Environment Environment means anything that surrounds us. It can be living (biotic) or non-living (abiotic) things. It includes physical, chemical and other natural forces. Living things live in their environment. They constantly interact with it and adapt themselves to conditions in their environment. In the environment there are different interactions between animals, plants, soil, water, and other living and non-living things.
Since everything is part of the environment of something else, the word environment is used to talk about many things. People in different fields of knowledge use the word environment differently. Electromagnetic environment is radio waves and other electromagnetic radiation and magnetic fields. The environment of galaxy refers to conditions of interstellar medium.
In psychology and medicine, a person's environment is the people, physical things and places that the person lives with. The environment affects the growth and development of the person. It affects the person's behavior, body, mind and heart.
The living conditions of living organisms in an environment are affected by the weather or climate changes in the environment.
In biology and ecology, the environment is all of the natural materials and living things, If those things are natural, it is a natural environment.
Environment includes the living and non-living things that an organism interacts with, or has an effect on it. Living elements that an organism interacts with are known as biotic elements: animals, plants, etc., abiotic elements are non living things which include air, water, sunlight etc. Studying the environment means studying the relationships among these various things. An example of interactions between non-living and living things is plants getting their minerals from the soil and making food using sunlight. Predation, an organism eating another, is an example of interaction between living things.
Some people call themselves environmentalists. They think we must protect the natural environment, to keep it safe. Things in the natural environment that we value are called natural resources. For example; fish, insects, and forests. These are renewable resources because they come back naturally when we use them. Non-renewable resources are important things in the environment that are limited for example, ores and fossil fuels after a few thousand years. Some things in the natural environment can kill people, such as lightning.
Ecological units which are natural systems without much human interference. These include all vegetation, microorganisms, soil, rocks, atmosphere, and natural events.
Universal natural resources and physical phenomenon which lack clear-cut boundaries. These include climate, air, water, energy, radiation, electric charge, and magnetism.
For the biology term, see Biophysical environment. For other uses, see Environment. "Natural force" redirects here. For the album by Bonnie Tyler, see Natural Force.
Land management has preserved the natural characteristics of Hopetoun Falls, Australia while allowing ample access for visitors.
An image of the Sahara desert from satellite. It is the world's largest hot desert and third-largest desert after the polar deserts.
The natural environment or natural world encompasses all living and non-living things occurring naturally, meaning in this case not artificial. The term is most often applied to the Earth or some parts of Earth. This environment encompasses the interaction of all living species, climate, weather and natural resources that affect human survival and economic activity. The concept of the natural environment can be distinguished as components:
Complete ecological units that function as natural systems without massive civilized human intervention, including all vegetation, microorganisms, soil, rocks, atmosphere, and natural phenomena that occur within their boundaries and their nature.
Universal natural resources and physical phenomena that lack clear-cut boundaries, such as air, water, and climate, as well as energy, radiation, electric charge, and magnetism, not originating from civilized human actions.
In contrast to the natural environment is the built environment. Built environments are where humans have fundamentally transformed landscapes such as urban settings and agricultural land conversion, the natural environment is greatly changed into a simplified human environment. Even acts which seem less extreme, such as building a mud hut or a photovoltaic system in the desert, the modified environment becomes an artificial one. Though many animals build things to provide a better environment for themselves, they are not human, hence beaver dams, and the works of mound-building termites, are thought of as natural.
People cannot find absolutely natural environments on Earth, and naturalness usually varies in a continuum, from 100% natural in one extreme to 0% natural in the other. The massive environmental changes of humanity in the Anthropocene have fundamentally effected all natural environments: including from climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution from plastic and other chemicals in the air and water. More precisely, we can consider the different aspects or components of an environment, and see that their degree of naturalness is not uniform. If, for instance, in an agricultural field, the mineralogic composition and the structure of its soil are similar to those of an undisturbed forest soil, but the structure is quite different.
An ocean is a major body of saline water, and a component of the hydrosphere. Approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth (an area of some 362 million square kilometers) is covered by ocean, a continuous body of water that is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas. More than half of this area is over 3,000 meters (9,800 ft) deep. Average oceanic salinity is around 35 parts per thousand (ppt) (3.5%), and nearly all seawater has a salinity in the range of 30 to 38 ppt. Though generally recognized as several separate oceans, these waters comprise one global, interconnected body of salt water often referred to as the World Ocean or global ocean. The deep seabeds are more than half the Earth's surface, and are among the least-modified natural environments. The major oceanic divisions are defined in part by the continents, various archipelagos, and other criteria: these divisions are (in descending order of size) the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean and the Arctic Ocean.
Atmosphere, climate and weather
Atmospheric gases scatter blue light more than other wavelengths, creating a blue halo when seen from space.
A view of Earth's troposphere from an airplane
Lightning is an atmospheric discharge of electricity accompanied by thunder, which occurs during thunderstorms and certain other natural conditions. The atmosphere of the Earth serves as a key factor in sustaining the planetary ecosystem. The thin layer of gases that envelops the Earth is held in place by the planet's gravity. Dry air consists of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 1% argon and other inert gases, and carbon dioxide. The remaining gases are often referred to as trace gases. The atmosphere includes greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone. Filtered air includes trace amounts of many other chemical compounds. Air also contains a variable amount of water vapor and suspensions of water droplets and ice crystals seen as clouds. Many natural substances may be present in tiny amounts in an unfiltered air sample, including dust, pollen and spores, sea spray, volcanic ash, and meteoroids. Various industrial pollutants also may be present, such as chlorine (elementary or in compounds), fluorine compounds, elemental mercury, and sulphur compounds such as sulphur dioxide (SO2).
The ozone layer of the Earth's atmosphere plays an important role in reducing the amount of ultraviolet (UV) radiation that reaches the surface. As DNA is readily damaged by UV light, this serves to protect life at the surface. The atmosphere also retains heat during the night, thereby reducing the daily temperature extremes.
Earth's atmosphere can be divided into five main layers. These layers are mainly determined by whether temperature increases or decreases with altitude. From highest to lowest, these layers are:
Exosphere: The outermost layer of Earth's atmosphere extends from the exobase upward, mainly composed of hydrogen and helium.
Thermosphere: The top of the thermosphere is the bottom of the exosphere, called the exobase. Its height varies with solar activity and ranges from about 350–800 km (220–500 mi; 1,150,000–2,620,000 ft). The International Space Station orbits in this layer, between 320 and 380 km (200 and 240 mi).
Mesosphere: The mesosphere extends from the stratopause to 80–85 km (50–53 mi; 262,000–279,000 ft). It is the layer where most meteors burn up upon entering the atmosphere.
Stratosphere: The stratosphere extends from the tropopause to about 51 km (32 mi; 167,000 ft). The stratopause, which is the boundary between the stratosphere and mesosphere, typically is at 50 to 55 km (31 to 34 mi; 164,000 to 180,000 ft).
Troposphere: The troposphere begins at the surface and extends to between 7 km (23,000 ft) at the poles and 17 km (56,000 ft) at the equator, with some variation due to weather. The troposphere is mostly heated by transfer of energy from the surface, so on average the lowest part of the troposphere is warmest and temperature decreases with altitude. The tropopause is the boundary between the troposphere and stratosphere.