Chapters 1 - 3 + Oil spills

Judy Nguyen

Unit One : Sustaining Earth's ecosystems

Chapter one: Biomes and ecosystems are divisions of the biosphere.

1.1 Biomes
Biomes are large divisions on the Earth, these divisions are differentiate by many factors; elevation, altitude, percipitation, temperature, and ocean currents. In the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, marine[aquatic] and terrestrial[land] biomes are effected. The oil spill caused an unbalance in the natural cycles and systems.

A map of the worlds biomes.
external image biomes.gif

1.2 Ecosystems
This chapter is about the niches, or roles, or organisms in ecosystems and their interactions between each other and abiotic components of the ecosystem. Abiotic components are the non-living parts of ecosystems, one example would be soil.

Chapter Two: Energy flow and nutrient cycles support life in ecosystems.

2.1 Energy Flow in Ecosystems
Energy flows naturally in the marine and terrestrial biomes of the Gulf of Mexico, but are being unbalanced by the large amounts of toxic waste and oils being spilled into the Gulf. Living organisms gain their energy from either the sun [producers] or consuming other [consumers]. There are 4 trophic levels; the first being the Primary producers, Primary Consumers, Secondary Consumers and finally Tertiary Consumers.

2.2 Nutrient Cycles in Ecosystems
In this chapter there are three cycles mentioned, the Carbon cycle, Nitrogen cycle and Phosphorus cycle. The most concerned cycle is the Nitrogen cycle, in the Gulf of Mexico huge amounts of Carbon are being released into the marine and terrestrial ecosystems. This can set the natural cycle off balance, and ultimately creating a negative effect such as bioaccumulation.

2.3 Effects of Bioaccumulation on Ecosystems
Smaller organisms may be intoxicated or contaminated by toxic waste, eventually bioaccumulating in species in the higher trophic levels and then eventually to humans. An example of this would be the fish on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Keystone species also have a threat of being contaminated, keystone species are vital to ecosystems, if they are to be damaged it could cause a chain reaction to other species that depend on them.

Chapter Three: Ecosystems continually change over time

3.1 How Changes Occur Naturally in Ecosystems
Natural changes occur over time, this is called Ecological Succession. These changes are usually slow and happen over many years, and are to help species adapt and live more easily. They are very different from the changes done by oil spills such as the one in the Gulf of Mexico.

3.2 How Humans Influence Ecosystems
Oil spills are perfect examples of humans can influence ecosystems, in this case a negative influence. Humans make up a large part of the Earth's population, therefore our actions may effect other species as well. If the oil is not removed quickly enough, many species may suffer because of the high levels of oil and other toxins.

3.3 How Introduced Species Affect Ecosystems
Species can be introduced to the gulf to help clean up the spill. This process is called bioremediation. This along with many other cleanup methods such as burning and skimming may increase the rate of recovery.

"Oil Spill Gulf of Mexico Live Feed" , CNM News Network, June 5th 2010

"Sustaining Earth's Ecosystems", BC Science 10, June 1st 2010

"Community and Ecosystem Dynamics", Online Biology Book, June 1st 2010

"Gulf of Mexico large marine ecosystem", Encyclopedia of Earth, June 6th 2010


"Describe how climate can be influenced by human activities "

Judy Nguyen
How humans influence climate.

Climate can be influenced by many factors, one of those factors is human activity. Years following the industrial revolution have seemingly increased CO2 levels and many other pollutants. These increased levels of pollutants have an effect called the "Enhanced Greenhouse Effect". They add onto the earths natural Greenhouse effect, which help maintain a stable and livable temperature range for the earth. Enhanced Greenhouse Effect is when there is too much heat being kept, causing "Global Warming".

How do humans influence climate? One example is the use of cars, many cars run on fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas. When those fossil fuels are burned, they emit large amounts of pollutants.These pollutants further enhance the Earth's natural Greenhouse effect.

external image 6a010536b58035970c0120a62f8216970c-800wi

Deforestation also has an impact on the climate, trees are the Earth's natural filters that filter out C02 from the atmosphere. With a declining number of trees, the Earth is not able to filter out enough C02 to keep the Earth from warming too much.

The use of Chlorofluorocarbons, a group of man-made greenhouse gasses, in air conditioners and refrigerators is banned in many developed parts in the world because it's ability to emit heat is over 4750 times greater than C02.

Water Vapour is also a Greenhouse Gas, though humans do not produce enough to substantially influence climate. It is one of the most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.

Aerosols are particles in the atmosphere, and both contain naturally and man-made compounds. The particles vary in size, concentration and composition. They also contribute to climate change.

Another example is the livestock and agriculture that humans maintain. Livestock and animal manure produce 18 percent of the total amount of the methane in the atmosphere. Methane is a gas that is very efficient at absorbing and emitting thermal energy.

Indicators of the Influence of Human Activities on Climate Change:
Measurements of the concentrations of CO2, CH4, NO2 and other Greenhouse Gasses over time. external image CO2_conc.jpg
external image CH4_conc.jpg
Source: Encyclopedia of the Atmospheric Environment -

"Humans and Climate Change", BC Science 10, 24 April 2010, <>

"Greenhouse Gasses", Ocean Service , 25 April 2010, <>

"Human Influence on Climate Change", Environ Business, 22 April 2010, <>

"Indicators of Human Influence", Encyclopedia of the Atmospheric Environment, 26 April 2010, <>

"Does Increase in CO2 cause global warming?", C3 Headlines, 24 April 2010, <>