Study Earth Science Online with ACS Distance Education
Learn about climate change, geology, meteorology and related environmental challenges that are facing today's world.
This course takes an in depth and detailed look at each of the major forces that act upon the Earth and it's environments over time. Students gain an understanding of the different processes involved in the creation of the Earth as we now see it and of the complex interactions that produce modern climates and affect the current environment.
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 Coriolis 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, radiocarbon 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.
Why Choose This Course
- Course notes and materials are unique (written by our staff) and up to date (most revised annually) –our graduates are more up to date with what they learn than many other institutions.
- We don’t just present you with information; we also work to help you understand and remember it, develop an ability to apply it in the real world, and build networks with others who work in this field.
- Start any time, study at your own pace, study from anywhere
- Don’t waste time and money traveling to and from classes
- More choices in your assignment work –courses are written to allow you more options to focus on parts of the subject that are of more interest to you.
- Tutors more accessible than many colleges – academics are hard at work in both the UK and Australia, 5 days a week, 16 hours a day, and answering individual queries from students are top priority and always attended to within a day –often within an hour.
- Be treated like an individual –don’t get lost in a crowd of other students. Our tutors interact with you one to one.
- Extra help at no extra cost where needed.. If you find a task you can’t do, we will help you through it or give you another option.
- Support after graduation –We will advise on getting work, starting a business, putting a CV together. We will promote students and their businesses through our extensive profile on the internet. Any graduate who asks will be helped.
How You Study
- When you enroll, we send you an email that explains it all.
- You are given a short orientation video to watch, where our principal introduces you to how the course works, and how you can access all sorts of support services
- You are either given access to your course online, or sent a CD or course materials through the mail (or by courier).
- You work through lessons one by one. Each lesson has at least four parts:
- An aim -which tells you what you should be achieving in the lesson
- Reading -notes written and regularly revised by our academic staff
- Set Task(s) -These are practicals, research or other experiential learning tasks that strengthen and add to what you have been reading
- Assignment -By answering questions, submitting them to a tutor, then getting feedback from the tutor, you confirm that you are on the right track, but more than that, you are guided to consider what you have been studying in different ways, broadening your perspective and reinforcing what you are learning about
- Other - Your work in a course rarely stops at just the above four parts. Different courses and different students will need further learning experiences. Your set task or assignment may lead to other things, interacting with tutors or people in industry, reviewing additional reference materials or something else. We treat every student as an individual and supplement their learning needs as the occasion requires.
- You are given access to and encouraged to use a range of supplementary services including an online student room, including online library; student bookshop, newsletters, social media etc.
- You are provided with a "student manual" which you can refer to if and when needed. It provides a quick solution to most problems that might occur (some people never need to use this; but if you are studying late at night & have a problem, the manual provides a first port of call that can often get you moving again).
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 long wave 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.