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50 Cards in this Set

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The moisture content of air
absolute humidity
The mass of water vapor contained in a certain volume of air
relative humidity
The ratio of the mass of water vapor in the air at a given temperature to the maximum mass of water vapor the air could hold at that temperature, expressed as a percentage.
greenhouse effect
The process by which certain gases (principally water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane) trap heat that radiates from earth
parts per million
The number of molecules (or atoms) of a substance in a mixture for every 1 million molecules (or atoms) in that mixture
How does sweating cool us off?
When water evaporates from our skin, it uses energy in the form of heat from our skin. This removes heat from our skin, cooling us.
Why does a humid day feel warmer than a dry day of the same actual temperature?
Sweat does not evaporate as easily on a humid day as it does on a dry day, so your skin doesn't get cooled off from evaporation taking away heat.
Heat Index
A measurement of the air temperature in relation to the relative humidity, used as an indicator of the perceived temperature. How hot it feels taking humidity into account.
What is capable of holding more moisture, warm or cold air?
Warm. Cold air reaches a saturation point earlier than warm air does.
What percent of air is nitrogen?
What percent of air is oxygen?
Name two gases that make up the "other gases" in the atmosphere
argon, carbon dioxide, ozone, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, others
Name two ways concentration can be expressed
percent, parts per million
"burning." Oxygen is required. A chemical reaction by which oxygen reacts with a fuel to release energy
Explain what would happen if the atmosphere had significantly less or more oxygen.
less- Our bodies would not be able to produce enough energy because not enough oxygen would be around to run combustion reactions in our body. More - lung and eye damage, and more forest fires
What is relatively unique about nitrogen (and to lesser extents carbon dioxide and argon), and how does this play an important role in our health?
It is quite inert (does not enter easily into reactions with other substances) and non-toxic. If a major part of the atmosphere was made of a gas that wasn't relatively inert and nontoxic, we would live in a very volatile environment that would be dangerous to our health (toxic.)
How does carbon dioxide play a role in keeping our planet warm?
The sun's light warms the earth, which absorbs a lot of energy. Some of this energy is radiated back away from earth as infrared light. This cools the earth. Carbon dioxide (and water vapor and methane) trap a lot of this escaping infrared light and keep it in the atmosphere, keeping the atmosphere warm.
Name two potential consequences of decreased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
1. Not enough CO2 for plants, therefore not enoug O2 for people.
2. Earth would get too cold due to too much infrared light escaping from the atmosphere.
How is carbon dioxide typically formed?
From combustion (burning) reactions, such as our bodies running or fires.
global warming
The result of too much greenhouse effect.
What 2 gases comprise the majority of what we exhale?
nitrogen (75%) and oxygen (16%)
What gas increases in percentage the most between inhalation and exhalation?
Carbon dioxide (1% to 4%)
How does the amount of carbon dioxide produced by human activity compare with the amount of carbon dioxide produced by natural processes?
Human activity produces 3% the amount of CO2 that natural processes do.
Why is the fact that the Larsen B ice shelf in Antarctica is melting not sufficient evidence to prove that global warming is happening?
While that ice shelf is melting, another ice sheet in West Antarctica is thickening. One must consider the whole earth's temperatures and trends when talking about "global" warming, not just one area.
Do satellite temperatures indicate global warming?
How can you magnify a change in data values by manipulating a graph?
If you show data over a very small range, it tends to magnify any changes in the data.
What is the conversion factor for percent to ppm?
1% = 10,000 ppm
When the concentration of a particular substance is very small, which label is more appropriate to use, % or ppm?
ultraviolet light
High energy light that can damage or kill living tissue.
How does ozone interact with ultraviolet light?
Ozone filters ultraviolet light. The energy from UV light is just the right amount to break apart one of the 3 oxygen molecules from ozone. This process destroys the UV light.
How do infrared and visible light interact with ozone?
They don't. They don't have enough energy to break down the ozone, so they pass through. This is important because the damaging UV light is filtered, while the beneficial visible (so we can see) and infrared (so earth stays warm enough) light gets through.
Does ozone filter all UV light?
No. Some still gets through, and is responsible for sunburns and other types of skin damage.
How are we protected from the direct poisonous effects of ozone on living beings?
Most ozone exists in the "ozone layer" of the atmosphere, which is 30 km above sea level.
What is the Chapman cycle?
The process by which ozone concentrations are renewed in the atmosphere.
What are the major pollutants in today's air?
sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, ozone, and carbon monoxide
How are sulfur oxides formed?
from the burning of sulfur.
Why is sulfur burned?
We don't try to, but sulfur is a major contaminant in fuels we burn such as coal, oil, wood, and gas.
How do we attempt to reduce the amount of sulfur burned?
We "clean" the fuels before burning them, which reduces some of the sulfur levels.
How do we attempt to reduce the amount of sulfur oxides released into the air?
Scrubbers spray limestone mixed with water on the gases produced by burning coal, and the limestone absorbs the sulfur oxides.
What is the major natural source of sulfur oxide?
volcanic activity
How does the natural production of sulfur oxides compare with the human production?
Natural sources produce potentially up to twice the amount of human production.
How does burning of nitrogen take place?
As with sulfur, it doesn't get burned on purpose, but rather is produced as a by-product of very high temperature combustion reactions involving airplanes, autos, and power plants. Because nitrogen is relatively inert, it doesn't burn easily, but when exposed to extremely high temperatures, small amounts of it do burn to form nitrogen oxides.
What are the natural sources of nitrogen oxides?
volcanic activity, lightning strikes, biological decay, and oceans
How do natural sources of nitrogen oxide compare in amount to human sources?
Natural sources produce potentially up to 4 times the amount of human sources.
ground-level ozone
Ground-level ozone is produced by any activity that involves heat and air. Its production is increased in the presence of sunlight. It is considered a poison, since it is where people breathe it.
What was the major source of airborne lead 40 years ago?
Airborne lead came mostly from lead that was added to auto fuel to enhance performance.
How is carbon monoxide produced?
Carbon monoxide is produced when incomplete combustion happens - not enough oxygen is present for complete combustion, and instead of producing carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide is produced.
What is the purpose of a catalytic converter?
Catalytic converters convert most of the carbon monoxide produced by auto engines (which burn gasoline so fast that lots of incomplete combustion occurs) into carbon dioxide.
What was an unintended and negative effect of requiring higher gas mileage in autos?
In order to meet the higher mileage requirements, car manufacturers made vehicles lighter, which decreased car safety and increased traffic fatalities.
What is a cost-benefit analysis?
It is a study that compares the cost of something with its benefits. In other words, is the cost of making a change worth the benefits the change will bring?