Earth science definition is given as study of physical characteristics of our planet. It includes all the physical processes going on the earth surface as well as in its atmosphere and the determinant factors. Therefore, earth science studies all natural phenomena like earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, drought, hurricanes, storms, rainfall and much more. Also, the factors affecting these physical processes as well as the effect of these natural processes on earth and its living organisms are studies under the head.
Earth science studies about earth or neighbouring planets. For convenient studies, earth science is categorized into four groups. These are namely geology, meteorology, oceanography, and astronomy. Geology is the study of the structure of the earth. The weather and atmosphere of the earth are studied under meteorology. As the name suggests, oceanography is the study of the oceans while the study of the universe is placed under astronomy.
Earth science is one of the most important aspects of sciences. Its importance can be understood by focusing on its different branches. Let’s understand it using the example of meteorology; the branch of earth science that deals with earth’s weather and atmosphere. Our lives are affected by weather. Most of our daily activities are scheduled according to the weather only. Therefore, prediction of weather conditions of a place over certain time enables us to plan our activities accordingly. Although there were the days when laymen use to predict the weather conditions for upcoming days using clues from types of clouds present in sky, direction of rainbow, activities of certain animals, timing of sunset and sunrise etc, yet the development of sophisticated devices for weather prediction, as used by modern meteorology provides more accurate details about the upcoming weather conditions. Prediction of any upcoming natural calamities enables the modern men to take some required precautions. For example, prediction of flood, drought, storm, hurricanes enables us to take proper action to minimize the loss of lives and materialistic things. Therefore, we can say that studies about earth science are very important for us. Likewise, the study of oceans by oceanographic provides information about the composition, organisms, and different oceanic processes. About 71% of earth surface is covered by oceans which in turn serve as a source of food, other commodities, and energy. Earth’s climate is greatly affected by oceanic processes.
As mentioned, there are four main branches of Earth Science namely geology, meteorology, oceanography, and astronomy. The word “geology” literally means the study of the geosphere, the rocky areas of the earth since “geos” refers to “related to earth” and “logia” means “study of”. Therefore, the main areas focused under geology are a study of types of rocks, earthquakes, volcanoes, erosion, movement of continents etc. It clearly shows that geology has a broad spectrum of studies.
Meteorology refers to the study of the atmosphere and its weather and climatic conditions. The literal meaning of word “meteorology” is, “meteor= high in sky + logia = to study”, the study of weather conditions. Therefore, the main areas focused under meteorology are a study of structure and component of atmospheric layers and the processes going on therein, global air circulation, humidity, precipitation, pressure, transfer of heat, temperature pattern with altitude and attitudes etc. Therefore, meteorology provides us knowledge about weather conditions of different parts of the earth. Since weather and climatic conditions on earth, in major part, are determined by oceanic processes; meteorology is considerably associated with oceanography.
Oceanography is the study of the structure of oceans present on the earth surface, types of organisms present therein and the oceanic process that affect our climate. Oceans play an important role in driving the warm water around the earth and thereby affect the heating of the atmosphere. Heating of temperature, in turn, affect the climate and weather of our globe. Other major concern of oceanographer’s age of seafloor, chemical properties of oceanic water, effects of the oceanic process on climatic changes, kind of organisms present in oceans etc. It is only oceanography that proved the existence of giant squid which was otherwise thought to have been extinct with dinosaurs.
Earth and space science deals with the study of physics of earth, its atmosphere, different natural physical processes going on therein and then position of our planet in space, the nearby celestial bodies and the internal and external processes that exert their effects on earth functioning. It basically includes geology, oceanography, meteorology, ecology and astronomy.
The importance of earth science can be understood by looking at the areas covered by its different branches. Since it is the study of oceans which occupy 71% of our planet’s surface and serve as a most important determinant of global weather and climatic conditions, oceanography occupies its own space with other important branches of science. Earth is the only planet that supports the life, and also, the only planet wherein life is continuously sustained. While Oceans are the site of origin of life on earth and an important determinant of earth’s atmospheric conditions and other environmental processes which in turn serve as a determinant of life forms and life processes on different parts of the earth. Prediction of natural calamities like earthquakes, hurricanes, storms saves the loss of lives and things that would have happened if we would not have taken the precautionary measures based on the meteorological predictions. Likewise, the study of fossil forms present under earth surface has given us the knowledge about the life forms present at the particular geological time and also establishes relationship between ancestral and living forms. Dating of rocks found in different parts of earth provide information about the formation of rocks in ancient time. Therefore, earth science is one of the important science branches to study about.