Our Earth is extremely fragile, and human activities are making it more vulnerable. One of the recent examples of the impact of indiscriminate development and climate change is the shocking collapse of a portion of the Nanda Devi glacier in Uttarakhand's Chamoli district on February 7, 2021, and the ensuing floods that claimed many lives. The deadly disaster brings to light the need to rigorously study the impact of human activity on the environment. And that's exactly what earth scientists do.
What is Earth Science?
Earth science is the study of the structure, composition, and evolution of the Earth, the life it supports, and the processes that govern the formation and behaviour of the Earth's materials. It seeks to find answers to questions such as how ice moves, where the mineral resources are, and the rate of permafrost thaw. Understanding these phenomena is essential to the maintenance of life on the planet.
- Glaciology: Glaciologists assess the impact of climate change, look for alternatives to sustain Earth's depleting resources, and forecast avalanches.
- Geology: Geologists study Earth and the processes that act on its materials. It also traces the history of the planet and its life forms since origin.
- Hydrogeology: The study of water flow on and below the Earth's surface and its chemistry.
- Limnology: Limnology examines lake sediments to determine past climate and ecological environments.
- Oceanography: The study of the ocean, including its water, boundaries and topography, types of currents, and marine biology.
- Volcanology and Seismology: The scientific study of the dynamics of volcanoes and earthquakes.
What to study?
Universities in India and abroad offer a range of courses in Earth Sciences. You can pursue a Master of Science (M.Sc) and specialise in the field of your choice. A Ph.D is required to start working in the field.
- Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun: Training and research programmes on Geomorphology and Environmental Geology. Geophysics, Petrology and Geochemistry
- Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune: Dual degree programme Bachelor of Science and Master of Science
- Sharada University. Noida, and Pondicherry University: M.Sc in Environmental Sciences
- Bharatiya Vidyapeeth, Insitute of Environment Education and Research. Punes M.Sc in Environment Science and Technology
- Annamalai University, Cuddalore: M.Sc Earth Sciences and PG diplomas in Petroleum and Remote Sensing
- Utrecht University, the Netherlands, M.Sc Earth Surface and Water
- University of Helsinki, Finland: M.Sc Geology and Geophysics
- The University of Westent Australia: Master of Geographic Information Science
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the U.S. M.SC Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate: M.Sc Geology, Geochemistry and Geobiology; Master of Environmental Policy and Planning
What are the job prospects?
Earth scientists primarily work in research organisations and environmental monitoring agencies.
These organisations could be in the private as well as the public sector.
Depending on your field of interest, you can also work with non-profit organisations and think-tanks on environment conservation and policy. If you have an academic bent of mind, then working in a university as a professor in the field of your choice could also suit you.
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