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91 terms

Chap 2: Solar Energy, Seasons, and the Atmosphere

Chapter 2 of Elemental Geosystems (Christopherson), 4th edition
STUDY
PLAY
surpluses
The equatorial region experiences energy ________ (surpluses? deficits?)
deficits
The polar regions experience energy ________ (surpluses? deficits?)
the Milky Way Galaxy
A flattened, disk-shaped mass estimated to contain nearly 400 billion stars
gravity
The key organizing force in the condensing solar nebula (and creation of our Solar System)
planetesimal hypothesis
The concept that suns condense from nebular clouds and planetestimals form in orbits around their central masses.
light
what moves at about 6 trillion miles per year? (the speed of_______)
8 minutes, 20 seconds
Light from the Sun reaches Earth in an average of __minutes, __seconds
perihelion
Earth at its closest position to the Sun (occurs on January 3rd)
aphelion
Earth at its farthest position from the Sun (occurs on July 4th)
Sun
The ______ is the only object in the entire Solar System that produces thermonuclear energy.
fusion
Hydrogen atoms are joined in this process, which takes place within the Sun and results in the release of great amounts of energy.
solar wind
The Sun constantly emits ionized (electrically charged) particles that surge outward in all directions from the Sun's surface. This phenomenon is called:
sunspots
large magnetic storms on the Sun's surface
magnetosphere
A magnetic field surrounding the Earth, which deflects much of the solar wind so that only a small portion of it enters the atmosphere
auroras
Lighting effects that occur in the upper atmosphere when absorbed energy is rereadiated as light energy of varying colors.
aurora borealis
northern lights
aurora australis
southern lights
true
true / false: the Sun is way, way, way, way bigger than the Earth (see figure 2.2)
electromagnetic energy
The key solar input to life
electromagnetic spectrum
The whole spectrum of radiant energy is called the ________ _________
false
true / false: Everything on the electromagnetic spectrum is from solar radiation
wavelength
The distance between corresponding points on any two successive waves.
frequency
The number of waves passing a fixed point in one second (the speed of the waves)
50%
Approximately what percentage of the Sun's emitted radiant energy is composed of VISIBLE light wavelengths? (p.40)
true
true / false: Because hotter objects usually emit shorter wavelengths, the Sun emits shorter wavelengths than the Earth.
thermopause
the region at the top of the atmosphere (about 300 miles above Earth's surface)
insolation
Solar radiation that is actually intercepted by the Earth (which is only a tiny bit of the Sun's energy output). This term is a condensed way of saying "intercepted solar radiation."
solar constant
The average value of intercepted energy from the Sun (insolation) received at the thermopause (the top layer of Earth's atmosphere)
false
true / false: the global distribution of insolation (energy from the Sun intercepted by the Earth) is even.
subsolar point
The only point on Earth that receives insolation from directly overhead. (occurs between the two tropics, 23.5 degrees N and 23.5 degrees S).
true
true / false: All places away from the subsolar point receive insolation at an angle less than 90 degrees and thus experience more diffuse energy.
oblique
rays of the sun that are not direct rays are called _______ rays
seasonality
refers to both the seasonal variation of the Sun's position above the horizon and the changing daylengths during the year.
altitude
Seasonal variations are a response to changes in the Sun's _________, or the angle between the horizon and the Sun.
zenith
The Sun is at its _______ when it's altitude is 90 degrees (directly overhead)
declination
The Sun's _________ is the latitude of the subsolar point (which is always somewhere between the tropics)
the Tropic of Cancer
Which is north of the equator: the Tropic of Cancer or the Tropic of Capricorn?
latitude
daylength varies during the year depending on ___________.
equator
Along what line do people receive equal hours of day and night?
revolution
This refers to Earth's orbit around the Sun, NOT Earth turning on its axis.
rotation
This refers to Earth turning on its axis, NOT Earth's orbit around the Sun.
the length of the year
Does Earth's revolution determine the length of the year, or the length of a day?
24 hours
How long does it take Earth to complete one rotation?
rotation
rotation or revolution: What determines daylength, the deflection of wind and ocean currents, and the twice-daily rise and fall of the ocean tides (in relation to the gravitational pull of the Sun and Moon)?
counterclockwise
When viewed from the North Pole, Earth rotates ____________(what direction) around its axis.
eastward
When viewed at the equator, does the Earth move westward or eastward? (p.45).
circle of illumination
The dividing line between day and night. This circle intersects the equator, which is why daylength at the equator is evenly divided.
equinoxes
With the exception of the equator, all latitudes experience uneven daylength throughout the seasons, except for 2 days a year (March 21 or 22 and September 21 or 22), which are called the _________.
revolution
Is the plane of the ecliptic associated with revolution or rotation?
rotation
Is the plane of the equator associated with revolution or rotation?
axial tilt
The line of the equator essentially exists because of the Earth's ______ ______ (p.45)
axial parallelism
As it journeys around the Sun, Earth's axis maintains the same alignment and orientation. The axis is parallel to itself at each stage. This is known as:
soltices
The 2 times of year (around June 21 or 22 and December 21 or 22) that mark the times when the Sun's declination places it directly over one of the 2 tropics.
tropics
The 2 ______ are the parallels of latitude that represent the Sun's farthest northerly or southerly position.
declination
Soltices and equinoxes are based upon the Sun's __________, which is the location of the subsolar point
vernal
The September equinox is also called the autumnal equinox. The March equinox is also called the _______ equinox.
air
a simple additive mixture of gases that is naturally odorless, colorless, tasteless, and formless, blended so throughly that it behaves as if it were a single gas.
exosphere
The atmosphere is considered to go up 300 miles from Earth's surface. Past this point, the atmosphere is basically a vacuum, and is called the "outer sphere" or __________.
air pressure
The weight (force over a unit area) of the atmosphere, or ___ ________, pushes in on all of us (it also exists inside of us, pushing us outward and keeping us from being crushed by the air around us!)
barometer
This instrument measures air pressure.
composition
The heterosphere and the homosphere are regions based on the atmosphere's (composition, temperature, or function?)
heterosphere
The outer atmosphere in terms of composition. This region is not uniform; its gases are not evenly mixed. Less than 0.001% of the atmosphere's mass is in this region.
homosphere
The inner atmosphere in terms of composition. The blend of gases is nearly uniform in this region.
the ozone layer
This layer is one of the exceptions to the compositional uniformity of the homosphere (along with variations in water vapor, carbon dioxide, pollutants, and some chemicals).
food
Nitrogen is essential for life, but we breathe out all of the nitrogen we breathe in because we get our nitrogen through _____.
carbon dioxide
The percentage of this compound in the atmosphere has been increasing over the past 200 years as a result of human activities. It is important in maintaining global temperatures.
temperature
The thermosphere, mesosphere, stratosphere, and troposphere are regions based on the atmosphere's (composition, temperature, or function?)
thermosphere
A layer of the atmosphere (when classified by temperature) that roughly corresponds to the heterosphere (a compositional layer of the atmosphere).
kinetic energy
The energy of motion, the vibrational energy that we measure as temperature (helps explain the difference between temperature and heat).
sensible heat
Kinetic energy transmitted such that we can measure its temperature.
mesosphere
The highest atmopsheric temperature region of the three temperature regions that align with the homosphere.
stratosphere
The middle atmospheric temperature region of the three temperature regions that align with the homosphere. The location of the ozone layer.
troposphere
The final layer encountered by incoming solar radiation. Home of the biosphere, that atmospheric layer that supports life, and the region of principal weather activity.
troposphere
Which layer of the atmosphere contains about 90% of the total mass of the atmosphere, and the bulk of all water vapor, clouds, weather, air pollution, and life forms?
normal lapse rate
Temperatures decrease rapidly with increasing altitude at an average of 3.5 degrees per 1000 feet, a rate known as the ______ ______ ______.
environmental lapse rate
The actual lapse rate (rate of temperature decrease at increasing altitudes) at any particular time and place, which may deviate considerably because of local weather conditions.
function
the ionosphere and the ozonosphere (ozone layer) are regions based on the atmosphere's (composition, temperature, or function?)
ionosphere
The outer functional layer of the atmosphere. It absorbs cosmic rays, gamma rays, X-rays, and shorter wavelengths of ultraviolet radiation (it gets its name because it changes atoms to positively charged ions)
ionosphere
The auroral lights usually occur in this functional layer of the atmosphere.
ozonosphere
A functional layer of the atmosphere: the part of the stratosphere that contains an increased level of ozone (remember that ozone is has 3 oxygen atoms).
true
true / false: ozone is highly reactive.
false
true / false: ozone is bad because it doesn't filter most harmful ultraviolet radiation.
temperature inversion
This occurs when the normal temperature decrease with altitude (normal lapse rate) begins to increase at some altitude.
anthropogenic
human-caused
60%
In the U.S., approx. what percentage of anthropogenic air pollution is caused by automobiles?
photochemical smog
results from the interaction of sunlight and the combusiton products in automboile and truck exhaust. It is the major component of anthropogenic air pollution.
true
true / false: peroxyacetyl nitrates (PAN) produce no known health effect in humans, but are damaging to plants/crops/forests
industrial smog
The air pollution associated with coal-burning industries.
sulfate aersosols
Forms when sulfur dioxide forms sulfur trioxide and mixes with water or water vapor. Tiny particles.
particulate matter
A diverse mixture of fine particles, both solid and aerosol, that impact human health. Shortened term is "PM."
anthropogenic atmosphere
a tentative label for Earth's next (fifth) layer of atmosphere.