Earth’s natural systems include the atmosphere, oceans, land, polar ice caps and glaciers, and life. Intrinsically connected, these systems affect one another and result in global change that profoundly impacts the future of our planet. Only by understanding the way the Earth’s systems interact, we will be poised to fully understand the ways human activity affects the natural environment in which we live.

Started in 2018, our mission is to advance communication and public understanding of current research discoveries about Earth’s natural systems in Florida, and beyond. 

This mission will support our strategic impact: to better inform Floridians in the 21st century, including the next generation of decision makers.

Centered at the Florida Museum of Natural History, the Thompson Institute for Earth Systems (TIES) will harness the research discoveries of faculty and students from participating colleges at the University of Florida that will help influence legislation and foster new research with global implications. Utilizing innovative communication and technology, these discoveries will be made available to K-12 educators, community scientists, and various interested public and private stakeholders. Likewise, through general education courses in Florida’s natural systems and related topics, undergraduates will have the opportunity to graduate from UF empowered to make decisions that directly affect the future of Florida’s natural systems, and beyond.

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?