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Any collection of things that interact with one another.


A system contained in a larger system that supports and interacts with the larger system. Matter (energy) flows into and out of to other parts of the larger system.

Open System

Exchanges both energy and matter with the surrounding environment.

Closed System

Exchanges only energy with the surrounding environment.


The amount of material enetering a system.


The amount of material leaving a system.


A system that moves matter and energy from one reservoir (subsystem) to another without leaving the system as the levels of matter and energy remain unchanged.


A physical limit.


Tells how fast, or the rate that matter enters or leaves a system.


The general process of evaporation and transpiration.


Occurs when water in the liquid phase passes into the gas phase.


Water loss by plants.

Geochemical Cycle

The shortage and movement of a particular chemical. Explains how matter moves beteen reservoirs on Earth.


Any environment in which matter is stored.

Residence Time

The average length of time that matter in a system remains in a given reservoir. Mass(volume)/total flux in (or out).

Characteristics of Systems

Made from individual parts to work as one. Connected to one or more other systems. If a part of the system is missing or damaged, the system won't work.

Importance of inputs and outputs

Moves matter between different reservoirs.

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