Understand the World we live in and our impact on it
In this fascinating and timely course, learn about the dynamic and changing face of planet Earth by investigating the complex and amazing interactions between the Earth's many different components. By studying Earth Science you will gain an understanding of the many processes that have sculpted the Earth you see today and a deeper appreciation of the many environmental challenges that we currently face.
Gain an ability to identify and describe the Earth, its structure and explain processes that affect change in the structure and composition of the earth. Learn about rocks and minerals, meteorology, global weather patterns, the oceans, surface chances (eg. earthquakes and volcanoes), geological time and the complex interactions between all of these elements of earth science.
There are 9 lessons in this course:
- Structure and Forces - Looks at the forces that have created the Earth from Plate tectonics, to volcanoes, earthquakes and structure of the earth
- Rocks and Minerals - This lesson takes a detailed look at the structure, identification and formation of rocks and minerals.
- Surface Changes - This lesson looks at the processes involved in changing the Earth's surface such as erosion, weathering and surface waters
- The Oceans This lesson uncovers the dynamics behind seawater, waves, tides, the corriolois effect and ocean currents
- Air and Weather - This lesson investigates atmospheric processes including the structure of the atmosphere, seasons and solar radiation
- The Greenhouse Effect - This lesson looks at the greenhouse effect but also delves into natural and man-made atmospheric effects such as global warming and atmospheric pollutants.
- Global Weather Patterns - What is climate and how is it created, also an in depth look at climate classification.
- Geological Time -How old is the Earth? Relative dating, radiocarbin dating, half lives and fossils.
- Modern Environmental Issues - Currently we are faced by unique environmental problems, learn about these in this lesson
Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.
Describe the major structural elements of Earth and the major internal forces which affect them.
Classify rocks and minerals according to their characteristics and formation.
Explain external processes that that cause topographic and soil changes on the earth’s surface.
Describe the oceans of the earth and their role in global processes.
Describe the earth’s atmosphere and the forces which create weather.
Describe some well known effects of particular atmospheric conditions like the Greenhouse effect.
Identify global weather patterns and their relationship to different climates.
Describe the way in which the earth’s surface has changed over time. Identify environmental issues which are of current significance.
ensure your skills are up to date, by pursuing further studies or attending professional development activities.
Keep up to date with what's happening in the field of Wildlife Management. What are the most pressing issues and where is there likely to be more work?
Join a networking group to meet people who are working in the field of Wildlife Management.
Get some experience. Whether paid or unpaid, experience will always make your CV look more impressive and give you some practical knowledge to apply in your interview.
An extract from Course Notes
Without the greenhouse effect, the earth would be very cold, with an average temperature of around minus 18 degrees centigrade. The greenhouse effect is an atmospheric condition created by the heat energy radiated by the sun and greenhouse gases that are normally present in the atmosphere. As mentioned in chapter 5, carbon dioxide (CO2) is transparent to shortwave radiation (incoming solar radiation) but not to longwave radiation (outgoing terrestrial radiation). Thus, as solar radiation passes through the atmosphere and warms the Earth, that which is reflected back is absorbed by CO2 & other greenhouse gasses (water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide), and the rest is reflected back towards the sun. The energy trapped or absorbed by the greenhouse gasses warms the earth.
The natural balance
Venus’s atmosphere is high in CO2 (96%), a greenhouse gas, so that its average surface temperature is 450 degrees centigrade. If the earth’s atmosphere trapped all the sun’s heat that passes through it, the earth’s temperature would continue to rise to those levels. However, the earth’s atmosphere contains only around 0.03% carbon dioxide, which allows much of the sun’s heat to be reflected back into space.
On our planet, the temperature only rises until the amount of infrared or long wave radiation leaving the Earth equals the amount of energy coming in from the sun. This means that the earth receives the same amount of the sun’s energy as it reflects. As long as the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stays the same, and the amount of heat arriving from the sun stays the same, there is a balance. In this state of balance created by the natural greenhouse effect, the earth has an average temperature of 16 degrees centigrade.
Anthropomorphic Changes to Global Climates
The earth's atmosphere is composed of 78 % nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and only about 1% of greenhouse gases (water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide).
Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 have risen from under 1 billion metric ton/year in the early 1800’s to over 8 billion metric tons/year in 2000. It has been concluded by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change) that up until the 1950’s some of the variation in the Earths surface temperature can be attributed to natural sources such as solar variation and volcanic eruptions. Post 1950’s however, is attributed solely to human activity. Note that human activity was still impacting only climate, prior to the 1950’s, however it was not the only source. In fact it is thought that humans have impacted upon the climate since the invention of fire and agriculture. There are two main sources of anthropogenic (man made) greenhouse gasses. These are: burning of fossil fuels such as coal, natural gasses and petroleum; and second is deforestation as CO2 is released through decaying vegetation as well as burning vegetation. It has been estimated that approximately 40-50% of CO2 released from deforestation will remain in the atmosphere despite some it being absorbed by other plant growth and the oceans.
Many scientists believe that increases in greenhouse gasses are causing the earth’s temperature to rise, resulting in an enhanced greenhouse effect. Other scientists believe that these changes are just part of the natural cycles of change that continuously occur on earth. While most agree that earth’s temperature is rising, they disagree about how much it will rise, how fast it will rise, and what the effects will be on earth and on living things.
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