People in different disciplines of science use the term environment differently. For instance, geologists use the term environment to refer to geological features like fault lines, volcanoes, and mountains. Astronomy and space research also commonly use the term environment. The environment of outer space refers to the properties of white light and very high-energy radiation. The environment of our galaxy is very similar to the universe, but it is a lot less constraining than the universe’s to begin with.
A geologist studies an environment in order to determine whether or not the site where he/she is working corresponds to the characteristics of an Earth environment. For instance, if the site has a large concentration of fossils (i.e. a lot of shells), this would imply that there are living organisms present in the geologic strata. If there are no signs of life, then the strata are considered to be devoid of any life, which is a nice definition of our planet’s environment. Many people who study the earth’s biogeography use this same technique to characterizing a particular area of an Earthly environment.
The term biotic refers to non-organisms. These could be either living or non-living; they may also be categorized as symbiotic or autotrophic. A symbiotic environment refers to one in which one organism does not require the services of another in order for that organism to exist. Examples of symbiotic environments include the life found on the ocean’s surface, which requires the fish as its food source, and the ocean flora that is present in its upper parts, which are totally reliant on the sunlight that keeps the ocean water alive.
An atmosphere is defined as the amount of pressure that exists at a given area in a given earth system. Any gas or liquid expands to a certain volume when heated to a specific temperature. This expanding gas or liquid acts like a fluid when pressure is applied to it. The atmosphere consists of all the gaseous constituents of the earth, and thus is known as the environment and is also a key factor in the earths ability to hold heat.
An ecosystem is a term used in environmental science that compares and classifies ecosystems, or the living organisms within them. An ecosystem is composed of soil, air, and water – with each having their own specific characteristics. Examples of ecosystems are found in all areas of the earth where living organisms live. The diversity of ecosystems is the basis of many scientific disciplines.
The final term we will discuss here is the biotic or abiotic factor. This factor refers to any one of the number of forces acting together to maintain an environment. Examples of biotic factors include the earths orbit around the sun, the earths inner structure and composition, the earths atmosphere, and the earths soil. All these factors play a role in the earths environment and their ability to sustain life.