defined divisions of time are eons, in sequence the Hadean, the Archean, the Proterozoic and the Phanerozoic. The first three of these can be referred to collectively as the Precambrian supereon. Eons are divided into eras, which are in turn divided into periods, epochs and ages.


The following four timelines show the geologic time scale. The first shows the entire time from the formation of the Earth to the present, but this gives little space for the most recent eon. Therefore, the second timeline shows an expanded view of the most recent eon. In a similar way, the most recent era is expanded in the third timeline, and the most recent period is expanded in the fourth timeline.

Siderian Rhyacian Orosirian Statherian Calymmian Ectasian Stenian Tonian Cryogenian Ediacaran Eoarchean Paleoarchean Mesoarchean Neoarchean Paleoproterozoic Mesoproterozoic Neoproterozoic Paleozoic Mesozoic Cenozoic Hadean Archean Proterozoic Phanerozoic Precambrian
Cambrian Ordovician Silurian Devonian Carboniferous Permian Triassic Jurassic Cretaceous Paleogene Neogene Quaternary Paleozoic Mesozoic Cenozoic Phanerozoic
Paleocene Eocene Oligocene Miocene Pliocene Pleistocene Holocene Paleogene Neogene Quaternary Cenozoic
Gelasian Calabrian (stage) Pleistocene Pleistocene Pleistocene Holocene Quaternary
Millions of Years

Corresponding to eons, eras, periods, epochs and ages, the terms "eonothem", "erathem", "system", "series", "stage" are used to refer to the layers of rock that belong to these stretches of geologic time in Earth's history.


Geologists qualify these units as "early", "mid", and "late" when referring to time, and "lower", "middle", and "upper" when referring to the corresponding rocks. For example, the Lower Jurassic Series in chronostratigraphy corresponds to the Early Jurassic Epoch in geochronology. The adjectives are capitalized when the subdivision is formally recognized, and lower case when not; thus "early Miocene" but "Early Jurassic."

The stratigraphic chart of geologic time.
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Graphical representation of Earth’s history as a spiral (L)
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Geophysics

Geophysics is a subject of natural science concerned with the physical processes and physical properties of the Earth and its surrounding space environment, and the use of quantitative methods for their analysis. The term geophysics sometimes refers only to geological applications: Earth's shape; its gravitational and magnetic fields; its internal structure and composition; its dynamics and their surface expression in plate tectonics, the generation of magmas, volcanism and rock formation. However, modern geophysics organizations and pure scientists use a broader definition that includes the water cycle including snow and ice; fluid dynamics of the oceans and the atmosphere; electricity and magnetism in the ionosphere and magnetosphere and solar-terrestrial relations; and analogous problems associated with the Moon and other planets. (w)



Computer simulation of the Earth's magnetic field in a period of normal polarity between reversals.



Age of the sea floor. Much of the dating information comes from magnetic anomalies.

 




H
Hydrobiology

Hydrobiology is the science of life and life processes in water. Much of modern hydrobiology can be viewed as a sub-discipline of ecology but the sphere of hydrobiology includes taxonomy, economic biology, industrial biology, morphology, physiology etc. The one distinguishing aspect is that all relate to aquatic organisms. Much work is closely related to limnology and can be divided into lotic system ecology (flowing waters) and lentic system ecology (still waters).


One of the significant areas of current research is eutrophication. Special attention is paid to biotic interactions in plankton assemblage including the microbial loop, the mechanism of influencing water blooms, phosphorus load and lake turnover. Another subject of research is the acidification of mountain lakes. Long-term studies are carried out on changes in the ionic composition of the water of rivers, lakes and reservoirs in connection with acid rain and fertilisation. One goal of current research is elucidation of the basic environmental functions of the ecosystem in reservoirs, which are important for water quality management and water supply.

Much of the early work of hydrobiologists concentrated on the biological processes utilised in sewage treatment and water purification especially slow sand filters. Other historically important work sought to provide biotic indices for classifying waters according to the biotic communities that they supported. This work continues to this day in Europe in the development of classification tools for assessing water bodies for the EU water framework directive.


The hydrobiologist technician conducts field analysis. It identifies plants and living species, locates them, counts them. It identifies pollutions and nuisances that can affect the aquatic fauna and flora. He takes the samples and writes a report of his observations.

The hydrobiologist engineer intervenes more in the process of the study. It defines the intervention protocols, the samples to be taken. He plans and programs the study campaigns and then summarizes his results. In the event of pollution, it proposes solutions to improve the biological quality of water within the framework of the regulations in force and the available means. In the case of complex programs, the hydrobiologist can work in a multidisciplinary team with botanists, zoologists


The hydrobiologist works on behalf of large public institutions of a scientific and technological nature (CNRS, INRA, IRD, CIRAD, IRSTEA ...), public institutions (Water Agencies, Regional Directorates environment, Higher Council of Fisheries, CEMAGREF ...), companies (EDF, Veolia environment, Suez environment, Saur, ...), local authorities, research departments, associations (Federations of fishing, Permanent Centers for Environmental Initiatives ...). (W)



Hydrology

Hydrology (from Greek: ὕδωρ, "hýdōr" meaning "water" and λόγος, "lógos" meaning "study") is the scientific study of the movement, distribution and management of water on Earth and other planets, including the water cycle, water resources and environmental watershed sustainability. A practitioner of hydrology is called a hydrologist. Hydrologists are scientists studying earth or environmental science, civil or environmental engineering and physical geography. Using various analytical methods and scientific techniques, they collect and analyze data to help solve water related problems such as environmental preservation, natural disasters, and water management.


Hydrology subdivides into surface water hydrology, groundwater hydrology (hydrogeology), and marine hydrology. Domains of hydrology include hydrometeorology, surface hydrology, hydrogeology, drainage-basin management and water quality, where water plays the central role.

Oceanography and meteorology are not included because water is only one of many important aspects within those fields.

Hydrological research can inform environmental engineering, policy and planning. (W)



 


M
Meteorology
Meteorology is a branch of the atmospheric sciences which includes atmospheric chemistry and atmospheric physics, with a major focus on weather forecasting. The study of meteorology dates back millennia, though significant progress in meteorology did not occur until the 18th century. The 19th century saw modest progress in the field after weather observation networks were formed across broad regions. Prior attempts at prediction of weather depended on historical data. It was not until after the elucidation of the laws of physics and more particularly, the development of the computer, allowing for the automated solution of a great many equations that model the weather, in the latter half of the 20th century that significant breakthroughs in weather forecasting were achieved. An important domain of weather forecasting is marine weather forecasting as it relates to maritime and coastal safety, in which weather effects also include atmospheric interactions with large bodies of water.

Meteorological phenomena
are observable weather events that are explained by the science of meteorology. Meteorological phenomena are described and quantified by the variables of Earth's atmosphere: temperature, air pressure, water vapour, mass flow, and the variations and interactions of those variables, and how they change over time. Different spatial scales are used to describe and predict weather on local, regional, and global levels.

Meteorology, climatology, atmospheric physics, and atmospheric chemistry are sub-disciplines of the atmospheric sciences. Meteorology and hydrology compose the interdisciplinary field of hydrometeorology. The interactions between Earth's atmosphere and its oceans are part of a coupled ocean-atmosphere system. Meteorology has application in many diverse fields such as the military, energy production, transport, agriculture, and construction.

The word meteorology is from the Ancient Greek μετέωρος metéōros (meteor) and -λογία -logia (-(o)logy), meaning "the study of things high in the air." (W)



General circulation of the Earth's atmosphere: The westerlies and trade winds are part of the Earth's atmospheric circulation.



O
Oceanography
Oceanography (compound of the Greek words ὠκεανός meaning "ocean" and γράφω meaning "write"), also known as oceanology, is the study of the physical and biological aspects of the ocean. It is an important Earth science, which covers a wide range of topics, including ecosystem dynamics; ocean currents, waves, and geophysical fluid dynamics; plate tectonics and the geology of the sea floor; and fluxes of various chemical substances and physical properties within the ocean and across its boundaries. These diverse topics reflect multiple disciplines that oceanographers blend to further knowledge of the world ocean and understanding of processes within: astronomy, biology, chemistry, climatology, geography, geology, hydrology, meteorology and physics. Paleoceanography studies the history of the oceans in the geologic past. An oceanographer is a person who studies many matters concerned with oceans including marine geology, physics, chemistry and biology. (W)




P
Paleoceanography

Paleoceanography is the study of the history of the oceans in the geologic past with regard to circulation, chemistry, biology, geology and patterns of sedimentation and biological productivity. Paleoceanographic studies using environment models and different proxies enable the scientific community to assess the role of the oceanic processes in the global climate by the re-construction of past climate at various intervals. Paleoceanographic research is also intimately tied to paleoclimatology. (W)



Paleoclimatology

Paleoclimatology (in British spelling, palaeoclimatology) is the study of climates for which direct measurements were not taken. As instrumental records only span a tiny part of Earth history, the reconstruction of ancient climate is important to understand natural variation and the evolution of the current climate. Paleoclimatology uses a variety of proxy methods from the Earth and life sciences to obtain data previously preserved within rocks, sediments, boreholes, ice sheets, tree rings, corals, shells, and microfossils. Combined with techniques to date the proxies, these paleoclimate records are used to determine the past states of Earth's atmosphere.

The scientific field of paleoclimatology came to maturity in the 20th century. Notable periods studied by paleoclimatologists are the frequent glaciations the Earth has undergone, rapid cooling events such as the Younger Dryas, and the fast rate of warming during the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum. Studies of past changes in the environment and biodiversity often reflect on the current situation, specifically the impact of climate on mass extinctions and biotic recovery and current global warming. (W)

📂Reconstructing ancient climates

Reconstructing ancient climates (W)

Paleoclimatologists employ a wide variety of techniques to deduce ancient climates. The techniques used depend on which variable has to be reconstructed (temperature, precipitation or something else) and on how long ago the climate of interest occurred. For instance, the deep marine record, the source of most isotopic data, exists only on oceanic plates, which are eventually subducted: the oldest remaining material is 200 million years old. Older sediments are also more prone to corruption by diagenesis. Resolution and confidence in the data decrease over time.



Palaeotemperature graphs compressed together.

 





Palaeotemperature graphs compressed together. (W)

 



Planetary science

Planetary science or, more rarely, planetology, is the scientific study of planets (including Earth), moons, and planetary systems (in particular those of the Solar System) and the processes that form them. It studies objects ranging in size from micrometeoroids to gas giants, aiming to determine their composition, dynamics, formation, interrelations and history. It is a strongly interdisciplinary field, originally growing from astronomy and earth science, but which now incorporates many disciplines, including planetary geology (together with geochemistry and geophysics), cosmochemistry, atmospheric science, oceanography, hydrology, theoretical planetary science, glaciology, and exoplanetology. Allied disciplines include space physics, when concerned with the effects of the Sun on the bodies of the Solar System, and astrobiology.


There are interrelated observational and theoretical branches of planetary science. Observational research can involve a combination of space exploration, predominantly with robotic spacecraft missions using remote sensing, and comparative, experimental work in Earth-based laboratories. The theoretical component involves considerable computer simulation and mathematical modelling.

Planetary scientists are generally located in the astronomy and physics or Earth sciences departments of universities or research centres, though there are several purely planetary science institutes worldwide. There are several major conferences each year, and a wide range of peer-reviewed journals. Some planetary scientists work at private research centres and often initiate partnership research tasks. (W)



Photograph from Apollo 15 orbital unit of the rilles in the vicinity of the crater Aristarchus on the Moon.

 



Phytogeography

Phytogeography (from Greek φυτόν, phytón = "plant" and γεωγραφία, geographía = "geography" meaning also distribution) or botanical geography is the branch of biogeography that is concerned with the geographic distribution of plant species and their influence on the earth's surface. Phytogeography is concerned with all aspects of plant distribution, from the controls on the distribution of individual species ranges (at both large and small scales, see species distribution) to the factors that govern the composition of entire communities and floras. Geobotany, by contrast, focuses on the geographic space's influence on plants. (W)



Good (1947) floristic kingdoms.



Z
Zoogeography

Zoogeography is the branch of the science of biogeography that is concerned with geographic distribution (present and past) of animal species.


As a multifaceted field of study, zoogeography incorporates methods of molecular biology, genetics, morphology, phylogenetics, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to delineate evolutionary events within defined regions of study around the globe. Once proposed by Alfred Russell Wallace, known to be the father of Zoogeography, phylogenetic affinities can be quantified among zoogeographic regions, further elucidating the phenomena surrounding geographic distributions of organisms and explaining evolutionary relationships of taxa.


Advancements in molecular biology and theory of evolution within zoological research has unraveled questions concerning speciation events and has expanded phylogenic relationships amongst taxa Integration of phylogenetics with GIS provides a means for communicating evolutionary origins through cartographic design. Related research linking phylogenetics and GIS has been conducted in areas of the southern Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Pacific Oceans. Recent innovations in DNA bar-coding, for example, have allowed for explanations of phylogenetic relationships within two families of marine venomous fishes, Scorpaenidae and Tetraodontidae, residing in the Andaman Sea. Continued efforts to understand species evolutionary divergence articulated in the geologic time scale based on fossil records for killifish (Aphanius and Aphanolebias) in locales of the Mediterranean and Paratethys areas revealed climatological influences during the Miocene. Further development of research within zoogeography has expanded upon knowledge of the productivity of South Atlantic ocean regions and distribution of organisms in analogous regions, providing both ecological and geographic data to supply a framework for the taxonomic relationships and evolutionary branching of benthic polychaetes.


Modern-day zoogeography also places a reliance on GIS to integrate a more precise understanding and predictive model of the past, current, and future population dynamics of animal species both on land and in the ocean. Through employment of GIS technology, linkages between abiotic factors of habitat such as topography, latitude, longitude, temperatures, and sea level can serve to explain the distribution of species populations through geologic time. Understanding correlations of habitat formation and the migration patterns of organisms at an ecological level allows for explanations of speciation events that may have arisen due to physical geographic isolation events or the incorporation of new refugia to survive unfavorable environmental conditions. (W)




 


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