Why is Earth a Closed System?

Why is Earth a Closed System?
Coming up next: The Four Spheres of Earth: Geosphere, Hydrosphere, Biosphere, and Atmosphere

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:03 A Closed System
  • 0:44 The Earth
  • 1:31 Only Energy Transfers
  • 2:02 Open Systems Inside…
  • 2:26 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

After completing this lesson, you'll understand why the earth is a closed system inside the universe, but an open system inside the earth's atmosphere. You'll learn the one defining characteristic that makes a closed system.

A Closed System

What do you think of when you hear the word ''closed?'' Do you think of a closed door or a closed box? Well, if you thought of a closed box, then you aren't too far away from the definition of a closed system.

By definition, a closed system is a system in which the only thing that can be transferred with its surroundings is energy. A sealed box is a perfect example of a closed system: nothing that's contained within it can come out, and nothing on the outside can come in. However, if, for example, the heat is turned up in room the box is sitting in (or its surroundings) the box itself, and eventually, the contents inside will heat up as well. This is because heat is energy.

The Earth

You may not think of Earth as a closed box. After all, you hear of astronauts going into space and even walking on the moon. But, in fact, it is closed, because virtually all matter (things that have mass and take up space) inside the earth's atmosphere is kept inside, as long as it follows Earth's physical laws. Only if matter breaks these laws does it leave the earth. Astronauts leaving the earth is an intentional act, and a difficult one at that. The space shuttle needs an incredible force of energy to break the law of gravity and exit Earth's atmosphere without burning up.

Similarly, matter from the earth's surroundings (outer space) is not able to reach the earth. The extremely cold mid- to outer layers of the atmosphere prevent stray meteors, for example, from doing damage to the earth.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support