Physical Dimension of the New York Bioscape

Physical Dimension of the New York Bioscape

The Foundation for Life

The physical dimension includes geological features (rocks and soil), climate, air, and water. These components of our Bioscape provide the "environmental foundation" for all life, including people. The physical dimension is literally under our feet, and in the air that we breathe, and in the water that we drink. The physical dimension guides the weather each day, and ultimately the climate, which governs what will grow and thrive here. Yet, most of us take these physical attributes for granted. We assume that the physical dimension will go on forever. Will it? Human activities are influencing soil, climate, air, and water more than any time in history. What interactions will these changes have on the biological and human dimensions of our planet and regional bioscapes?

The Physical Dimension of the New York Bioscape

How old are the rocks and where did they come from? Do rocks affect our daily lives in any ways? Are they important to preserve? Where does the soil come from? Do our soils vary? Are our soils healthy? How can we keep our soils healthy? What kind of weather can we expect tomorrow, next year, next century? What elements are in our air, the air that we take into our bodies each and every moment? Where has that air you are breathing been? Where is it going? Where does our water come from? What elements are in our water, the water that we drink each day and every day? Is the quality of air and water getting better, or worse? Why? How are geology, climate, air, and water linked to each other and to our health, and to the health of all species that share our Bioscape with us? What are the threats to our physical dimension?

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Geology Climate Air Water

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Geology is the study of the planet earth: its rocky exterior, its history, and the processes that act upon it. Geology is also referred to as earth science. The geological history of the New York Bioscapeis long and complex - more than 1.3 billion years. The record deciphered by geologists tells of repeated submergences beneath shallow seas, of mountain-building, of volcanoes, dinosaurs and wooly mammoths (yes, there were dinosaurs and mammoths in the NY Bioscape!), of lush tropical forests, and frigid continental glaciers. Geological weathering helps form soil.

Learn more: Basics, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania

Soil is comprised of solids (minerals and organic matter), liquid, and gases that occurs on the land surface, occupies space, and is characterized by one or both of the following: horizons, or layers, that are distinguishable from the initial material as a result of additions, losses, transfers, and transformations of energy and matter or the ability to support rooted plants in a natural environment. The National Cooperative Soil Survey identifies and maps over 20,000 different kinds of soil in the United States. Most soils are given a name, which generally comes from the locale where the soil was first mapped. Soils are named and classified on the basis of physical and chemical properties in their horizons (layers). "Soil Taxonomy" uses color, texture, structure, and other properties of the surface two meters deep to key the soil into a classification system to help people use soil information. This system also provides a common language for scientists.

Learn more: Basics, soil series, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania