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Part X : The Environment

Environmental Factors Appropriate for Life :
Associated Practical Work

Environmental Factors Appropriate for Life : Question

Soil
What is soil made of?
Life in the Soil
Environment and Distribution
Water
The Water Cycle
The Globe and the Water Cycle
The Seasons
The Seasons and the Sun
How Seasons Influence the Biosphere
Human Influences on the Environment

Topic Chapters Index

 

the Earth 

 

Is the Earth unique?

Astrobiologists search for planets in the Milky Way galazy that might resemble the Earth. In 2013 it was estimated that there could be, potentially, 40 billion planets in the galaxy, of which around 11 million could be suitable for life.

The nearest of these planets has been named Alpha Centauri Bb that oribits the star, Alpha Centauri B. The Alpha Centauri system is 4,3 light years from Earth. Using any of the present methods of space vehicle propulsion, the journey to Alpha Centauri Bb would take anywhere between 20,000 years and 80,000 years!

 

Alpha Centauri Bb

ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS APPROPRIATE FOR LIFE

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Life could never have existed on Earth without the proper conditions in the air, land, and water. For example, if the air became very cold all over the Earth, the water in the hydrosphere would freeze.

 

Admiralty Bay, Antarctica © Shirley Burchill

 

Frozen water is useless to living organisms because they cannot drink it, swim in it or search for food in it.

From this example, it is clear that temperature is an important factor in the environment. Temperature can be changed by changes in the atmosphere. For example, if there are many clouds during the day, the temperature will tend to be low. Therefore, the amount of sunlight is another important factor in the environment.

 

Clouds at night  © Shirley Burchill

 

If there is too much sunlight and the air is very dry, as in the case of a hot desert, very few organisms can survive. If a particular region receives an adequate amount of rainfall, however, it will maintain a good level of humidity. Humidity is the amount of water vapour in the air.

The amount of sunlight and humidity is linked to the temperature of a region. Each factor can have an effect on the others and they all have an effect on living organisms.

 

Sunset over the Nile © Shirley Burchill

 

To better understand how the atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere interact with each other and with temperature and sunlight, soil will be studied as an example.

 

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