The Environment
100 Pages
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The Environment


Gain access to the library to view online
Learn more
100 Pages


The Environment sheds light on the biosphere, the water cycle, erosion, ecosystems and climates. It also delves into environmental threats, including the depletion of the ozone layer, acid rain and deforestation.
The Environment is an excellent family reference book for use at home or school by readers interested in understanding and preserving the world we live in.



Published by
Published 05 September 2012
Reads 4
EAN13 9782764408957
Language English
Document size 36 MB

Legal information: rental price per page 0.0027€. This information is given for information only in accordance with current legislation.


THE ENVIRNMENT Understanding the Delicate Balance of Life on Earth
THE ENVIRONMENT Underst anding the Delicate Balance of Life on Ear th
Raymond Martin
Kathleen Wynd
Carl Pelletier Anouk Noël
Jocelyn Gardner
Marc Lalumière
Alain Lemire
Émilie Bellemare
Stéphanie Lanctôt
Gilles Vézina
Nathalie Gignac
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing by QA International.
ISBN : 978-2-7644-0895-7
© QA International, 2008. All rights reserved.
Environment was created and produced by QA International 329 De la Commune West, 3rd Floor Montreal, Quebec H2Y 2E1 Canada T : 514.499.3000 F : 514.499.3010
Editorial DirectorEditor-in-ChiefWritersContent RevisionTranslatorsProofreaderGraphic DesignerProduction Manager
Cover: © François Fortin — U.S. Geological Survey/J. Kauahikaua • p. 11 NASA/GSFC/MITI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Scie nce Team • p. 13 © Royalty-Free/CORBIS• p. 14 OAR/National Undersea Research Program (NURP) • p. 17 F.O.L.P. • p. 25 © Stéphane Batigne — © John Simmons, OnT V — The Geological Society of London• p. 30 Bureau of Land Management by Nick Seifert — © Mélanie Morin — © IDRC/E. George — © Jean-Marc Abel • p. 31 www.claquin. com — F.O.L.P. — © Guido Bauer — © Stéphanie Lanctôt —© Jean-Claude Corbeil • p. 32 — © Centre d’études nordiques — © François Fortin • p. 33 © Ann Badjura • p. 35 © Hélène Gauthier • p. 37 © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution • p. 50 © IDRC/D.Marchand — USACE — © IDRC/D. Marchand — DOE/NREL, photo by Roger Taylor — © Craig Nagy — © Magalie L’Abbé • p. 57 © IDRC/D. Marchand• p. 58 USDA/NRCS • p. 59 ORR/NOS/NOAA • p. 64 © Jaxon Klein — NPS Photo Yellowstone • p. 65 © John Walker © Jean-Marc Boutelli er/ © Pierre-Bernard Demoulin © Einar Timdal, Natural History Museum, University of Oslo © The Arboretum of Penn State Behrend — © Tony Miller, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh • p. 73 © Marianne Moore• p. 75 © Ministère des Ressources Naturelles du Québec — © Nicholas Ang — NOAA Corps/John Bortniak • p. 76 © IDRC/S. Colvey • p. 79 FEMA News Photo/Photo by Leif Skoogfors• p. 83 USACE/photo by Adr ien Lamarre • p. 84 © J.S. Peterson. USDA NRCS NPDC • p. 85 © Laura I. Kansanen • p. 87 NOAA, NOAA/Te rr y Taylor, Colorado State Patrol• p. 89 Jocelyn Augustino/FEMA • p. 91 U.S. Navy • p. 92 U.S. Geological Survey/Photo by S.R. Brantley — U.S. Geological Survey /Photo by J.D. Griggs — U.S. Geological Survey — © John Simmons, OnTV, The Geological Society of London.
Rielle Lévesque
Jean-Yves Ahern
Sonia Buffot
Manuela Bertoni
Mathieu Douville
François Fortin Stéphane Batigne Marie-Anne Legault Julie Cailliau Martine Podesto Anne Dupuis Johanne Champagne Josée Bourbonnière Nathalie Fredette François Turcotte-Goulet Claire de Guillebon Kathe Roth Donna Vekteris Gordon Martin Veronica Schami Anne Tremblay Odile Perpillou
Graphic Artists
Pascal Goyette
 6  8  10  12  14  16  18  20  22  24
 70  72  76  78
The environment
Biosphere Atmosphere Watercourses Lakes Oceans and seas Coastlines Inside the soil Deserts Cold lands Erosion
The greenhouse effect Global warming Desertification El Niño and La Niña
 28  30  32  34  36  38  40  42  44
 82  84  86  88  90  92  94
Living beings
Ecosystems Plant formations Temperate forests Tropical rain forest Life in the desert Life in the ocean In the depths Between land and sea Animals of cold lands
Tornadoes Forest fires Hurricanes Floods and landslides Tsunamis Volcanic eruptions Earthquakes
 48  52  54  56  60  62  64  66
Air pollution The ozone layer Acid rain Water pollution Forests in danger Threatened animals Protected areas Recycling
T H E E N V I R O N M E N T | 4  5
Biosphere Atmosphere Watercourses Lakes Oceans and seas
Coastlines Inside the soil Deserts Cold lands Erosion
T h e e n v i r o n m e n t
Earth is the only planet known to harbor life. Together all of the zones that can be inhabited by living beings are called the biosphere. Water, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, and all the other chemical elements essential to life circulate through different parts of the biosphere.
Life appeared on Earth about 3.8 billion years ago and first evolved in the water of the oceans; later, it colonized freshwater, land, and the atmosphere. Our planet presents an extraordinary diversity of natural environments, from ocean depths to the highest mountain peaks, including caves, lakes, and coastlines. Life has spread and adapted to all these zones, forming a complex world in which living beings interact constantly with their surroundings.
T H E E N V I R O N M E N T | 6  7
Biosphere Although there are all sorts of hypotheses, none of which has been confirmed by scientific evidence, Earth is still the only planet known to support life. Living organisms exist in many and varied environments, but their distribution is concentrated within a thin layer of earth, water, and air called the biosphere. This habitable part of Earth constitutes a complex community, where animal and plant species live in a close relationship with their surroundings by transmitting matter and energy to each other.
BETWEEN EARTH, SEA, AND AIR The biosphere exists in three main physical environments that constantly interact to preserve, reproduce, and develop life: earth, water, and air (atmosphere). The chemical exchanges that take place between these three elements tend to balance themselves naturally by recycling matter and energy. The earth is the solid outer layer of the planet: continents, islands, and ocean floors. Almost all plant species sink their roots into its rock and soil, while a great number of animal species live in contact with it. Some living beings, such as anaerobic bacteria, develop within the ground, while others need air to live.
Water , which includes both salt water and freshwater, is shared between oceans, rivers, lakes, and underground water. This layer harbors a great variety of living organisms, from microscopic algae to huge sea mammals.
The atmosphere is the layer of air within which life can develop. This environment just above Earth’s surface is very rich in living beings. It also helps to move and disseminate spores, seeds, and microorganisms.
ThePrecambrianistheoldestandlongestperiodinthehistoryofEarth.During this period, 4 billion years ago, the terrestrial crust was formed, followed by the continents and oceans. The presence of an oxygen-poor atmosphere resulted in the formation of more and more complex molecules, and led to a remarkable phenomenon: life. The first living beings (algae, bacteria) appeared in the oceans. It took more than 3 billion years for life to emerge onto solid ground, which happened less than 500 million years ago.
Cyanobacteria, commonly called blue-green algae, were the first microorganisms to appear on Earth.
HEIGHT OF THE BIOSPHERE Life is found only within a relatively thin layer: highest bird just a little more than 23,000 m separate flight the lowest point of the biosphere (at the (8,000 m) bottom of the oceans) from the highest limit of plant life point (near the tropopause). (7,000 m)
limit of land-based animal life (6,300 m)
limit of human habitat (5,000 m)
The part of the biosphere between –100 and 2,800 m contains 95% of theliving organismson the planet.
depth limit for fish (-8,400 m)
Invertebrates(sea cucumbers) have been observed at a depth of 10,000 m.
tropopause12,000 m atmosphere
highest mountain (Mount Everest) 8,848 m
sea level 0 m
deepest point (Mariana Trench) –11,034 m
T H E E N V I R O N M E N T | 8  9
Atmosphere The atmosphere, defined as the gaseous envelope surrounding Earth, does not have well-defined edges. Half of its air molecules are concentrated in a very thin layer, 5 km thick, but there are still traces of air at more than 1,000 km altitude. Because of their protective function, the different layers of the atmosphere play an essential role in the existence of life on Earth. All of the major meteorological phenomena also occur in the atmosphere.
THE COMPOSITION OF AIR Thecompositionoftheatmosphereremainsstableatallaltitudes: nitrogen and oxygen represent 99% of its volume. Other gases, including argon and neon, are also found in air, but in much smaller quantities. The proportions of water vapor and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere vary, but are always very small.
Theatmosphereand clouds reflect 30% of solar radiation.
nitrogen (78%)
argon (0.93%)
Solar radiation
In the Sun’s core, nuclear fusion reactions maintain a temperature of 15,000,000°C. This huge amount of energy, constantly radiated into space in the form of rays, heats Earth’s surface and enables life to develop on the planet.
oxygen (21%)
carbon dioxide (0.03%)