SC21 - Earth and Atmospheric Science ✓ Flashcards Preview

Edexcel GCSE Chemistry COPY > SC21 - Earth and Atmospheric Science ✓ > Flashcards

Flashcards in SC21 - Earth and Atmospheric Science ✓ Deck (25)
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SC21a - What was the likely composition of the earth's early atmosphere?

Mainly carbon dioxide with small amounts of water vapour with little to no oxygen


SC21a - What was likely responsible for the composition of the earth's early atmosphere?

  • There was lots of volcanic activity in the earth's early years and so volcanoes probably were a a major part of it
  • They release large amounts of carbon dioxide and water vapour and small amounts of other gases (inc. nitrogen)


SC21a - What evidence supports ideas about earth's early atmosphere?

  • Other planets near to earth (i.e. Venus and Mars) are mainly made of carbon dioxide that is thought to be released form volcanoes
  • These planets should have a similar atmosphere to what earth was like before humans affected it


SC21a - Why may some scientists think earth's atmosphere was made up of nitrogen mainly and why was this disregarded?

  • Titan, a moon of Saturn is made of of >98% nitrogen
  • However, unlike any other planets closer to earth, titan has an icy interior so is less likely to be similar to earth


SC21a - How were the oceans formed?

The earth cooled down and the water vapour condensed forming oceans


SC21a - What evidence supports the claim that the early atmosphere contained little to no oxygen?

  • Volcanoes don't produce oxygen
  • Iron pyrite can't form in the presence of oxygen and it can be found in very ancient rocks


SC21a - How long ago did oxygen levels start to rise and how do we know this?

  • About 2.4 billion years ago, iron oxide started to form. Oxygen had to be present for oxidation to occur
  • There is fossil evidence of microorganisms that produced this
  • Some geologists believe that only after enough oxygen was present to oxidise iron could atmospheric oxygen rise


SC21b - Describe the changes in levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere

Oxygen levels increased and carbon dioxide level decreased


SC21b - In what three ways did oceans change the atmospheric composition?

  • Water vapour lessened as it formed oceans
  • Carbon dioxide dissolved in oceans reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
  • Sea creatures used the dissolved carbon dioxide to form shells made of calcium carbonate (limestone) allowing more carbon dioxide to dissolve


SC21b - How did photosynthesis affect atmospheric composition?


Carbon dioxide + Water -> Oxygen + Glucose

This reduced levels of carbon dioxide and increased levels of oxygen


SC21b - How are stromalites formed and how does this show oxygen being produced?

  • Cyanobacteria are photosynthetic organisms that produce a sticky mucus
  • The mucus traps sand and the organisms need to move above it
  • Eventually, these form stromalites
  •  As stromalites have been around for around 3 billion years this suggests that photosynthesis has been occurring for this long
  • Oxygen has been produced by these organisms since then


SC21b - What caused a second jump in the levels of atmospheric oxygen?

Cyanobacteria evolved forming land plants which photosynthesised increasing the levels of oxygen


SC21b - What % of the atmosphere is oxygen?



SC21b - What is the test for oxygen?

In the presence of oxygen, a glowing splint will relight


SC21c - Describe the greenhouse effect

  • Energy from the sun is transferred to the earth by (shorter) infrared and light waves
  • The earth absorbs some of this, warming up and then emits (longer) infrared waves
  • Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere absorb the energy and re-emit it back to the earth
  • This causes the temperature of the earth's atmosphere to increase and is called the greenhouse effect


SC21c - What are some greehouse gases?

  • Carbon dioxide
  • Methane
  • Water Vapour


SC21c - Why are greenhouse gases neccesary for our survivial?

Without them, the temperature of the earth would avergaely be -18 degrees which is too cold (Considering that it is an average meaning that some will be higher and so some have to be lower)



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SC21c - What is/are the negative effects of the greenhouse effect?

It is believed that greenhosue gases leads to global warming and climate change causing avergae weather temperatures around the world to increase too much


SC21c - What evidence may we have that greenhouse gases are responsible for global warming?

Since ~1850, the burning of fossil fuels (releasing carbon dioxide) for industry and so this inreased CO2 levels. As this has increased, so has average global temperature and this suggests a strong correlation


SC21c - What is a casual link and how must scientists show that it exists?

When one thing causes another. Scientists must collect evidence of why and how the correlation occurs.


SC21c - How may scientists prove that CO2 causes temperatures to rise?

  • In a lab, they can prove that CO2 absorbs infrared radiation.
  • Satellite data can also show that with an increase in CO2, there is a decreasing amount of infrared radiation that leaves the earth's atmosphere.
  • This suggests that CO2 levels cause temperature to rise (Causal link present)


SC21d - How has human activity increased global warming?

  • Burning fossil fuels releases CO2 which is a greenhouse gas
  • Methane is a much more powerful greenhouse gas and is released when natural gas and oil are extracted
  • Cattle have bacteria that produces methane during livestock farming
  • Soil bacteria in landfill sites and paddy fields produces methane


SC21d - What are the effects of climate change?

  • Higher average temperature will cause ice to melt and sea levels to rise making flooding more common
  • Some animals may migrate away from their habitats and may become extinct if they can't adapt to new conditions - Weather will become more extreme as some areas become more wet and others become more dry
  • More CO2 will dissolve into the ocean making it slightly more acidic. The change in pH can kill organisms


SC21d - How can the impact of climate change be reduced and what are the drawbacks?

  • Using renewable energy as they release little or no greenhouse gases. However this may not be enough
  • Global engineering solutions such as reflecting sunlight or carbon capture. However some countries may not help and delicate ecosystems can be disrupted
  • Helping locals to adapt to new conditions e.g. new irrigation systems and flood defenses how ever this can destroy natural habitats and may not work


SC21b - What is the test for Carbon dioxide?

When Carbon dioxide is bubbled through limewater, it will cause it to turn from colourless to cloudy/milky