Female researcher examining insect structure in forest

Understanding Earth's Evolving Systems

Exploring Earth as a system from the core to the magnetosphere, biodiversity and conservation, and the intersection of the natural and built worlds.

The Earth consists of the biosphere (the living world), geosphere (the natural physical world), and anthrosphere (the built world). This includes everything: the water we drink, the air we breathe, the land we live on, and the life we interact with as individuals and as a species.

Understanding the interactions between our living, physical and built worlds calls for holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to predict virtually all aspects of global change. Can we alter the course of global warming and climate change? How do we ensure clean and accessible water for all? How are environmental stressors driving a sixth mass extinction, and how do they affect our health?



With advances in sensing technology and space-based observation, we are beginning to understand our Earth as one planet among countless others. What are the physical conditions that make Earth special? How does our interaction with the Sun affect our planetary environment? How does human activity affect the geosphere?

Making significant progress on such questions will have critical implications for our future. In doing so, we use Earth system data from our research facilities both on and off campus, including Advancing Canadian Wastewater Assets (ACWA), a world-class water research station on the banks of the Bow River in the City of Calgary, and from our networks of sensors on the ground, in the air, and in space. We use data science to make sense of the big data that goes hand-in-hand with studying Earth’s systems.

Explore this topic

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