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Earth and Enviornment Systems
2. Systems Science Objectives
Undergraduate 1

Additional Engineering Flashcards





 Know the three types of systems, and the characteristics that distinguish them.


isolated system - no exchange of energy of material across the system boundary

closed system - energy can be exchanged across the system boundary, but materials can't

open system - both energy and material can be exchanged across system boundary

Which of the three system types is it most useful to classify the Earth as, and what does this classification imply about the internal conditions of the Earth system?

It is mostly useful to consider the Earth as a closed system

- the amount of matter in a closed system is fixed and finite

- matter and energy exchanges within the system make subsystem interdependent

-if changes are made in one part of a closed system, the results of those changes will eventually affect other parts


When constructing systems models (a.k.a. box models), what are the definitions of the following terms: reservoir, flux, residence time, turnover time, source, sink, perturbation, positive feedback, and negative feedback.


reservior - a place where material is held for a period of time

flux - the movement of material between reservoir

residence time - the average time a unit of matter (atom, molecule, compound) spends in a given reservoir)turnover time - the amount of time it takes a resorvoir to gain a completely new set of materialsource - inputs to a given reservoir sink - outputs to a given reservoirperturbation - a sudden change in the source and/or sink fluxes to/form a reservoirfeedback - occurs when an initial change in a particular reservoir (subsystem) causes change in other reservoirs which result in further change in 1st reservoirpositive feedback - an inital change in a reservoir leads to changes in the system which cause a further change in the initial reservoir in the same directionnegative feedback - an initial change in a reservoir leads to changes in the system which reverse the change in the initial reservoir

What are the three “ultimate” natural sources of energy for the Earth system?

solar energy, geothermal energy, tidal (gravatational) energy

Know the first and second laws of thermodynamics.


1st law - the energy involved in any physical or chemical change is neither created nor destroyed, but merely changed from one form to another

 2nd law - energy always changes from a more useful, more concentrated form to a less useful, less concentrated form


Know what to call the movement of material between the subsystems of the Ecosphere.

Biogeochemical cycling
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