A map can represent data from an area on a flat surface. The part of our Earth system most frequently mapped is the atmosphere. Weather—the state of the atmosphere at a particular place and time—needs constant monitoring because it perpetually changes as weather systems evolve and move.
Awareness of what the weather is and is likely to be has numerous benefits. Weather can be hazardous, causing injuries, death, and loss of property. Weather maps are valuable analytical tools for informing people about current or future conditions.
The USGS has been studying glaciers in Glacier National Park since 1850. It is estimated that there were 150 glaciers in the park back then, and when the national park was established in 1910. Today only 25 glaciers remain.
Scientists go back every year to repeat photographs, as well as to examine the ice and the ecology of the landscape to see how glacial retreat is affecting plant and animal species that live there.
The ocean is a “carbon sink,” which means that it removes CO2 (carbon dioxide) from the atmosphere. The ocean currently absorbs about one-third of the CO2 released by the burning of fossil fuels.
However, beyond a certain level of atmospheric CO2, the ocean can no longer act as a carbon sink without it having a negative impact on marine life. When CO2 dissolves in seawater, it leads to decreased pH levels. The ocean becomes less alkaline. This is referred to as ocean acidification.
Water moves from Earth’s surface to the atmosphere and then returns to the surface. This process is nearly always depicted in water cycle diagrams by arrows drawn in a circular direction.
However, the actual path water may take in its cycle is far more complicated. In this activity, you will discover multiple cycles by acting as water molecules and traveling through parts of the overall water cycle. In the end, your water cycle will look nothing like the conceptual model but will represent a more realistic cycle.