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Atmosphere and Environment

An artificial aquatic system inside biosphere II An artificial aquatic system inside Biosphere 2 Biosphere 2 is the world's largest glass bubble constructed in 1991, a totally self–contained artificial ecosystem built to serve as a center for research, outreach, teaching and life-long learning about Earth, its living systems, and its place in the Universe. A team of eight members entered in to it that contained artificial biomes such as forests, deserts, oceans etc. The major problem encountered in this biosphere was the disturbances in oxygen and carbon cycles. Surprisingly the identified cause was absorption of oxygen. Microbes (microorganisms) were using oxygen to metabolize the excess organic matter that had been added to the soils to promote plant growth and absorption of CO2 by Ca(OH)2 in the concrete of building walls. The Biosphere II has shown us how complex Earth's ecosystems are and how difficult it is to mimic nature, even on a small scale.

Learning Objectives

After completing the topic, the student will be able to:

  • Define environmental chemistry and name the four spheres surrounding our Earth.
  • Give the four atmospheric segments and describe the composition of each segment.
  • Explain Earth's heat radiation balance.
  • Define the Greenhouse effect and give its consequences.
  • Describe hydrosphere and understand the internal structure of Earth.
  • Explain the interconnection between four spheres surrounding Earth.
  • List the four geochemical cycles - water cycle, oxygen cycle, carbon cycle and nitrogen cycle.
  • Describe the chemical processes involved in the geochemical cycles.
April 22 - Earth Day April 22 – Earth Day In 2009, the United Nations designated April 22nd as ‘International Mother Earth Day’. Earth Day is planned for April 22nd in all years atleast through 2015.
Our Environment

The concern for the protection of the environment spread over the developed countries in the sixties and reached its climax in 1970 with the celebration of "Earth Day" under the auspicious day of the United Nations. From 1972 onwards, this concern started sweeping across developed and developing countries as a result of United Nations conference on human environment at Stockholm. Therefore, a need for environmental education at formal and non–formal levels was realized. Presently many environmental issues of great size and complexity are threatening the survival of the mankind itself on the Earth. These issues are linked with ecological, social and economical problems.

Earth Day is an annual day on which events are held worldwide to increase awareness and appreciation of the Earth's natural environment. Earth Day is now coordinated globally by the ‘Earth Day Network’ and is celebrated in more than 175 countries every year.

A flock of Ibis visits a flooded rice field in California. A flock of Ibis visits a flooded rice field in California. Years of ecological research have helped rice farmers adopt cropping strategies that simultaneously promote rice production and expand habitat for waterflow.
Interactions of Organisms and the Environment

From tiny viruses and bacteria, unrecognized for millennia, to blue whales weighing 200 tons, and fungi that spread for hundreds of hectares underground, the diversity and extent of life on Earth is dazzling. In its life and reproduction, every organism is shaped by, and in turn shapes, its environment. Ecological scientists study organism‐environment interactions across ecosystems of all sizes, ranging from microbial communities to the Earth as a whole.

Web of life: Scientists estimate that there are between five to fifty million species of organisms on Earth, of which less than two million have been officially named. Many organisms are small: including microbes that inhabit almost every crevice of the Earth; tiny worms that help build soils; and insects that spend their entire lives in tree tops. Alongside these small denizens coexist larger, flashier species that have drawn human attention throughout the ages: multicellular plants and fungi, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fellow mammals. These species, as well as many smaller ones, are consumers that depend for sustenance on energetic biochemical compounds generated from light energy by photosynthesizing producer species, or from inorganic chemical reactions by chemosynthetic species.

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