The study of Earth requires an integrated approach to the interior and exterior of the solid planet and its atmosphere. In an Earth systems perspective, there is a deep and direct connection between many branches of science traditionally seen as independent domains. The global evolution of mountains through the process and products of orogeny and continental collision has a direct impact on atmospheric composition and in turn the greenhouse effect over climatic and geological timescales.

The evolution of life on the planet's surface was responsible for the gradual introduction of oxygen to the atmosphere on which we depend as a species, and the study of palaeontogy and paleoecology provides critical insights into surface environments. Our understanding of the complex dynamics of air masses and their linkage with oceanic circulation allows modelling of the present day as well as "deep time" climate. Many igneous rocks are initiated deep in the mantle, and evolve through fractional crystallisation as they make their way up through the crust, to be extruded from volcanoes at the Earth's surface. Geochemical analyses of rocks at the surface therefore permit insights into processes at work deep in our planet.

The study of Earth also requires that we look upward as well as downward. The planet was bombarded by meteorites early in its history, and still receives them from time to time. Thus, studying the Earth is fundamentally bound to the Cosmos, and provides the foundations on which the Anthroposphere could evolve and flourish.

Oetztal Alps in satellite image (Copyright: Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data 2016, processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)