Earth, Hydrosphere

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Summary

Earth, also known as the world, Terra, or Gaia, is the third planet from the Sun, the densest planet in the Solar System, the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets, and the only celestial body known to accommodate life. It is home to millions of species, including billions of humans who depend upon its biosphere and minerals. The Earth's human population is divided among about two hundred independent states that interact through diplomacy, conflict, travel, trade, and media.

Details

The abundance of water on Earth's surface is a unique feature that distinguishes the "Blue Planet" from others in the Solar System. The Earth's hydrosphere consists chiefly of the oceans, but technically includes all water surfaces in the world, including inland seas, lakes, rivers, and underground waters down to a depth of 2,000 m. The deepest underwater location is Challenger Deep of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean with a depth of 10,911.4 m.

The mass of the oceans is approximately 1.35 metric tons, or about 1/4400 of the total mass of the Earth. The oceans cover an area of with a mean depth of , resulting in an estimated volume of . If all the land on Earth were spread evenly, water would rise to an altitude of more than 2.7 km.The total surface area of the Earth is . To first approximation, the average depth would be the ratio of the two, or 2.7 km. About 97.5% of the water is saline, while the remaining 2.5% is fresh water. Most fresh water, about 68.7%, is currently ice.

The average salinity of the Earth's oceans is about 35 grams of salt per kilogram of sea water (3.5% salt). Most of this salt was released from volcanic activity or extracted from cool, igneous rocks. The oceans are also a reservoir of dissolved atmospheric gases, which are essential for the survival of many aquatic life forms. Sea water has an important influence on the world's climate, with the oceans acting as a large heat reservoir. Shifts in the oceanic temperature distribution can cause significant weather shifts, such as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation.

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External Links

  • WikipediaEarth – ProfileEarth – Temperature and Precipitation ExtremesEarth – Climate Changes Cause Shape to Change

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