The Earth System

January 24, 2001


Provided by: Martin Ruzek, USRA
Summary authors & editors: Martin Ruzek

Everything that happens on our planet is part of a complex interaction between air, water, land and life, known as the Earth system. Earth system processes are driven by energy from the sun, and are so complexly interwoven that no individual or single university or governemnt agency has the necessary expertise to fully understand them. Interdisciplinary collaboration and cooperation is the best way to study the Earth system. People are part of the system as well, and their interaction within its elements is perhaps the most difficult part of all to understand. NASA's research strategy for studying Earth addresses these issues with the overarching question "How is the Earth changing and what are the consequences for life on Earth?"

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