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Chapter 3

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Geography 2153A/B
Jamie Baxter

CHAPTER 3: EARTH’S LIFE-SUPPORT SYSTEMS MATTER AND ENERGY: BASIC BUILDING BLOCKS OF NATURE MATTER -MATTER: the material of which things are made, the stuff of life -everything on Earth is composed of matter -matter is anything that has mass -MASS: weight – takes up space -the Earth is a closed system for matter – we have all the matter we will ever have (except meteorites) -Earth’s matter has two chemical forms: elements and compounds -ELEMENTS: the simplest building blocks of matter that make up all materials -COMPOUNDS: two or more different elements held together in fixed proportions by the attraction in the chemical bonds between their atoms -all matter is built from the 109 known elements (92 natural, 17 synthetic) -there are more than 10 million compounds -all elements are made up of three types of building blocks: atoms, ions, and molecules -ATOMS: smallest particles that exhibit characteristics of a particular element -atoms consist of subatomic, electrically charged particles known as IONS -three types of ions: protons, neutrons, and electrons -PROTONS: positively charged -NEUTRONS: uncharged or electrically neutral (very little mass) -ELECTRONS: negatively charged -set number of protons and neutrons having the same mass make up the atom’s nucleus -electrons orbit the nuclear – held in orbit by the attraction of the positive charge of the nucleus -ATOMIC NUMBER: the number of protons in the atom’s nucleus -MASS NUMBER: the mass of an atom – number of neutrons plus the number of protons in its nucleus -ISOTOPES: different forms of the same atom – have the same number of protons and electrons – but different number of neutrons -MOLECULES: formed when two or more atoms of the same or different elements combine -ORGANIC COMPOUNDS: atoms of the element carbon and usually are combined with each other and with atoms of one or more other elements such as hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur, phosphorus, chlorine, and fluorine -methane is the major component of natural gas -INORGANIC COMPOUNDS: water, sodium chloride, ammonia, etc -MATTER QUALITY: reflects the relative value that humans place on resources they use – based on its availability and concentration -HIGH-QUALITY MATTER: coal, salt deposits – usually found near the Earth’s surface in an organized and concentrated form, so that its potential for use as a resource is great -LOW-QUALITY MATTER: has little potential for use as a resource because it is dispersed or diluted or hard to reach (aluminum ore) ENERGY -ENERGY: the ability or capacity to do work, is what enables us to move matter from one place to another or from one form to another -energy is either kinetic or potential -KINETIC ENERGY: it moves and has mass (wind, flowing streams -POTENTIAL ENERGY: stored and potentially available for use (water stored in a dam) -ENERGY QUALITY: measure of energy’s ability to perform useful work -HIGH QUALITY ENERGY: derives from natural resources such as high-velocity wind and coal or is generated by using other forms of high quality energy -LOW QUALITY ENERGY: dispersed and has little ability to do useful work (Atlantic ocean’s energy) PHYSICAL AND CHEMICAL CHANGES IN MATTER -PHYSICAL CHANGE: causes the water molecules to organize themselves differently in space -CHEMICAL CHANGE: lighting our stove and burning fuel -matter is recycled repeatedly - it does not disappear -LAW OF CONSERVATION OF MATTER: we can physically rearrange the atoms into different spatial patterns or chemically combine them into different combinations, but we are not creating or destroying them -FIRST LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS (first law of energy): states that during a physical or chemical change, energy is neither created nor destroyed; however, it may change form and it may be moved from place to place – energy input always equals energy output -SECOND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS (second law of energy): indicates that with each change in form, some energy is degraded to a less useful form and given off to the surroundings, usually as low quality heat – in the process of doing work, high quality energy is converted to more dispersed disorganized and lower quality energy – we can never recycle or reuse high quality energy to perform useful work – entropy in a system intends to increase over time -energy is constantly flowing from high quality, concentrated, useful forms to low quality, dispersed and less useful forms -ENTROPY: tendency toward dispersal or disorganization – a measure of disorder – high quality energy has a low entropy – low quality energy has high entropy -entropy is increasing continuously in the universe -the more energy we use, the more entropy we create in the environment EARTH’S LIFE SUPPORT SYSTEMS EARTH’S MAJOR COMPONENTS -four interconnected layers: lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere -LITHOSPHERE: consists of the upper zone of Earth’s mantle -HYDROSPHERE: Earth’s supply of moisture in all forms (liquid water, frozen, and gaseous) -ATMOSPHERE: surrounds the solid and liquid Earth – a very thin layer of gases consisting of nitrogen (78%), oxygen (21%), plus small quantities of water vapor, argon, carbon dioxide and ozone -the two lowest layers of the atmosphere (troposphere and stratosphere) make up 99% of the atmosphere -TROPOSPHERE: 80% of the atmosphere’s mass; lowest layer; the zone in which weather events occur -STRATOSPHERE: 19% of the atmosphere’s mass; extends to about 50 km about Earth’s surface; volume of water vapour is about 1000x lower than in the troposphere (ozone is 1000x higher in water vapour than the troposphere) -the ozone layer is in the stratosphere and it protects life by absorbing most incoming solar radiation -BIOSPHERE: consists of the diverse plant and animal organisms that inhabit the Earth and their interactions with each other in the other “spheres” -life on earth depends on three pervasive and interconnected factors: energy flow, matter cycling, and gravity -life is the one way flow of high quality energy from the sun through the materials and living things of the ecosphere, and then into the environment as low quality energy that is the ultimate source of energy in most ecosystems -living organisms require the cycling of critical elements such as oxygen, phosphorus, nitrogen, water, and carbon -gravity is important because it keeps the atmospheric gases from escaping into space and it draws chemicals downward in the matter cycles -0.023 percent of solar energy is actually captured by living things through photosynthesis – the remainder of the energy is reflected by cloud cover and does not reach the surface or radiated back into space as heat -Earth is an OPEN SYSTEM for energy, continuously receiving and using energy form the sun and radiating waste heat into space ECOLOGY -ECOLOGY: the study of the interactions of living organisms (biotic) with one another and with their nonliving (abiotic) environment of matter and energy -an indivi
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