Part 4—Draw Connections Between the Local and Global Processes

Reservoirs and Fluxes

Today, Earth system scientists are studying reservoirs and fluxes in attempts to understand their impact on Earth's environment. What are reservoirs and fluxes? Here is a simple example. There is a fixed amount of water on Earth. That water is divided up into smaller parts, called reservoirs. Earth's largest reservoir of water is in the ocean. Another reservoir is the water that is frozen in ice caps and glaciers. A third reservoir is the water that is in the ground. Another reservoir is atmospheric water, called water vapor.

Flux refers to the movement of water from one reservoir into another. In the work you just completed for Greenville, PA, the reservoir of water in the soil became smaller as spring advanced towards summer, and just the reverse happened as fall advanced towards winter.

Flux at Various Scales

Although you have studied data for just one location, the movement of water between reservoirs happens all over Earth. During the Ice Ages, the reservoir of frozen water in glaciers, ice caps, and sea ice all increased, while other reservoirs, such as water in the oceans, decreased. Sea level was lower during the ice ages than it is now.

Now that you know how to find GLOBE data for other places around the world, and you know how to use the GLOBE Graphing Tool, you can look for evidence of flows in places other than in Greenville, PA.


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