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EESA09H3 Study Guide - Final Guide: Coriolis Force, Hadley Cell, Mixed Layer

Environmental Science
Course Code
Tanzina Mohsin
Study Guide

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Final Exam: an overview of the course
Lecture 1:
1. What are the characteristics of the Greek Gods of Wind?
Greeks (Euro-centric)
Aeoulus is designated by Zeus to look after the four winds
o Zephyrus gentle, west wind
o Boreas chilly, north wind
o Notos southern rain bringer
o Eurus ill-tempered east breeze
2. How the natural environment was dominated by geologic, then anthropogenic control?
Geologic Control
o Early earth
Atmospheric composition largely the results of volcanic emissions
(geologic control) CO2 and CH4
Life appeared 3.8B years ago
o 2.3B years of methane, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
Aerobic conditions, Age of Bacteria
o Abrupt change 2.3B years ago
Oxygen makes an appearance in the atmosphere and stabilizes at 21%
Aerobic life forms appear and flourish (“biologic control)
Links to Gaia hypothesis (James Lovelock)
Biologic Control
o Basic premise is that life modifies the environment to best suit itself
o 21% O2 is optimum for life
o Mars and venus are in a static equilibrium with high levels of CO2 and CH4
Anthropogenic control
o During the Carboniferous period (360-390M years ago) during the Paleozoic
Age, life arrives on lands
Sun’s energy converted to plant material (photosynthesis)
Decaying plants are not fully oxidized
Converted to coal and oil under geologic pressure

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Stored for millions of years
Many of today’s air quality problems arise from the release of this
stored energy
o Coal
First major anthropogenic modification of the atmosphere
Britain Industrial Revolution 19th Century
US 19th and 20th Centuries
China 11th century, present
3. Why switch from anaerobic conditions to aerobic conditions 2.3B years ago?
Gaia Hypothesis
o Early sun produce 30% less energy (Arhcean)
o Solar output has been gradually increasing
o Early earth with high levels of methane and carbon dioxide had a strong GH
effect which led to conditions warm enough for life
o After 2.3B years, solar output increased and earth was becoming too warm, the
switch to aerobic life, reduced the GH gases, and cooled the planet
o We now have considerably lower levels of CO2 in the atmosphere than the early
o Gaia hypothesis postulates that the atmospheric constituents have been
controlled by life to optimize conditions for life
4. Vertical Structure of the Atmosphere
Explain the temperature change within the layers in the atmosphere
o The troposphere extends to approximately 11 km, varying from 13 km at the
equator and 8 km at poles. The layer is well mixed vertically. Virtually all
weather occurs in this part of the atmosphere. 75% of the mass of the
atmosphere is in the troposphere. The tropopause is the isothermal region
separating troposphere and stratosphere. Warming occurs at the surface from the
sun's radiation. Temperature decreases in the troposphere (on average) by 6.5 oC
per km.
o The stratosphere extends from approximately 11 km to 50 km. Temperature
increases with height in this layer. This warming is due to the conversion of
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