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Flashcards in Chemistry of the Atmosphere Deck (30)
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1
Q

Proportion of gases in the Earth’s atmosphere:

A

21% oxygen. 78% Nitrogen.

2
Q

What is oxygen?

A

Oxygen is a reactant in respiration and travels through the blood in human bodies to provide for cells.

3
Q

What is nitrogen?

A

Nitrogen is a key component of proteins which is essential for growth. The producers at the base of the protein absorb soluble nitrates from the soil.

4
Q

What are carbon dioxide and water vapour?

A

Greenhouse gases.

5
Q

What is the greenhouse effect.

A

Greenhouse gases absorb and then re-radiate heat energy that is reflected off the earth’s surface. If the effect is too strong it can cause global warming.

6
Q

The earth’s atmosphere contains small quantities of gases such as…

A

Noble gases, carbon dioxide and water vapour.

7
Q

Once dissolved in the oceans, some of the carbon dioxide reacted with seawater to produce…

A

…carbonate precipitates that were deposited as sediment.

8
Q

For the first billion years of the Earth’s existence:

A

Highly active volcanoes populated the surface.

9
Q

What is needed for photosynthesis to take place?

A

Carbon Dioxide.
Light Energy.
Water.

10
Q

Which 3 main factors caused the decline of CO2 in the atmosphere?

A

Evolution of marine animals.
Formation of the oceans.
Evolution of photosynthetic organisms.

11
Q

What are algae?

A

Algae were the first photosynthetic organisms to evolve. Oxygen slowly built up in the atmosphere until photosynthesising plants were eventually able to evolve.

12
Q

A photosynthesising plants began to evolve…

A

…the rate of oxygen accumulation increased rapidly, until a threshold concentration was met that made it possible for humans to evolve.

13
Q

Animals were only able to evolve when…

A

…oxygen had become abundant in the atmosphere.

14
Q

Which gases were released by volcanic eruptions in the earth’s early atmosphere?

A
Carbon Dioxide. 
Nitrogen. 
Ammonia. 
Methane. 
Water Vapour.
15
Q

Describe the greenhouse effect process:

A

Earth absorbs short wavelength radiation.
Greenhouse gases absorb long wavelength radiation.
The Sun emits short wavelength radiation.

16
Q

Which human activities cause atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to increase?

A

Burning fossil fuels.
Landfill sites (decomposition produces methane).
Deforestation.
Agriculture (farm animals release methane during digestion).

17
Q

Greenhouse gases can’t absorb the frequencies of radiation that arrive from the Sun, but they can absorb some…

A

…reflected radiation before re-radiating it in all directions, including back towards Earth.

18
Q

How could global climate change affect extreme meteorological events?

A

Increased frequency.

Increased severity.

19
Q

The current scientific consensus is that…

A

…increased greenhouse gas emissions caused by changes to human activity will lead to global climate change.

20
Q

Possible consequences of global climate change include:

A

Melting of polar ice caps.
Changes to amount and timing of precipitation.
More extreme meteorological events.
Changes to water availability.
Food shortages (leads to potential famines).

21
Q

What is the evidence that greenhouse gases are related to climate change?

A

The current scientific consensus, which is based upon peer-reviewed evidence, that is increased greenhouse gas emissions caused by changes to human activity will lead to global climate change.

22
Q

What is the misinformation about climate change?

A

The complexity of the global climate system makes it difficult to create accurate models - often biased information on inadequate models.

23
Q

The melting of polar ice caps would cause:

A
  • Sea levels rise, leading to flooding and erosion of coastal regions.
  • Some species to be less successful hunters (e.g the polar bear).
24
Q

What would changes in water availability effect?

A

Species distributions.

25
Q

What is a carbon footprint?

A

A carbon footprint is a measure of the total amount of greenhouse gases emitted as a result of a particular service, event or product.

26
Q

What are the barriers to reducing carbon footprints?

A
  • Reluctance to lifestyle changes.
  • Scientific disagreements regarding climate change.
  • Conflict of interest with economic development.
  • Failure to sign international agreements.
27
Q

Any governments worry that making the required changes may restrict…

A

…the economic development of their country, thus risking the health of their population.

28
Q

How can governments reduce their carbon footprints?

A
  • Emission-based taxes.
  • Emission caps.
  • Emission licences.
29
Q

How can individuals reduce their carbon footprints?

A
  • Maximise energy use efficiency.
  • Minimise waste.
  • Use renewable energy sources.
30
Q

Name the following methods for reducing carbon footprints:

A

Carbon capture and storage technology
Carbon neutral products
Carbon off-setting