When we study Earth science, what we are really studying is a vast jumble of interconnected systems that function together.

For example, rivers transport water from inland mountains to coastal plains, but they also carry sediments to be deposited on the sea floor as part of the rock cycle … dissolved nitrogen to fertilize (or over-fertilize) the river deltas … organic carbon to nourish the deep ocean bottom…

The way in which the various components interact is staggering to comprehend even for the initiated scientist. It is through the understanding of these cycles that environmental professionals are able to make predictions about the condition of the biosphere in the future.

Explore the Schematics

All content by Olejniczak and Swanson (2001)

Carbon Cycle

Carbon is the building block of life. Without it, there would be no organic chemistry, and therefore no life as we know it.


IBIS stands for the Integrated Biosphere Simulator and it is a computer model used to model the Earth’s biosphere.

Nitrogen Cycle

Nitrogen is a necessary component in many of the complex acids and proteins used by life on Earth.

Ozone in the Atmosphere

Ozone is gas that natually occurs in our atmosphere. Chemically speaking, it is a molecule containing three oxygen atoms.

Radiation Budget

Like any budget, the Earth’s radiation budget represents a balance between incoming and outgoing stuff. In this case that stuff is radiation.

Rock Cycle

The rock cycle is a conceptual model used to understand geological processes surrounding the lifecycle of the Earth’s rocks.

Water Cycle

Water covers more than two-thirds of the Earth. It is present in all of the living systems on the planet, and its transport drives weather patterns as well as climate in general.