Weather is a chaotic system

Vegetation has a dependence on the seasonal variation of the weather

Weather can have both beneficial and harmful effects. Extremes in weather, such as tornadoes or hurricanes and cyclones, can expend large amounts of energy along their paths, and produce devastation.

photo: Felix Mittermeier

Seasonal variation

Surface vegetation has evolved a dependence on the seasonal variation of the weather, and sudden changes lasting only a few years can have a dramatic effect, both on the vegetation and on the animals which depend on its growth for their food.

Climate is a measure of the long-term trends in the weather. Various factors are known to influence the climate, including:

  • Ocean currents

  • Surface albedo

  • Greenhouse gases

  • Variations in the solar luminosity

  • Changes to the Earth’s orbit

Drastic climate changes

Based on historical records, the Earth is known to have undergone drastic climate changes in the past, including ice ages. Weather is a chaotic system that is readily modified by small changes to the environment, so accurate weather forecasting is limited to only a few days.

Oceanic divisions

The major oceanic divisions are defined in part by the continents, various archipelagos, and other criteria. These divisions are, in descending order of size:

  1. The Pacific Ocean

  2. The Atlantic Ocean

  3. The Indian Ocean

  4. The Southern Ocean

  5. The Arctic Ocean

Smaller regions of the oceans are called seas, gulfs, bays and other names. There are also salt lakes, which are smaller bodies of landlocked saltwater that are not interconnected with the World Ocean. Two notable examples of salt lakes are the Aral Sea and the Great Salt Lake.

Variety of biotic components

Ecosystems are composed of a variety of biotic and abiotic components that function in an interrelated way. The structure and composition is determined by various environmental factors that are interrelated. Variations of these factors will initiate dynamic modifications to the ecosystem. Some of the more important components are soil, atmosphere, radiation from the sun, water, and living organisms.


A smaller unit of size is called a micro-ecosystem. For example, a microsystem can be a stone and all the life under it. A macro-ecosystem might involve a whole ecoregion, with its drainage basin. Although there is no universal agreement on the definition of life.

Characteristic state of organisms

Scientists generally accept that the biological manifestation of life is characterized by organization, metabolism, growth, adaptation, response to stimuli, and reproduction. Life may also be said to be simply the characteristic state of organisms.