Earth system science

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See also: Earth science

Earth system science seeks to integrate various fields of academic study to understand the Earth as a system. It considers interactions between the atmosphere, hydrosphere, solid Earth (lithosphere and deeper), biosphere,[1] and heliosphere,[2] 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, geology, glaciology, meteorology, oceanography, paleontology, sociology and space science.


The Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, offers the following definition: "Earth system science embraces chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics and applied sciences in transcending disciplinary boundaries to treat the Earth as an integrated system and 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".[3]


ESS can be studied at a postgraduate level at certain universities. In 1996, the American Geophysical Union, in cooperation with the Keck Geology Consortium and with support from five divisions within the National Science Foundation, convened a workshop "to define common educational goals among all disciplines in the Earth sciences". In its report, participants noted that, "The fields that make up the Earth and space sciences are currently undergoing a major advancement that promotes understanding the Earth as a number of interrelated systems". Recognizing the rise of this systems approach, the workshop report recommended that an Earth system science curriculum be developed with support from the National Science Foundation.[4]


NASA has several missions, including Aquarius (measuring global sea surface salinity) and CALIPSO (cloud related), which have provided data that has advanced our knowledge of Earth Systems.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Earth System Science". Classroom of the future. Retrieved 2009-03-10. 
  2. ^ Schwadron, N. A. et al. (6 September 2011). "Does the Space Environment Affect the Ecosphere?" (PDF). Eos (American Geophysical Union) 92 (36): 297–301. doi:10.1029/2011eo360001. 
  3. ^ "Earth System Science in a Nutshell". Carleton College. Retrieved 2009-03-10. 
  4. ^ "Shaping the Future of Undergraduate Earth Science Education". American Geophysical Union. Retrieved 2009-05-12. [dead link]

External links[edit]

Earth Science Strategy (NASA 2014, p.42)