Global Fiducials Library Data Access Portal
The Global Fiducials Library and the Earth System
The Earth System is the unified set of physical, chemical, and biological components, processes, and interactions that collectively determine the dynamics of our Planet and its ecosystems. The Earth system is often represented by interlinking and interacting "spheres" of processes and phenomena.

The U.S. Geological Survey identifies the five components or spheres of the Earth System as the atmosphere, biosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere. Earth System Science is the study of the interaction of these components. The focus of Earth System Science is to observe, understand, and predict the operation of, and the changes within our global environment. Planet Earth provides a natural laboratory whose experiments have been running since the beginning of time. Our planet faces unprecedented environmental and other challanges in the decades ahead. The most significant may include: climate change, sea-level rise, altered weather patterns, declines in freshwater availability and quality, and loss of biodiversity. These changes involve interactions between land, atmosphere, water, ice, biosphere, societies, technologies and economies.

Addressing these challenges and understanding the complexities of the Earth System requires well-conceived, science-based investigations. The GFL, which provides a long-term image database to support these investigations, contains imagery that focuses on five categories: Ocean Processes; Ice and Snow Dynamics; Atmospheric Processes; Land Use/Land Cover; and Geologic Processes. Many of the images found on this website can provide information related to two or more of these categories.

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Page Last Modified: August 21 2013 12:33 Mountain Time