Textbook Notes (381,165)
CA (168,383)
UTSC (19,323)
EESA01H3 (82)
Chapter 5

CHAPTER 5 DETAILED NOTES FOR 4.0

18 Pages
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Department
Environmental Science
Course Code
EESA01H3
Professor
Carl Mitchell

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Earths Environmental Systems
Our planets environment consists of complex networks of interlinked systems.
Earth uses cycles that shape the landscapes around us and guide the flow of key
chemical elements and compounds that support life and regulate climate.
Systems show several defining properties
System is a network of relationships among parts, elements, or components that
interact with and influence one another through the exchange of energy, matter, or
information.
Open Systems are systems that receive input of both energy and matter and
produce outputs of both
Closed Systems receive inputs and produce outputs of energy, but not matter.
oin nature, no system is perfectly closed
Energy inputs to the earths environmental systems include
oSolar radiation
oHeat released by geothermal activity
oOrganismal metabolism
oHuman activities (eg. Fossil fuel combustion)
Information energy can come in the form of sensory cues from:
ovisual signs
oOlfactory (chemical) signs
oMagnetic signs
oThermal signs
Inputs of matter occur when chemicals or physical material moves among systems
oEg. Seeds being dispered long distances
oMigratory animals deposit waste far from where they consumed food
www.notesolution.com
Eg. Gulf of St. Lawrence receives inputs from the St. Lawrence, fishers harvest some
of the systems output: matter and energy in the form of fish and plankton.
oOutput becomes input to the human economic system and to the digestive
systems of the people who consumer seafood from the St. Lawrence
Sometimes a systems output can serve as input to that same system
oThis is a circular process known as feedback loop
Can be positive or negative
In a negative feedback loop output that results from a
system moving in one direction acts as input that moves the
system in the other direction,
oInput and output essentially neutralize each other
oEG. Thermostat working to stabilize rooms temperature
oEG. Our bodies, when we get too hot, our sweat glands
pumpe out moisture that evaporates to cool us down.
Most systems in nature involve negative feedback
loops.
Positive feedback loops have the opposite effect, rather than
stabilizing a system, they drive it further toward one extreme
or another.
oeg. Populations growth, the more people who are born,
the more there are to give birth to further people,
increased output leads to increased input, leading to
further increased output.
oPositive feedback loops are rare in nature, common in
natural systems altered by human impact.
System is constantly active as input and outputs occur simultaneously.
When processes within a system move in opposite directions at equivalent rates so
that their effects balance out is called dynamic equilibrium
oDynamic because even though the state is balance, it is ever-changing
www.notesolution.com
oHomeostasis is the tendency of a system to maintain constant or stable
internal conditions.
Homeostatic systems are often said to be in a stable or steady state
Earth is a homeostatic system
oResistance refers to the strength of a systems tendency to remain constant
oResilience is a measure of how readily the system will return to its original
state once its been disturbed.
It is difficult to understand systems fully by focusing on their individual components
because systems can show emergent properties
oCharacteristics not evident in the components alone
oIt is like saying the whole is more than the sum of its parts
If you had a tree in its components parts (leaves, branches) you
wouldnt be able to predict the whole trees emergent properties, which
include the role the tree plays as a habitat for birds etc. You could
analyze the trees chloroplasts but still be unable to understand the
tree as habitat.
Systems have well defined boundaries
oComputer desktop example
In summary, systems may exchange energy, matter, and info with other systems
which may contain or be contained within other systems, where we draw boundaries
may depend on the spatial or temporal scale at which we choose to focus.
Understanding a complex system requires considering multiple subsystems
The great lakes, st. Lawrence river & atlantic ocean are systems that interact with
one another
oWaterways carry with them millions of tons of sediment, hundreds of species
of plants and animals & numerous pollutants
oMust consider Great Lakes St. Lawrence river watershed as a system if an
environmental scientist is interested in runoff and the flow of water,
sediments or pollutants
www.notesolution.com

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Description
Earths Environmental Systems Our planets environment consists of complex networks of interlinked systems. Earth uses cycles that shape the landscapes around us and guide the flow of key chemical elements and compounds that support life and regulate climate. Systems show several defining properties System is a network of relationships among parts, elements, or components that interact with and influence one another through the exchange of energy, matter, or information. Open Systems are systems that receive input of both energy and matter and produce outputs of both Closed Systems receive inputs and produce outputs of energy, but not matter. o in nature, no system is perfectly closed Energy inputs to the earths environmental systems include o Solar radiation o Heat released by geothermal activity o Organismal metabolism o Human activities (eg. Fossil fuel combustion) Information energy can come in the form of sensory cues from: o visual signs o Olfactory (chemical) signs o Magnetic signs o Thermal signs Inputs of matter occur when chemicals or physical material moves among systems o Eg. Seeds being dispered long distances o Migratory animals deposit waste far from where they consumed food www.notesolution.com Eg. Gulf of St. Lawrence receives inputs from the St. Lawrence, fishers harvest some of the systems output: matter and energy in the form of fish and plankton. o Output becomes input to the human economic system and to the digestive systems of the people who consumer seafood from the St. Lawrence Sometimes a systems output can serve as input to that same system o This is a circular process known as feedback loop Can be positive or negative In a negative feedback loop output that results from a system moving in one direction acts as input that moves the system in the other direction, o Input and output essentially neutralize each other o EG. Thermostat working to stabilize rooms temperature o EG. Our bodies, when we get too hot, our sweat glands pumpe out moisture that evaporates to cool us down. Most systems in nature involve negative feedback loops. Positive feedback loops have the opposite effect, rather than stabilizing a system, they drive it further toward one extreme or another. o eg. Populations growth, the more people who are born, the more there are to give birth to further people, increased output leads to increased input, leading to further increased output. o Positive feedback loops are rare in nature, common in natural systems altered by human impact. System is constantly active as input and outputs occur simultaneously. When processes within a system move in opposite directions at equivalent rates so that their effects balance out is called dynamic equilibrium o Dynamic because even though the state is balance, it is ever-changing www.notesolution.com
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