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Questions and Problems

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    Access to and use of the internet is assumed in answering all questions including general information, statistics, constants, and mathematical formulas required to solve problems. These questions are designed to promote inquiry and thought rather than just finding material in the text. So in some cases there may be several “right” answers. Therefore, if your answer reflects intellectual effort and a search for information from available sources, your answer can be considered to be “right.”

    1.Observations such as heavy clouds, sometimes torrential rains, and humid air might lead to the conclusion that the atmosphere is a major reservoir of water. Using internet resources, find out if this is true and compare the amount of water in Earth’s atmosphere to that in the oceans.

    2.Suggest a role played by the tropopause in the hydrologic cycle. Without the tropopause, would Earth even have a hydrologic cycle?

    3. Water of the Colorado River of the U.S. is essentially fully committed for irrigation and municipal water supplies. What fraction of the Mississippi River discharge would be equivalent to the amount of water used from the Colorado River?

    4. Argon and neon are byproducts of the production of another important industrial product. What is the main process of which these two gases are byproducts?

    5. It is stated in this chapter that if the stratospheric ozone layer were in a pure layer of ozone at Earth’s surface, the layer would be only about 3 millimeters thick. According to the ideal gas law, a mole of gas occupies 22.4 liters at a temperature of 273 K and a pressure of 1 atmosphere, very close to average conditions at sea level. Using this information calculate a reasonable estimate of the total mass of ozone in the ozone layer.

    6. Although the ozone layer mentioned in the preceding question is a very good thing and even essential for human life, where in the atmosphere is ozone detrimental? Explain.

    7. Long before humans were able to reach the atmospheric region of the ionosphere scientists observed the reception of radio waves transmitting over long distances far beyond line-of-sight, a “skipping” effect that enabled (at times, with luck) short wave transmissions across the Atlantic. The hypothesis was that the signals were bouncing off a layer of ions many kilometers up in the atmosphere. They also observed that longer distance transmission was possible at night. From this information suggest how ions are formed in the ionosphere and why it raises during nightime.

    8. What is a common air pollutant that is associated with the sulfur cycle?

    9. Some large volcanic eruptions cause significant global cooling whereas the climatic effects of other, equally large eruptions are negligible. Very little, if any of the cooling is caused by volcanic ash ejected to the atmosphere, large as the amounts of ash may be. Give a plausible explanation for these observations.

    10. Soil is formed over very long periods of time beginning with igneous rock. Explain why soil forms faster in wet, temperate climates subjected to seasonal changes than it does in hot, dry regions where it may be largely absent.

    11. What lessons are offered by the biosphere for the development of workable systems of industrial ecology?

    12. What process in the anthrosphere is most closely analogous to photosynthesis by plants and algae in the biosphere? Explain

    13. Consider your computer as a system of industrial ecology. What is its infrastructure? To which parts of an industrial ecosystem is it analogous? Consider how word processing, data, and graphics were handled in the days when typewriter, calculator, and paper were the instruments of choice and suggest how a computer recycles data as compared to those times.

    14. Look up the definition of economics, especially if one can be found in older textbooks. Suggest an alternate definition that is consistent with sustainability and the preservation of Earth’s natural capital.

    15. Since about 1980 the classification of organisms such as the generally recognized kingdoms of organisms has undergone significant change. Suggest a development that has enabled this change to occur.

    16. What are plankton? What kind of plankton are especially important for aquatic ecosystems?

    17. By around 1800 one form of renewable energy was dominant in the generation of power for applications such as grinding grain for flour and sawing wood, but was not usable during the coldest winter months. Suggest the source of power and why it was not usable during winter.

    18. Suggest the major aspects of the silicon cycle. Is it exogenous or endogenous? Does it have a biospheric component?

    Questions and Problems is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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