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AP Enviornmental Science Exam
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Terms in this set (231)
First Law of Thermodynamics
energy is neither created nor destroyed, may be converted from one form to another.
Second Law of Thermodynamics
when energy is changed from one form to another, some useful energy is degraded into lower quality energy (usually heat).
the ability to do work. Units of energy: joules, calories, kilocalories, British thermal units (BTUs), Kilowatt-hours (kWh)
the rate of doing work (work/time). Units of power: watts and kilowatts.
High quality energy
easily converted to useful work, organized and concentrated (ex: oil and nuclear)
Low quality energy
not easily converted to useful work, disorganized, dispersed (ex: heat).
form of energy, travel as waves, e g radio waves, IR, visible light, UV, gamma rays.
enough energy to knock electrons from atoms, forming ions, capable of damaging DNA. (Gamma, X rays, UV)
unstable radioisotopes decay releasing gamma rays, alpha and beta particles.
time it takes for ½ of the mass of a radioisotope to decay. A radioisotope must be stored approximately 10 half lives before it has decayed to a safe level.
nuclei of isotopes are split apart into smaller nuclei; used in commercial nuclear reactors.
2 isotopes of light elements are forced together at high temperatures. Happens on sun and stars, very difficult to accomplish on Earth, prohibitively expensive
Parts of hydrologic (Water) cycle
evaporation (transpiration = evaporation from plants), condensation, precipitation
Fate of precipitation
evaporation (transpiration), runoff or infiltration and percolation.
water saturated layer in ground, can yield a usable amount of water.
upper surface (top) of the aquifer (zone of saturation)
withdrawing water from a resource faster than it is replenished (discharge>recharge)
water moving into a reservoir or aquifer
Cone of depression
lowering of water table around a pumping well.
Salt water intrusion
over pumping of groundwater near coast causes salt water to move into aquifer.
Ways to conserve water
agriculture- drip irrigation
industry - recycling
home use - fix leaks, use gray water, low flow fixtures
Distribution of water on Earth
97 % seawater, 3% freshwater (2% icecaps and glaciers, <1% in ground water, surface, organisms and atmosphere).
Micronutrients and trace elements
needed in small amounts.
component of all organic molecules
Largest reservoir of carbon
(1) sedimentary rocks
Process by which plants convert CO2 to complex carbohydrates (C6H12O6), removes C from atmosphere.
organisms break down carbohydrates; releases energy, returns C to atmosphere.
Processes that release C to the atmosphere
cellular respiration and decomposition, fires, burning fossil fuels, volcanoes.
slow, geological cycle: C in oceans used by marine organisms ends up in ocean sediments are subducted into Earth's crust, eventually returned through volcanic venting.
component of proteins (amino acids) and nucleic acids.
Largest reservoir of nitrogen
atmosphere (78% N2). Producers cannot directly use nitrogen gas
N2 is converted to ammonia NH3. Bacteria do this (esp. Rhizobium living symbiotically with legumes)
industrial N fixation, uses lots of fossil fuels
ammonia is converted to nitrite (NO2-) to nitrate (NO3-).
plants incorporate ammonia and nitrate ions into organic molecules (nucleic acids. amino acids).
Decomposers convert organic compounds into ammonia.
Specialized bacteria convert nitrogen compounds into N2 gas which is released into the atmosphere.
component of nucleic acids, often a major limiting factor for plant growth.
more slowly: no gaseous phase, mostly found in rocks as PO4, released by weathering.
Too much P and N in aquatic ecosystems
from animal wastes, fertilizers, sewage can cause eutrophication.
4.5 billion years old.
1st cells appeared
approximately 3.5 billion years ago.
Most abundant elements in Earth's crust
O, Si, Al, Fe, Ca.
Most abundant in core
Fe and Ni
Earth's crust is broken into plates which move relative to each other; movement caused by convection currents dissipating internal heat. Internal heat is produced by radioactive decay and is residual from Earth's formation.
Volcanoes and earthquakes occur
at plate boundaries
Divergent plate boundaries
plates moving apart, resulting in sea floor spreading, new crust generated, ex: ocean ridges, rifts
Convergent plate boundaries
plates coming together, ocean - ocean or ocean- continental, results in subduction (one plate slides under other), causes volcanoes and trenches. Convergent continental plates produce mountains.
one plate slides under other
plates slide past each other causes earthquakes (ex: San Andreas Fault)
relationship of rocks and rock formation processes.
igneous rocks come from
cooled molten rock
sedimentary rocks come from
metamorphic rocks come from
are not renewable. Mineral deposits most abundant at plate boundaries.
concentration of mineral high enough to make it profitable to mine.
identified deposits, profitable to mine.
Surface mining: (strip mining)
cheaper, can remove more materials, less dangerous to miners. Problems: toxic runoff, acid drainage.
size of soil particles; sand, silt, clay (largestà smallest).
organic material in soil.
removal of dissolved materials by water moving downwards.
ability to transmit water (sandàhigh, clayàlow).
amount of open space in soil (sand ishigh, clay islow).
Water holding capacity
how well soil can retain water (sand is low, clay is high)
in arid regions, irrigation water evaporates, leaving salts behind
Soil conservation techniques
contour plowing, crop rotation, conservation tillage, organic fertilizers, tree breaks, cover crops
composed of 78% N2, 21% O2, 0.9% argon, 0.035% CO2
0-17 km above Earth's surface, site of weather, organisms, contains most atmospheric water vapor. (temperature decreases with increasing altitude, pressure decreases)
17-48 km above surface, contains ozone layer approximately 20-30 km above Earth's surface (12-18 miles) (temperature increases with increasing altitude, pressure decreases)
Earth's early atmosphere
CO2, methane, ammonia, no free O2,
Organisms altered atmosphere
increased O2 and N2, decreased CO2.
daily atmospheric conditions (temp and precip)
long term atmospheric conditions (averages and patterns of temperature and precipitation)
Global circulation patterns
caused by uneven heating of Earth's surface and Earth's rotation.
El Nino Southern Oscillation; see-sawing of air pressure over Southern Pacific.
In equatorial Pacific, trade winds weaken and warm surface water moves towards S America, suppressing upwelling of nutrient rich water along west coast of S America.
Effects of El Nino
disrupts food chains, alters precipitation patterns, fewer Atlantic hurricanes.
Greenhouse gases (GHG)
water vapor, CO2, methane CH4, CFC's; trap outgoing infrared radiation (heat), causing Earth to warm.
Effects of global warming
rising sea level, droughts, disruptions of ecosystems, shifts in vegetation.
increase in acidity (decrease in pH) of ocean water due to increased uptake of CO2 from atmosphere forming carbonic acid (H2CO3)
the process of removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it
market trading of permits to emit carbon dioxide
break down of stratospheric ozone caused by: CFCs, methyl chloroform, carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), halon, methyl bromide
Effects of ozone depletion
increased UV (human health à increased skin cancer, cataracts, weakened immune systems ; environmental effects à decreased plant growth and marine productivity)
living components of ecosystem
non-living components of ecosystem
organisms that can make their own food.
organisms that cannot make their own food
producers → primary consumers → secondary consumers → tertiary consumers.
Energy flow in food webs
Solar energy converted to chemical energy converted to heat. Plants convert 1% of sunlight received to chemical energy (biomass). Only 10% of energy from each trophic level is transferred to next trophic level. Reason: energy lost to heat (2nd Law), not all biomass is digested. Predators are especially inefficient due to energy used to catch prey.
symbiotic relationship where both organisms benefit.
relationship in which one partner obtains nutrients at the expense of the host.
symbiotic relationship where partner benefits, the other is neither harmed nor benefited.
Organisms competing for the same resources.
interbreeding group of organisms capable of producing fertile offspring
organisms of the same species living in a particular area.
populations of all species living and interacting in an area.
community and abiotic environment, smallest entity that can sustain life. Essential processes- flow of energy and cycling of chemicals
Colonization and establishment of communities in an area not previously inhabited.
Change in communities after disturbance; examples - logging, forest fires, old farms, hurricanes.
organisms with favorable characteristics pass them on to next generation.
reproduce early, mature rapidly, short lived, many and unprotected offspring (ex: insects, annuals)
reproduce late, mature slowly, long lived, fewer and cared for offspring (ex: humans, whales)
species whose role in ecosystem are more important than others.
species who serve as early warning that ecosystem is being degraded. NOT CANARY IN COAL MINE
characterized by climate (temp and precip).
very low temperatures, little precipitation, very small trees, mosses and lichens
biome just south of the tundra; characterized by a northern coniferous forest composed of pine, fir, hemlock, and spruce tree and acidic, mineral-poor topsoil; boreal forest; evergreen coniferous forest
low rainfall, hot or warm summers cold winters. Dominated by grasses
rainfall high to very high and hot to very hot in all seasons. huge plant diversity
very low rainfall, hot days cold nights, few plants, some storing water
Traits of endangered species
specialists, small range, require large territory, live on island
Examples of endangered species
Northern Spotted Owl (loss of old growth forest), California Condor, Manatees, etc.
Examples of not endangered any more (delisted) species
Bald Eagle, American Alligator, Gray Whale, etc.
Examples of extinct species
Dodo bird (flightless, no protection from man and rodents), Carolina parakeet, Passenger pigeon, etc.
native to an area.
non-native species, ex. Kudzu, gypsy moth, purple loosestrife, hydrilla
number of individuals that can be sustained over time by ecosystem
rule of 70: divide 70 by percent growth rate to approximate doubling time on years
1798 said human population can outgrow food supply; result will be war, famine, disease.
Current size of human population
Current size of US population
Most populous countries
China, India, US.
Demographic transition Model
as countries become industrialized, death rates decline followed by declining birth rates.
Pre Industrial phase
birth and death rates high, low net population growth
death rates, infant mortality falls, better health care, result is rapid population growth, current LDCs.
decline in birth rates, population growth slows.
Post Industrial phase
low birth and death rates
Proportion of population in age and sex category; broad base - rapid growth, narrow base- slow or no growth
Most important factor affecting population growth
economic status of women.
Ways to decrease birth rates
family planning, access to contraception, economic opportunities.
Replacement fertility level
number of children needed to replace a couple (2.0 theoretically, 2.1 in MDC, 2.7 in LDC)
from specific location like smokestack
dispersed, large area, e g cars, agricultural runoff
biological oxygen demand (BOD)
amount of oxygen consumed by aerobic decomposers to break down organic compounds.
sequence caused by excess of N and P stimulating algal bloom; decomposers deplete DO
nutrient rich, oxygen poor.
algae dies, BOD increases as decomposers break down algae, DO is depleted and water cannot support life.
Primary air pollutants
emitted directly into atmosphere (CO, SO2, NO, hydrocarbons, particulates).
formed by reaction of primary pollutants, ex: acid rain, O3
Sources are burning fossil fuels, diesel exhaust; effects - respiratory irritation and damage. Methods of reduction- filters, electrostatic precipitators, scrubbers.
Nitrogen oxides (NOx)
Source- burning fuel at high temperatures (major source is car exhaust); effects-respiratory irritation, acidification of lakes, precursor to smog and ozone; reduction - catalytic converter. Equation for acid formation: NO + O2 ® NO2 + H2O ® HNO3
Sulfur oxides (SOx)
Source- burning coal and oil; effects-respiratory irritation, produces acid deposition, reduces plant growth; reduction- use low sulfur coal, limestone injection or flue gas scrubbing. Equation for acid formation: SO2 + O2 ® SO3 + H2O ® H2SO4
Carbon monoxide (CO)
Source - incomplete combustion of fossil fuels; effects-binds to Hb, reduces O2 carrying ability; reduction- catalytic converter, oxygenated fuels, increased fuel efficiencies.
Source- 2ndary pollutant formed from NOx and UV with VOCs; effects-respiratory irritant, damages plants; reduction-reduce NOx emissions, catalytic converter.
radioactive gas from decay of uranium in rocks, can lead to lung cancer
sulfurous, from burning coal.
(ground level ozone) formed by photochemical reactions of NO and VOCs in sunlight.
pH below 5.6, caused by sulfuric and nitric acids, leaches soil nutrients and toxic metals, weakens plants, and disrupts aquatic ecosystems.
falling water, wind, or steam from water boiled by fossil fuel combustion or nuclear fission turn a turbine connected to a generator.
oil, coal, natural gas
dead aquatic organisms buried in sediments converted by heat and pressure into hydrocarbons.
cheap, easy to transport, high quality energy.
nonrenewable, degradation from drilling transport and refining, burning produces CO2, air pollution.
hydraulic fracturing-using pressurized fluid to create fractures in rock and release natural gas or petroleum
mixture of clay, sand, water and bitumen. Bitumen can be extracted and refined into oil
Steps in coal formation
peat, lignite, bituminous, anthracite (increasing heat and C content).
Major parts of a nuclear reactor
core, control rods, containment building, steam generator, turbine.
Alternate energy sources
anything that is not fossil fuels; wind, solar, waves, biomass, geothermal, fuel cells.
Reason alternative energy sources not used more
not as economical, fossil fuels heavily subsidized.
Hard path energy policy
Large centralized facilities all connected to grid
Soft path policy
diverse, local, flexible energy sources
Multiple use public lands
US National Forests and National Resource Lands (managed by BLM)
Moderately restricted lands
National Wildlife Refuges
Restricted use lands
National Parks, National Wilderness Preservation System.
Municipal solid waste is mostly
Most municipal waste goes to
daily capping of waste.
Problems and solutions with landfills: leachate
liner with collection system
Problems and solutions with landfills: volume of waste
compact and reuse.
Problems and solutions with landfills: methane gas
collect and burn
reduces waste volume by 90%, waste heat can be used.
toxic emissions (polyvinyl chloride, dioxin) - can use scrubbers and electrostatic precipitators, must dispose of ash.
Best way to solve waste problem
reduce amount at source. Integrated Waste Management (IWM)
not enough calories.
improper amounts of nutrients
high fuel and resource use.
polyculture, crop rotation, labor intensive
Major types of insecticides
chlorinated hydrocarbons -ex. DDT
organophosphates- ex. malathion
carbamates - ex. aldicarb.
saves lives from insect transmitted diseases, increased yield and profits.
resistant strains, pesticide treadmill, ecosystem imbalance, persistence, bioaccumulation, and biomagnifications.
the tendency of materials to accumulate in living tissue. Substances may not be excreted or metabolized and will increase in concentration as it moves up the food chain
Biological pest control
use predators, biopesticides, parasites, agricultural practices like crop rotation.
Pest management using a variety of techniques, agricultural, biological and use of minimal amount of pesticides when necessary
dose (material per unit body weight) of chemical that kills 50% of exposed population.
causes changes in DNA
causes birth deformities
mental impairments caused by mercury
repairing/rehabilitating a damaged ecosystem or compensation for damage. Most often by providing a substitute or replacement area; frequently involves wetland ecosystems
typically used to describe chemical or physical manipulations carried out in severely degraded sites, such as open-pit or large-scale construction
to bring back to former condition (former natural state/condition), active restoration seeks to reestablish a diverse, dynamic community that has been degraded
most often used with cleanup of chemical contaminants in a polluted area
April 26, 1986, unauthorized safety test, leads to fire and explosion at nuclear power plant—millions exposed to unsafe levels of radiation.
Three-Mile Island, Pennsylvania
March 29, 1979, nuclear power plant loses cooling water 50% of core melts, radioactive materials escape into atmosphere, near meltdown (disaster).
Yucca Mountain, Nevada
controversial as proposed site for permanent storage of high-level nuclear waste, 70-miles northwest of Las Vegas, near volcano and earthquake faults.
Love Canal, NY
chemicals buried in old canal, school and homes built over it led to birth defects and cancers.
mental impairments, birth defects, and deaths caused by mercury dumped in Minamata Bay by factory. Mercury entered humans in diet (fish).
December 2, 1984, methyl isocyanate released accidentally by Union Carbide pesticide plant kills over 5,000.
March 24, 1989, tanker Exxon Valdez hits submerged rocks in Prince William Sound.
Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill (BP oil spill in Gulf of Mexico)
largest oil spill in US waters, estimated 4.9 billion barrels released over three months in 2010.
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster
3/11/2011 following Tohoku earthquake and tsunami
National Environmental Policy Act NEPA (1969)
Requires Environmental Impact Statements must for major federal projects. First broad based federal law to set policy on environmental protection
Clean Air Act CAA (1970)
Requires EPA to set and enforce rules regarding mobile sources - emission standards for cars, ambient air quality standards (what can be in the air); hazardous air pollutants emissions (what can come out of smokestacks); acid rain reduction; ozone depletion protection; requires EPA to work with non-attainment areas
Clean Water Act CWA (1972)
Goal is to make US waterways fishable and swimmable - regulates and enforces what can be discharged into waterways. Regulates wetland destruction/construction, established sewage treatment construction grants program
Safe Drinking Water Act SDWA (1974)
Establishes primary drinking water standards and groundwater protection
Ocean Dumping Ban Act
bans dumping of sewage sludge and industrial wastes in ocean
Endangered Species Act ESA (1973)
EPA makes a list of endangered and threatened species. It is a violation to harm listed species or their environment.
Migratory Bird Act
Lacey Act (1900)
prohibits transporting wild animals across state borders without permit.
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act RCRA (1976)
Regulates handling of wastes from "cradle to grave" Rules for landfills, underground storage tanks, hazardous waste disposal, permits to process, treat or dispose of hazardous wastes; record keeping.
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act CERCLA (1980)
Set up NPL and superfund; guidelines on cleaning up sites, set up "polluter pays" policy and established liability scheme to fund clean up costs.
Low-Level Radioactive Policy Act
all states must have facilities to handle low-level radioactive wastes
Nuclear Waste Policy Act
US government must develop a high level nuclear waste site by 2015 (see Yucca Mountain)
Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act FIFRA (1947, 1972)
Governs pesticide use (prohibits use in a manner that is inconsistent with product labeling), creates pesticide registry. Administered by FDA.
Food Quality Protection Act
set pesticide limits in food, & all ingredients must be screened for estrogenic/endocrine effects
Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (1977)
requires coal strip mines to reclaim the land.
Moratorium on mineral exploration for 50 years in Antarctica.
controlling global warming by setting greenhouse gas emissions targets for developed countries.
phase out of ozone depleting substances.
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)
lists species that cannot be commercially traded as live specimens or wildlife products.
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