Learning Unit 1 Natural and Human Environments-1

Learning Unit 1 Natural and Human Environments-1 - LEARNING...

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LEARNING UNIT 1: Natural and Human Environments Act Question Answer 1.1 1 Distinguish between the four subsystems of the natural environment. The earth system comprises four major subsystems. The solid earth – landforms, rocks, soils, and minerals – makes up the lithosphere. The waters of the earth system – oceans, lakes, rivers, and glaciers – constitute the hydrosphere. The biosphere is composed of all living things: people, other animals, and plants. The atmosphere, surrounding the earth, is a mixture of gases that extend to a height of approximately 480 km above the earth's surface. It is the nature of these four major subsystems and the interactions among them that create and nurture the conditions necessary for life on earth. The biosphere serves as an interface between the spheres, enabling water to move between the hydrosphere, lithosphere and atmosphere by means of plant transpiration. Plants require four things to grow: nutrients, light, water and moderate temperatures. When any one of these things changes, plant growth will also change. On land, the annual changes in plant growth are most evident in marginal areas, where small changes in water levels or the temperature have a huge impact on plant growth. The atmosphere is the gaseous blanket of air that envelops, shields, and insulates the earth. The movements and processes of the atmosphere create the changing conditions that we know as weather and climate. The earth's atmosphere is a very thin layer wrapped around a very large planet. Two gases make up the bulk of the earth's atmosphere: nitrogen (N), which comprises 78% of the atmosphere, and oxygen (O), which accounts for 21%. Various trace gases make up the remainder. Based on temperature, the atmosphere is divided into four layers: the troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere and thermosphere. The hydrosphere provides the water supply for life on earth, including humans, and provides a habitat for aquatic plants and animals. The hydrosphere is often called the "water sphere" as it includes all the earth's water found in the oceans, glaciers, streams, lakes and the soil, ground water and water in the air. The hydrosphere directly affects the lithosphere as water moving in streams, waves, and currents shapes landforms. It also influences the atmosphere through evaporation, condensation, and the effects of ocean temperatures on climate. The impact and intensity of interactions among the earth’s subsystems are not identical everywhere on our planet, and it is these variations that lead to the geographic patterns of environmental diversity. The water of the hydrosphere is distributed among several
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different stores found in the other spheres. Water is held in oceans, lakes and streams on the surface of the earth. Water is found in vapour, liquid and solid states in the atmosphere.
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