The Earth System / Edition 2

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The Earth System, Second Edition employs a systems-based approach to examine Earth science at the global level. This text explores how:

  • Earth's processes have connections to the past and to each other
  • Seemingly small-scale changes to Earth can have large-scale effects
  • Processes that are occurring now are molding the course of the future

The second edition incorporates two new chapters:

  • Modeling the Atmosphere-Ocean System—A discussion of why numerical models are necessary, how they are used, what they can tell us about past and future climates, and what their limitations are.
  • A Focus on the Biota: Ecosystems and Biodiversity—Focuses on life's role in the Earth system, how ecosystems function, what biodiversity is, and whether or not biological diversity enhances the stability of ecosystems.

Three categories of boxed text are included and offer a deeper study of the topics presented.

  • A Closer Look—Includes more advanced concepts, results from current research, and explanations of interesting phenomena.
  • Important Concepts—In-depth presentations of fundamental concepts from the natural sciences essential to our understanding of the Earth system.
  • Thinking Quantitatively—Demonstrates how simple mathematics can be used to better understand the workings of the Earth system.
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Editorial Reviews

A non-traditional introductory text for non-science majors, using a top-down approach to unifying principles in the natural sciences. Components of the Earth system are treated with consideration of the interplay among them and interactions with living organisms, and environmental problems such as global warming are understood through past events in Earth's history that illuminate how the Earth system responds under stress. Pedagogical features include chapter overviews and summaries, key terms, review questions, and critical thinking problems, plus boxed readings on recent advances. Includes a glossary. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780131420595
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall
  • Publication date: 8/6/2003
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 8.22 (w) x 10.74 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Lee R. Kump received his AB degree in geophysical sciences from the University of Chicago in 1981 and his PhD in marine sciences from the University of South Florida in 1986. He has been on the faculty of the Department of Geosciences at Penn State since 1986, where he now serves as Professor of Geosciences and affiliate of the NASA Astrobiology Institute and Penn State's Earth System Science Center (ESSC). Dr. Kump is the former coeditor of the preeminent Earth sciences journal Geology and is now editor of the Virtual Journal of Geobiology and associate editor of Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. He is a fellow of the Geological Society of America, and received the Distinguished Service Medal from the Geological Society of America in 2000. Dr. Kump's research interests include the behavior of nutrient and trace elements in natural environments, the evolution of ocean and atmosphere composition on geologic time scales, biogeochemical cycling in aquatic environments, and environmental change during extreme events (mass extinctions, extreme warm periods, glaciations) in Earth history.

James F. Kasting is a Professor at Penn State University, where he holds joint appointments in the Departments of Geosciences and Meteorology and is an affiliate of the NASA Astrobiology Institute and Penn State's ESSC. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University in Chemistry and Physics and did his PhD in Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Michigan. Prior to coming to Penn State in 1988, he spent 7 year§ in the Space Science Division at NASA Ames Research Center. Dr. Kasting is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the InternationalSociety for the Study of the Origin of Life. His research focuses on the evolution of planetary atmospheres, particularly the question of why the atmospheres of Mars and Venus are so different from that of Earth. Dr. Kasting is also interested in the question of whether habitable planets exist around other stars and how we might look for signatures of life by doing spectroscopy on their atmospheres.

Robert G. Crane received his PhD in Geography from the University of Colorado, Boulder. After working as a Research Associate in the National Snow and Ice Data Center and the World Data Center-A for Glaciology in Boulder, he spent a year teaching at the University of Saskatchewan before moving to Penn State in 1985. Dr. Crane's research has been on microwave remote sensing of sea ice, ice-climate interactions, and, more recently, regional-scale climate change, climate downscaling techniques, and climate change and variability in southern Africa. He is coeditor of a text on the applications of artificial neural networks in geography. Currently Dr. Crane holds the position of Professor in the Department of Geography and an affiliate of the ESSC. He also serves as the Associate Dean for Education in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences at Penn State.

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Read an Excerpt

This is not a traditional Earth science textbook. Such books treat individual components of the Earth system—the solid Earth, atmosphere, and oceans—separately, with little consideration of the interplay among them or the important interactions with living organisms (the stuff of ecology texts). And, although they are the focus of this book, the modern environmental problems of global warming, ozone depletion, and loss of biodiversity are treated in a fundamentally different way here than in most texts. Here we recognize that these problems have analogues from Earth history: The geological past is the key to the present and to the future. Content

Chapter 1, "Global Change," is an overview of these important issues—the observational data that convince us that serious problems exist and the events in Earth's history that illuminate how the Earth system responds under stress. The rest of the book is organized into three major sections. Chapters 2 through 9 are devoted to an exploration of how Earth "works." They develop the notion that processes active on Earth's surface are functioning together to regulate climate, the circulation of the ocean and atmosphere, and the recycling of the elements. The biota play an important role in all of these processes. Chapters 10 through 15 take the reader through the history of Earth, highlighting those events that provide lessons for the future. The final four chapters focus on the future of the Earth system, addressing the modern problems of global change and the prospect of life on other planets in the context of what was presented in the first two sections. Revisions to the First Edition

In the four yearssince the first edition of this book came out, a lot has changed. Atmospheric CO2 has increased by about 7 parts per million, freon-11 concentrations have decreased by 6 parts per trillion, and global surface temperatures have continued their inexorable but ragged rise. For this reason alone—just to keep up with the new data on global change—a book like this one needs to be regularly updated. However, it is not just the data that are changing. Ideas have been evolving as well during the past four years. New geologic evidence indicates that "Snowball Earth" episodes actually occurred not just once but several times during Earth's history. The case has been made that CH4, rather than (or in addition to) CO2, was the main greenhouse gas that helped to keep the early Earth warm despite reduced solar luminosity. The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) released a new report that for the first time states unambiguously that human activities are responsible for at least part of the observed surface temperature increase. And NASA's generous support for the new discipline of "astrobiology" has made us even more aware of the tight connections between the evolving Earth and its biota.

We have tried to reflect these and other changes in the revised edition of our book. We have added two new chapters: Chapter 6 (on global climate models) and Chapter 9 (on the biota, ecosystems, and biodiversity). We've also expanded our discussion of early Earth, now devoting two chapters to the topic: Chapter 10, on the origin of Earth and of life, and Chapter 11, on the effect life has had on the development of the atmosphere. Some of this involved simply reorganizing material that had previously been included in other chapters; however, a significant amount of new material has been added. Chapter 9 recognizes the importance of numerical modeling in the establishment of policy for a changing world. Chapter 9 highlights the role that the biota plays in the Earth system. Chapters 10 and 11 draw on the "universal" tree of life derived from sequencing of ribosomal RNA that places humans and fungi as closer relatives than different forms of bacteria. The order of Chapters 11 and 12 (Chapters 8 and 9 in the first edition) has been switched to reflect the increased importance of the O2/CH4 story for Precambrian paleoclimates. Organization and Pedagogy

As in the first edition, we have employed a number of pedagogical features to assist in the learning process. Each chapter begins with "Key Questions" (objective questions students should be able to answer after they have read the chapter) and a "Chapter Overview" (a broad preview of the chapter to come). Within each chapter are boxed essays that provide interesting asides, more detailed or quantitative treatments of material in the text, or recent advances in scientific understanding. A "Chapter Summary" is provided in outline form at the end of each chapter to aid in reviewing the most important concepts. "Suggested Readings" include both general readings and advanced readings for students (and instructors) interested in further information about the subject matter. These are followed by "Key Terms" lists, which consist of boldfaced terms that are introduced in the chapter and that appear in the "Glossary" in the back of the book. "Review Questions" focus students' review on important concepts and require only brief answers, whereas "Critical-Thinking Questions" are thought questions or analytical exercises that require students to synthesize concepts presented in the chapter. In designing this second edition, we have tried to organize our topics more logically and categorize special topics into "boxes" of different types, with the designations A Closer Look, which offers a closer examination of topics discussed in the book; Important Concepts, with in-depth presentations of fundamental concepts from the natural sciences essential to our understanding of the Earth system; and Thinking Quantitatively, which emphasizes how mathematics is used to better understand the workings of the Earth system. Instructors may choose whether to make any or all of these boxes assigned reading. We have also corrected errors pointed out to us by our students and by other faculty using the book, and we've brought the data graphs up to date. We hope that these changes will help make the book easier to use in a variety of different courses, as well as being more accessible and informative to students. Chapter Sequencing

We anticipate that this book will be used in a variety of ways. We teach a general education class at The Pennsylvania State University that covers approximately three-quarters of the book during one semester. Several instructors teach this course, but not all of us choose to cover the same chapters. An instructor who is most interested in climate issues, for example, might use Chapters 1-6, 8 12, 14-16, and 19. One who is most interested in biodiversity might choose Chapters 1, 2, 8-11, 13, ant 18. The course can also be tailored to emphasize either Earth history (Chapters 1, 2, 3, and 9-15) or modern global environmental problems (Chapters 1-6, 8, 9, and 16-19"' By providing more material than can easily be covered ii a one-semester course, we provide the flexibility to emphasize topics or topic areas that are of interest to different instructors and different groups of students.

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Table of Contents

About the Authors
1 Global Change 1
2 Daisyworld: An Introduction to Systems 18
3 Global Energy Balance: The Greenhouse Effect 34
4 The Atmospheric Circulation System 55
5 The Circulation of the Oceans 83
6 Modeling the Atmosphere - Ocean System 104
7 Circulation of the Solid Earth: Plate Tectonics 117
8 Recycling of the Elements: The Carbon Cycle 147
9 Focus on the Biota: Metabolism, Ecosystems, and Biodiversity 173
10 Origin of the Earth and of Life 187
11 Effect of Life on the Atmosphere: The Rise of Oxygen and Ozone 207
12 Long-Term Climate Regulation 230
13 Biodiversity through Earth History 252
14 Pleistocene Glaciations 270
15 Short-Term Climate Variability 289
16 Global Warming 317
17 Ozone Depletion 343
18 Human Threats to Biodiversity 362
19 Climate Stability on Earth and Earthlike Planets 379
App. A Units and Unit Conversions 393
App. B Temperature Conversions 394
App. C Periodic Table of the Elements 395
App. D Useful Facts 396
Glossary 397
Index 409
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