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Unformatted text preview: Chapter Seventeen CHEMISTRY IN THE ATMOSPHERE
• Earth's Atmosphere and Its Regions
Depletion of the Ozone Layer
The Greenhouse Effect and Acid Rain
Indoor Air Pollution EARTH'S ATMOSPHERE AND ITS REGIONS
3. List the major components and several of the minor components of the atmosphere.
Describe the approximate altitude and characteristics of four regions of the Earth's atmosphere.
Describe the chemical processes responsible for light emission by the aurora borealis and aurora australis. Earth's Atmosphere. Earth's atmosphere is unique in the solar system due to its high oxygen (O2 )
content. Molecular oxygen makes up 21 percent of the atmosphere by volume. Table 17.1 in the text shows
that N2 , O 2 , and Ar make up over 99.9% of the atmosphere by volume. The other noble gas elements (besides
argon) are only present in trace amounts. Associated with the high oxygen content is the formation of ozone
(O3 ), a molecule that absorbs ultraviolet light and filters it from sunlight. This radiation is known to be
harmful to many of the life forms that inhabit Earth's surface.
Nitrogen is the major constituent of the atmosphere. Nitrogen molecules are held together by a triple bond
and therefore are extremely stable. Biological and industrial nitrogen fixation converts the elemental form of
nitrogen into nitrogen compounds. Lightning plays an important role by initiating the production of about 30
million tons of nitric acid each year. There are three steps in the mechanism of nitric acid production. Lightning
provides the energy to break up the N2 molecule and initiates the first step in the reaction sequence.
N2 (g) + O 2 (g) → 2NO(g)
2NO(g) + O2 (g) → 2NO 2 (g)
2NO2 (g) + H 2 O(l) → HNO 3 (g)+ HNO2 (g)
The nitrogen in nitric acid is an essential plant nutrient.
Carbon dioxide, the fourth most abundant component, makes up only 0.033% of the air. Carbon dioxide is
extremely important to Earth's heat balance even though its relative co...
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This note was uploaded on 09/15/2009 for the course CHEM 102 taught by Professor Bastos during the Spring '08 term at Adelphi.
- Spring '08