The Influence of the Sun, Moon, and Lithosphere on Earth

Sun and Moon

The Sun is a star


Activity on the surface of the Sun creates a type of meteorology called space weather.

Space weather

Describes the variations in the spatial environment between the Sun and the Earth.


Solar radiation heats the atmosphere and is fundamental to atmospheric composition.


Earth’s axis of rotation is tilted with respect to its orbital plane. This is what causes the seasons. For example, when the earth’s axis points toward the sun, it is summer for that hemisphere.

Hydrologic cycle

The sun is what makes the water cycle work. Heat causes liquid and frozen water to evaporate and turn into water vapor gas, which rises into the sky to form clouds.


Without the heat and light from the Sun, life on Earth would not exist.

The Moon

The Moon is a natural satellite


The Moon’s gravitational pull causes the oceans to bulge on both the side closest to the Moon and the far side. These bulges create high tides.

Earth’s rotation

The Moon exerts a gravitational pull on the planet, which causes a slowing of the rotation as the Moon gradually moves away.

Earth’s wobble

The Moon’s gravitational pull may have been key to making Earth a habitable planet by moderating the degree of wobble of Earth’s axial tilt, leading to a relatively stable climate over billions of years in which life could flourish.


Without the Moon stabilizing our tilt, it is possible for the Earth’s tilt to vary wildly. It would go from having no tilt (meaning no seasons) to having a large tilt (meaning extreme weather and even ice ages).


What is the lithosphere?

It is the most solid and superficial layer of planet Earth in which all living things live.

What is the pedosphere?

It is the outermost layer of the Earth and its mantle is mostly composed of soil. It is an interface for other layers that make up our planet, such as the atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere.

Mass movement

A mass movement is any downward displacement of lithologic material or debris due to gravity.


Erosion is a process in which the surface of the Earth’s crust is detached or worn away.


Weathering is the breakdown of rocks at the Earth’s surface, by the action of rainwater, extreme temperatures, and biological activity. It does not involve the removal of rock material.

Types of weathering:

Physical: Caused by the effects of changing temperature on rocks, causing the rock to break apart.
Chemical: Caused by rainwater, slightly acidic, reacting with the mineral grains in rocks to form new minerals (clays) and soluble salts)
Biological: Caused by living organisms.

Volcanic eruptions

A volcanic eruption is the release of lava and gas from a volcano, sometimes explosively.


The Earth’s surface is made up of tectonic plates that lie beneath the land and oceans of our planet. The collision of these plates can cause violent earthquakes, in which the Earth’s surface trembles. They occur when plates subduct, spread, slide or collide.


A tsunami is a series of huge ocean waves created by an underwater disturbance. The causes can be earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions or meteorites. The sudden movement of water from depth creates a “whiplash” effect.

Hydrologic cycle

What happens to the water that reaches the ground?

The hydrological cycle links the atmosphere, the soil and all living and non-living parts of our planet.

How many liters does a human being consume on average each day? 80


An area of land that drains into a single larger body of water.


-They filter and clean water.
-They act as velocity reducers by slowing the flow of water.
-Serve as habitat for many species of animals and plants
-Beavers are considered a keystone species.

Beavers (castores) are considered a keystone species in a wetland habitat.

Solutions to the tragedy of the commons

Privatization, education and legislation.

Sustainable yield

Maximum rate at which a renewable resource can be used forever without reducing its available supply.

The water cycle is the continuous circulation of water within the Earth’s hydrosphere, is driven by solar radiation. It includes the atmosphere, land, surface water and groundwater.

1) Evaporation

Evaporation occurs when the sun heats water in rivers, lakes, or the ocean and turns it into vapor.

2) Convection

Occurs when the air near the surface is heated, rises, and takes heat with it.

The water vapor in the air cools and turns back to liquid, forming clouds.

3) Precipitation

Occurs when so much water has condensed that the air can no longer hold it. The clouds become heavy and the water falls back to earth as rain, hail, sleet, or snow.

4) Collection/Storage

Much of the Earth’s water does not participate in the water cycle very often. Much of it is stored. The Earth stores water in several places. The ocean is the largest store of water. About 96% of the Earth’s water is stored in the ocean.

You cannot drink ocean water because it is salty, but fresh water is stored in lakes, glaciers, ice caps, rivers, and underground in groundwater.

The atmosphere

is a mixture of gases that surrounds the planet. On Earth, the atmosphere helps make life possible.