Earth Systems EXAM 1

Earth Systems EXAM 1 - 19:09:00 19:09:00 CHAPTER3Atmosphere...

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11/02/2009 19:09:00
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11/02/2009 19:09:00
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CHAPTER 3 - Atmosphere 11/02/2009 19:09:00 Earth is different from all other known planets. Why? We have a notably different atmosphere from other planets. o Supplies oxygen for animals o Supplies carbon dioxide for plants o Helps maintain our water supply  o Insulates against temp. extremes o Shields from UV radiation Air (synonym for atmosphere) o Mix of mainly Nitrogen and Oxygen o Minor impurities of solid, liquid, and gas Pure air is invisible: colorless, odorless, tasteless. Gaseous impurities often have a smell and may be visible if enough  impurities coalesce. Size of Atmosphere Atmosphere is held to Earth by gravitational attraction and therefore accompanies  Earth in all its motions. Most of its mass is concentrated at very low altitudes. Composition of Atmosphere Permanent Gasses o Nitrogen is 78%
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Added to air by decay and burning of organic matter, volcanic  eruptions, chemical breakdown of certain rocks Removed by certain biological processes, being washed away in rain/ snow  Overall addition/removal is balanced over time. o Oxygen is 21% Produced by vegetation Removed by various organic/inorganic processes Overall quantity also remains stable o Argon is remaining 1% Inert gas Variable Gasses o Water Vapor – water in the form of gas Variable in location, not in time Total amount of vapor remains nearly constant Is most abundant in air overlying warm, moist surface areas (such as  tropical oceans) Fractional in deserts and polar regions o Carbon Dioxide – CO 2 Also has significant influence on atmosphere
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Absorbs infrared radiation, which helps warm the lower  atmosphere Distributed fairly uniformly through lower layers  Concentration has been increasing steadily for last century  (increasing burning of fossil fuel) at 0.002%. o Ozone – O 3 Minor but vital gas Concentrated in the Ozone Layer of atmosphere Filters out enough UV to protect life forms Particulates/Aerosols – the solid and liquid particles found in the atmosphere  o Particulates coming from human sources consist mostly of industrial and  automotive emissions/smoke and soot from fires of human origin o Affect weather and climate in 2 ways: Many are  hygroscopic  – They absorb water. Water vapor condenses  around them as they float about.
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