How are the Earth’s natural systems connected?

The Earth’s natural systems include air (atmosphere), water (hydrosphere), land (lithosphere), ice (cryosphere), and life (biosphere).

For billions of years these systems have been closely interconnected and have profoundly affected one another. For example, the melting of glaciers and polar ice caps today (cryosphere) returns water to the oceans (hydrosphere), resulting in the rise in global sea level, which in turn floods low-lying land (lithosphere), and affects coastal life (biosphere).

Each one of the other photos in this gallery also tells a story of the Earth’s interacting systems. Can you tell how?