A person fascinated by natural objects like glaciers and crystals or amazed by scenic landscapes ranging from deserts to swamps should know an academic discipline that focuses on solving the mysteries surrounding Earth’s history and fate.
What is Earth Science and Earth Scientists Do
Earth sciences focus on the study of how and why the planet works. This field explores the many layers of the Earth and explains how these pieces fit together in a cohesive structure. The interdisciplinary topic not only provides insight into the mechanics of solid parts of the planet, but also illustrates the inner workings of liquid and gaseous parts. It addresses questions about the origins and evolution of the atmosphere, the various land formations and bodies of water.
This branch of science includes research into what the globe might have looked like in the past, what it might look like in the future, and how it fits into the universe as a whole, making it easy to compare with other planets like Venus and Mars.
Earth science is inextricably linked with astronomy, which is the study of outer space, as the behavior of the sun and moon influences conditions on Earth and there are many space hazards that could potentially destroy the Earth, such as asteroids and comets.
Earth science is very relevant to the well-being of humanity, as it enables people to predict and prepare for natural disasters such as hurricanes and volcanic eruptions. It also helps people locate and extract valuable raw materials that are hidden underground, ranging from fresh water and fossil fuels to precious minerals and metals.
“From where some cultures prefer to grow, to why there is a hill on the horizon, to the shape of the coastline, every natural feature of a landscape can be explained by earth sciences,” said Gemma Cassidy, Ph.D. degree in earth sciences, wrote in an email. “Beyond the natural world, an Earth scientist will have been involved in bringing electricity and / or gas to your home and gasoline / diesel to your car, as well as researching the rare earth elements for your smartphone. Perhaps most importantly, these are the Earth scientists working to understand where we can live safely and helping to assess how you mitigate risk in a city in a area prone to volcanoes / earthquakes / hurricanes. “
Types of Earth Sciences
Here are some of the main categories within Earth Sciences, a huge academic discipline that encompasses multiple fields of study.
- Atmospheric Sciences
- Climatology or climate science
- Environmental sciences
Steven A. Hauck II, professor and president of earth, environmental, and planetary sciences at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, notes that some Earth scientists are focusing on water while others focus on oceans or rocks. Earth scientists can examine the Earth’s core or its magnetic field, he says.
How to become an Earth scientist
Although the majority of Earth scientists have a bachelor’s degree, this degree is not a requirement for all Earth science jobs. “Most scientists on Earth have a four-year college degree,” Hauck says. “I wouldn’t say everything.”
Future earth scientists should consider earning a four-year degree in this field, he says, and certain types of earth science professions may require graduate school. A master’s or doctorate is usually required for a research career, Hauck explains.
Doug Gouzie, professor of geology at Missouri State University, advises future Earth scientists to acquire a “good and solid foundation” in mathematics and chemistry, as knowledge of these two fields is invaluable in the field. field of earth sciences.
What you can do with an earth science degree
A degree in earth sciences is marketable in the energy and mining sectors. The degree is also useful in positions that focus on environmental sustainability and those that may be based in government agencies or private sector companies, Hauck says.
“Earth sciences are a very large field,” he explains. “It’s not just about rocks or fossils. It’s about understanding the world around us and how it works. So there are many different ways to do it.”
Cassidy, who oversees various scientific journals related to her field of study for academic publisher Wiley, notes that Earth scientists can find a variety of jobs.
“Oil, gas and mineral extraction has always been an option for Earth scientists, but there is a huge range of other careers available, such as geoenvironmental work, geotechnical engineering or hydrogeology. “, she says. “There is also the possibility of pursuing a career as a researcher and continuing to study pressing topics like climate change or natural hazards. Other less direct options include teaching and, of course, publishing.”
What makes Earth science unique
Curiosity about how the Earth compares to other planets and what goes on beneath its surface led Hauck to study and discover the differences and similarities between Earth and other planets.
“Where we live is this really thin layer on top of a huge planet that’s mostly under our feet, isn’t it? And so I was very excited to try and relate what we are seeing on the surface with what is going on in the 99% of the planet that is under our feet and trying to figure that out, ”says Hauck, adding that he was also intrigued by the possibility of analyzing the environments aliens.
Gouzie says one of the best parts of working as an Earth scientist is getting out there and having adventures in interesting places like caves and coastlines.
Unlike chemists who frequently use undiluted substances, scientists on Earth typically treat raw materials with a mishmash of ingredients, Gouzie explains. “I can see the variety of all the impurities – the blemishes – and I find that kind of neat, because it’s kind of like psychologists dealing with people,” he says. “You are not dealing with something pure and completely predictable.”
The diversity of subjects under the umbrella of earth sciences makes the field special, according to researchers in the discipline. Earth sciences incorporate ideas from biology, chemistry, and physics, so they tend to be a practical area of study, the researchers say.
Gouzie previously worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researching landfill leaks, and he investigated how hazardous substances can travel through groundwater and threaten human health. He now focuses on caves and sinkholes. Because the earth sciences examine tangible objects and address a wide range of problems, the field may be particularly appealing to some budding scientists, especially those who would prefer to focus on real-world problems, he says.
There are difficult aspects of earth sciences. For example, some inaccessible parts of the Earth, such as its inner core, are impossible to observe directly. Scientists need to be creative in finding ways to infer information about these remote areas, for example by monitoring seismic wave activity using machines.
In addition, Earth scientists sometimes have to work in harsh or dangerous environments such as arctic or volcanic regions.
Rachel Barr, vice president of sustainability at UBQ Materials – an Israeli company that converts waste into recyclable thermoplastics – notes an urgent need for people to study earth sciences.
“There will never be enough people who have studied this and are committed to this field,” says Barr, who earned a master’s degree in environmental science from Yale University in Connecticut. “The more people involved, the better it is for society as a whole, as well as for the planet.”