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Global Physical Environment Unit 1


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What are the four parts of the earth system?
1. Lithosphere
2. Hydrosphere
3. Atmosphere
4. Biosphere
Something consisting many individual parts fuctioning as a complex whole. A system exists when couplings, which connect state variables, for a complete circle.
Open System
Systems that require inputs and give off outputs, of energy and matter.
Closed System
Systems that do not have any inputs or outputs.
External Forcings
Things that have the ability to affect a system, but are not affected by the system.
Positive Feedback Loops
Feedback loops that amplify the original trend. They promote instability.
Negative Feedback Loops
Feedback loops that counteract the original trend. They act as stabilizers.
Angular distance north or south of the equatorial plane. Also called a parallel.
Angular distance east or west of an arbitrary point called the prime meridian. Also called a meridian.
Great Circle
Formed by a plane that intersects earth and crosses through Earth's center. The shortest distance bt/any two points on earth is a great circle.
Small Circle
Formed by a plane that intersects Earth and does not cross through the Earth's center.
Map Ratio
based on the size of the ratio:
1:20 large ratio
1:20,000,000 small ratio
What four things can map projections distort?
1. Distance
2. Direction
3. Area
4. Shape
What are the four kinds of map projections?
1. Cylindrical- preserves direction, compass bearing draws as straight line
2. Planar- there is 1 point with no distortion, can only map 1/2 of earth.
3. Conic- Area is preserved.
4. Oval/Tabular- spreads out distortion to make map look "normal"
Mercator vs. Gnomonic
Mercator- the line of constant bearing appears straight. (rhumb line)
Gnomonic- shortest distance is a straight line (great circle)
How were they able to make the temperature curve for the last 1000 years?
Using the rings of bristlecone pine trees, which vary in size according to temperature.
What did Svante Arrhenius do?
He was the first person to think that CO2 had an effect on temperature.
What did G.S. Callendar do?
Published a book that said humans were producing increased amounts of CO2.
How much did past scientists think that the global average temp. could change with doubling CO2 concentration?
Between 1 and 6 degrees C
When and where were CO2 concentrations measured for the first time
Antarctica and Hawaii, in 1957
How does el nino affect atmospheric CO2 concentration?
It increases it, this is due to a lack or rain and fires, which kill plants.
Positive water vapor feedback loop
Earth is warmer - Air holds more water vapor - water vapor traps heat in the atmosphere - earth warms
Negative water vapor feedback loop
Earth is warmer - more clouds form - clouds reflect more insolation - earth cools.
Positive ice feedback loop
Earth is warmer - ice and snow melts - earth's albedo decreases - more insolation is absorbed - earth warms
How much do computer models predict that earth's average temperature will change if CO2 conc. is doubled?
1.5 to 4.5 degrees C
Definition of minerals?
Inorganic, naturally occuring, crystalline, solid
Major mineral groups
Major Silicates
Quartz - SiO
Feldspar - SiO plus Ca, K, Na
Mafic Minerals - SiO + Mg,Fe High Density
Clay - SiO, Al others
Major Carbonates
Calcite (CaCO3)
Dolomite (CaMg(CO3)2
Definition of Rocks?
made up mainly of minerals, but also contain other stuff (coal, volcanic glass, etc.)
Three major classes of rocks?
Types of igneous rocks depending on where they harden?
Extrusive - harden on the surface of earth
Intrusive - harden within earth
Two igneous rock examples
Basalt- dense, high mafic mineral content, extrusive igneous rock
Granite- feldspar and quartz, intrusive rock, (large crystals)
Two classes of sedimentary rocks?
Clastic- form from sediment - conglomerate, sandstone, shale (mud)
Chemical Sedimentary Rocks- form from biological processes and dissolved ions (limestone, dolostone)
What are metamorphic rocks?
They form from igneous or sedementary rocks under high pressure and/or temperature.
Deeper part
Surface Layer
Surface Layer, rigid, brittle
Deeper layer, plastic
How are mantle and crust differentiated?
by their response to seismic waves
How are the lithosphere and asthenosphere differentiated?
behavior under stress
Oceanic Crust
Mainly basalt (high mafic mineral content), dense, thin layer
Continental Crust
Mainly Granite, less dense, thick layer
What are the three different kinds of plate boundaries?
What is a divergent boundary?
One is in the atlantic oceean, they form at upwellings of magma, which hardens in the lithosphere causing the ocean floor to move apart, dense basalt forms
What is a transform boundary?
when plates slide against each other, one is on the west coast of california
What is a convergent boundary?
Oceanic/Continental- (subduction)ocenic plate dives (denser) and magma forms as it melts, causing volcanoes
Continental/continental- (collision) causes major surface deformation and mountains form, formation of metamorphic rocks.

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