Outline of Earth sciences

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The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Earth science:

Diagram of the structure of the Earth including its atmosphere

Earth science – all-embracing term for the sciences related to the planet Earth.[1] It is also known as geoscience, the geosciences or the Earth sciences, and is arguably a special case in planetary science, the Earth being the only known life-bearing planet.

Earth science is a branch of the physical sciences which is a part of the natural sciences. It in turn has many branches.

Earth's spheres[edit]

A false-color composite of global oceanic and terrestrial photoautotroph abundance from September 1997 to August 2000, showing Earth's biosphere. Provided by the SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center and ORBIMAGE.

Ecosphere[2][3] – there are many subsystems that make up the natural environment (the planetary ecosystem or "ecosphere") of the Earth. Many of the subsystems are characterized as "spheres", coinciding with the shape of the planet. The four spheres (for which most of the other spheres are a subtype of) are the atmosphere, the biosphere, the hydrosphere and the geosphere. Listed roughly from outermost to innermost the named spheres of the Earth are:

  • Magnetosphere – The region around an astronomical object in which charged particles are affected by it's magnetic field
  • Atmosphere, the gases that surround the Earth (its air)
    • By altitude
      • Exosphere – The outermost layer of an atmosphere
      • Exobase
      • Ionosphere – The ionized part of Earth's upper atmosphere
      • Thermopause – The upper boundary of the thermosphere
      • Thermosphere – The layer of the atmosphere above the mesosphere and below the exosphere
      • Mesopause – The temperature minimum at the boundary between the mesosphere and the thermosphere
      • Mesosphere – The layer of the atmosphere directly above the stratosphere and below the thermosphere
      • Stratopause – The upper boundary of the stratosphere
      • Stratosphere – The layer of the atmosphere above the troposphere
      • Ozone layer – The region of Earth's stratosphere that absorbs most of the Sun's UV radiation
      • Tropopause – The boundary of the atmorphere between the troposphere and stratosphere
      • Troposphere – The lowest layer of the atmosphere
      • Planetary boundary layer – The lowest part of the atmosphere, directly influenced by contact with the planetary surface
    • By air turbulence
  • Biosphere – The global sum of all ecosystems on Earth
    • Anthroposphere – The part of the environment that is made or modified by humans for use in human activities and human habitat
      • Noosphere (rare) – The sphere of human thought
  • Cryosphere – Those portions of Earth's surface where water is in solid form
  • Hydrosphere – The combined mass of water found on, under, and above the surface of a planet, minor planet or natural satellite
  • Pedosphere – The outermost layer of the Earth that is composed of soil and subject to soil formation processes
  • Geosphere/Solid Earth – A collective name for the lithosphere, the hydrosphere, the cryosphere, and the atmosphere
    • Lithosphere – The rigid, outermost shell of a terrestrial-type planet or natural satellite that is defined by its rigid mechanical properties
      • Crust (geology) – The outermost solid shell of a rocky planet, dwarf planet, or natural satellite
    • Asthenosphere – The highly viscous, mechanically weak and ductile region of the Earth's upper mantle
    • Mesosphere – The part of the Earth's mantle below the lithosphere and the asthenosphere, but above the outer core
    • Earth's mantle – The part of the interior of the planet Earth between the crust and the core
    • Earth's core
      • Inner core – The innermost part of the Earth, a solid ball of iron-nickel alloy
      • Outer core – A fluid layer composed of mostly iron and nickel between Earth's solid inner core and its mantle

Branches of Earth science[edit]

Atmospheric science[edit]

Atmospheric sciences – The study of the atmosphere, its processes, and interactions with other systems

  • Meteorology – Interdisciplinary scientific study of the atmosphere focusing on weather forecasting
  • Climatology – The scientific study of climate, defined as weather conditions averaged over a period of time
  • Paleoclimatology – The study of changes in climate taken on the scale of the entire history of Earth
  • Atmospheric chemistry – The branch of atmospheric science in which the chemistry of the atmosphere is studied
  • Atmospheric physics – The application of physics to the study of the atmosphere
  • Paleotempestology – Tthe study of past tropical cyclone activity using geological proxies and historical documents

Environmental science[edit]

Environmental science – The integrated, quantitative, and interdisciplinary approach to the study of environmental systems.

  • Ecology – Scientific study of the relationships between living organisms and their environment
  • Environmental chemistry – The scientific study of the chemical and biochemical phenomena that occur in natural places
  • Environmental soil science – The study of the interaction of humans with the pedosphere as well as critical aspects of the biosphere, the lithosphere, the hydrosphere, and the atmosphere.
  • Environmental geology – An applied science concerned with the practical application of the principles of geology in the solving of environmental problems.
  • Geodesy – The science of the geometric shape, orientation in space, and gravitational field of the Earth

Geology[edit]

  • Geology – The study of the composition, structure, physical properties, and history of Earth's components, and the processes by which they are shaped.
    • Economic geology – Science concerned with earth materials of economic value
    • Engineering geology – The application of the geology to engineering practice
    • Environmental geology – Science of the practical application of geology in environmental problems.
    • Quaternary geology – The branch of geology that studies developments more recent than 2.6 million years ago
    • Planetary geology – The geology of astronomical objects apparently in orbit around stellar objects
    • Petroleum geology – The study of the origin, occurrence, movement, accumulation, and exploration of hydrocarbon fuels
    • Historical geology – The study of the geological history of Earth
    • Hydrogeology – The study of the distribution and movement of groundwater
    • Structural geology – The science of the description and interpretation of deformation in the earth's crust independent of extent
  • Geochemistry – Science that applies chemistry to analyse geological systems
  • Geochronology – Science of determining the age of rocks, sediments and fossils
  • Geomagnetics – Study of the Earth's magnetic field
  • Geomicrobiology – Science of the interactions between micribiology and geology
  • Geomorphology – The scientific study of landforms and the processes that shape them
  • Geophysics – The physics of the Earth and its environment in space, and the study of the Earth using quantitative physical methods
  • Micropaleontology – The branch of paleontology that studies microfossils
  • Mineralogy – Scientific study of minerals and mineralised artifacts
    • Gemology – Science dealing with natural and artificial gemstone materials
    • Mineral physics – The science of materials that compose the interior of planets
    • Mining – The extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth
  • Paleontology – Scientific study of prehistoric life
  • Palynology – The study of dust
  • Petrology – The branch of geology that studies the origin, composition, distribution and structure of rocks
  • Physical geodesy – The study of the physical properties of the Earth's gravity field
  • Plate tectonics – The scientific theory that describes the large-scale motions of Earth's lithosphere
  • Sedimentology – The study of natural sediments and of the processes by which they are formed
  • Seismology – The scientific study of earthquakes and propagation of elastic waves through a planet
  • Stratigraphy – The study of rock layers and their formation
  • Tectonics – The processes that control the structure and properties of the Earth's crust and its evolution through time
  • Volcanology – The study of volcanoes, lava, magma and associated phenomena

Geography[edit]

Geography – The science that studies the terrestrial surface, the societies that inhabit it and the territories, landscapes, places or regions that form it.

  • Human geography – The study of cultures, communities and activities of peoples of the world
  • Paleogeography – The study of historical geography
  • Physical Geography – The study of processes and patterns in the natural environment
  • Biogeography – The study of the distribution of species and ecosystems in geographic space and through geological time

Geoinformatics[edit]

Geoinformatics

Glaciology[edit]

Oceanography[edit]

Oceanography

Soil science[edit]

Soil science – The study of soil as a natural resource on the surface of the earth

  • Edaphology – The science concerned with the influence of soils on living things
  • Pedology – The study of soils in their natural environment

History of Earth science[edit]

History of Earth science – history of the all-embracing sciences related to the planet Earth. Earth science, and all of its branches, are branches of physical science.

  • History of atmospheric sciences – history of the umbrella study of the atmosphere, its processes, the effects other systems have on the atmosphere, and the effects of the atmosphere on these other systems.
  • History of biogeography – history of the study of the distribution of species (biology), organisms, and ecosystems in geographic space and through geological time.
  • History of cartography – history of the study and practice of making maps or globes.
  • History of climatology – history of the study of climate, scientifically defined as weather conditions averaged over a period of time
  • History of coastal geography – history of 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 (sociology and history) of the coast.
  • History of environmental science – history of an integrated, quantitative, and interdisciplinary approach to the study of environmental systems.
    • History of ecology – history of the scientific study of the distribution and abundance of living organisms and how the distribution and abundance are affected by interactions between the organisms and their environment.
      • History of Freshwater biology – history of the scientific biological study of freshwater ecosystems and is a branch of limnology
      • History of marine biology – history of the scientific study of organisms in the ocean or other marine or brackish bodies of water
      • History of parasitology – history of the Parasitology is the study of parasites, their hosts, and the relationship between them.
      • History of population dynamics – history of the Population dynamics is the branch of life sciences that studies short-term and long-term changes in the size and age composition of populations, and the biological and environmental processes influencing those changes.
    • History of environmental chemistry – history of the Environmental chemistry is the scientific study of the chemical and biochemical phenomena that occur in natural places.
    • History of environmental soil science – history of the Environmental soil science is the study of the interaction of humans with the pedosphere as well as critical aspects of the biosphere, the lithosphere, the hydrosphere, and the atmosphere.
    • History of environmental geology – history of the Environmental geology, like hydrogeology, is an applied science concerned with the practical application of the principles of geology in the solving of environmental problems.
    • History of toxicology – history of the branch of biology, chemistry, and medicine concerned with the study of the adverse effects of chemicals on living organisms.
  • History of geodesy – history of the scientific discipline that deals with the measurement and representation of the Earth, including its gravitational field, in a three-dimensional time-varying space
  • History of geography – history of the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth
  • History of geoinformatics – history of the science and the technology which develops and uses information science infrastructure to address the problems of geography, geosciences and related branches of engineering.
  • History of geology – history of the study of the Earth, with the general exclusion of present-day life, flow within the ocean, and the atmosphere.
    • History of planetary geology – history of the planetary science discipline concerned with the geology of the celestial bodies such as the planets and their moons, asteroids, comets, and meteorites.
  • History of geomorphology – history of the scientific study of landforms and the processes that shape them
  • History of geostatistics – history of the branch of statistics focusing on spatial or spatiotemporal datasets
  • History of geophysics – history of the physics of the Earth and its environment in space; also the study of the Earth using quantitative physical methods.
  • History of glaciology – history of the study of glaciers, or more generally ice and natural phenomena that involve ice.
  • History of hydrology – history of the study of the movement, distribution, and quality of water on Earth and other planets, including the hydrologic cycle, water resources and environmental watershed sustainability.
  • History of hydrogeology – history of the area of geology that deals with the distribution and movement of groundwater in the soil and rocks of the Earth's crust (commonly in aquifers).
  • History of mineralogy – history of the study of chemistry, crystal structure, and physical (including optical) properties of minerals.
  • History of meteorology – history of the interdisciplinary scientific study of the atmosphere which explains and forecasts weather events.
  • History of oceanography – history of the branch of Earth science that studies the ocean
  • History of paleoclimatology – history of the study of changes in climate taken on the scale of the entire history of Earth
  • History of paleontology – history of the study of prehistoric life
  • History of petrology – history of the branch of geology that studies the origin, composition, distribution and structure of rocks.
  • History of limnology – history of the study of inland waters
  • History of seismology – history of the scientific study of earthquakes and the propagation of elastic waves through the Earth or through other planet-like bodies
  • History of soil science – history of the study of soil as a natural resource on the surface of the Earth including soil formation, classification and mapping; physical, chemical, biological, and fertility properties of soils; and these properties in relation to the use and management of soils.
  • History of topography – history of the study of surface shape and features of the Earth and other observable astronomical objects including planets, moons, and asteroids.
  • History of volcanology – history of the study of volcanoes, lava, magma, and related geological, geophysical and geochemical phenomena.

Earth science programs[edit]

Earth science organizations[edit]

Earth science publications[edit]

People influential in Earth science[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]