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28 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back

How can Earth's internal structure be determined?

- Seismic waves generated by earthquakes have been used to look inside the Earth.

What's at the center of the Earth?

- There is a crystalline globe of solid iron at the center of the Earth that spins faster than the rest of the planet. 
- This inner solid core is suspended in a much larger, fluid outer core of molten iron, which is itself encased in a thick mant...

- There is a crystalline globe of solid iron at the center of the Earth that spins faster than the rest of the planet.

- This inner solid core is suspended in a much larger, fluid outer core of molten iron, which is itself encased in a thick mantle of solid rock.

How do continents form?

- The continents disperse and then reassemble, over and over again, roaming and wandering about the planet in an endless journey with no final destination.

What have been use to view Earth's floor?

- Sound waves and gravitational data have been used to effectively empty the Earth’s oceans and see their floors, revealing an underwater range of active volcanoes that snakes its way around the middle of the ocean floor.

What's the bottom of the ocean like?

- The bottom of the oceans remains in eternal youth as new floor spills out of mid-ocean volcanoes and old floor is pushed back inside the Earth, but the water above the floors has remained for billions of years, shifting about the globe as new oceans open up and old ones close.

What's the outer part of the Earth like?

- The outer part of the Earth is broken into a mosaic of large plates, like the cracked pieces of an egg shell; these plates move across the Earth at the rate of a few centimeters per year, or about as fast as your fingernails grow.

How do continents move?

- Wheeling, churning motions deep inside the Earth's hot interior move continents sideways all across the planet.

What create earthquakes and volcanoes?

- The Earth's moving plates squeeze oceans out of existence, grind against each other to create earthquakes, and dive into the Earth to produce volcanoes that make continents grow at their edges.

Examples of Earth's plates moving?

- Boston and Italy were once part of Africa, a glacier of ice once covered the Sahara Desert, and the Pacific Ocean once washed against the shores of Colorado.

What are other effects of moving plates?

- A colossal alp can erode away into a small, round knob of a hill in just a few hundred million years, while continents can also weld together to form new mountain ranges.

What happens to the Earth's upper atmosphere?

- It's heated and ionized by the Sun’s variable X-ray and extreme ultraviolet radiation.

What does the ultraviolet radiation from the Sun create?

- The protective ozone layer in the stratosphere of the Earth’s atmosphere.

What have been destroying the thin layer of ozone?

- Synthetic chemicals called chloroflurocarbons, abbreviated CFCs, have been destroying the thin layer of ozone that protects human beings from dangerous solar ultraviolet radiation.

- The production of these ozone-destroying chemicals was outlawed in 1987 by an international agreement named the Montreal Protocol.

What's the greenhouse effect?

- The process in which invisible gases help to warm the Earth by trapping the Sun’s heat and preventing some of it from being reflected back into space.

Why is the greenhouse effect important?

- Warming of the Earth’s surface and lower atmosphere by the greenhouse effect keeps the Earth from becoming a frozen ball of ice.

What are the negative effects of human activity on the Earth's atmosphere?

- Carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide, have been increasing in the Earth’s atmosphere for more than a century as the result of human activity.

- By burning coal and oil, humans have increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere by 30% since the industrial revolution.

What are the signs of global warming from human emissions of heat-trapping gases?

- Rising seas, retreating glaciers, melting ice caps, and increasing sea & air temperatures.

Why should we care about current emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases?

- If current emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases go unchecked over the next 100 years, global warming could produce agricultural disaster in the world’s poorest countries, rising seas with coastal flooding throughout the world, and the spread of diseases carried by mosquitoes.

What have been done to limit the human emission of heat-trapping gases?

- An international agreement, known as the Kyoto Protocol to limit the human emission of heat-trapping gases was made in December 1997. It has had a limited effect on curbing global warming because it has not been ratified by China or the United States, two of the main climate-altering polluters.

- The world’s most influential science academies have warned national leaders that global warming from human emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases poses a clear and increasing threat.

- The 2007 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and to Albert Gore Jr. for their contributions to knowledge about man-made climate change and for laying foundations to measures needed to counteract the change.

- The Copenhagen Summit in December 2009 attempted to seek international consensus on ways to combat global warming, but it did not result in any legally binding treaty on limiting carbon dioxide emissions. Both China and the United States refused to accept such mandatory limits, but agreed with a hypothetical climate-change accord that has voluntary curbs and varying emission reductions for different countries.

What caused the major ice ages?

- The major ice ages, which repeat every 100 thousand years, are caused by astronomical rhythms that alter the angles and distances from which sunlight strikes the Earth.

Does the Sun get brighter and hotter as time goes on?

- The Sun is slowly getting brighter as time goes on. It will become hot enough in 3 billion years to boil the Earth’s oceans away, and 4 billion years thereafter, our star will balloon into a giant star, engulfing the planet Mercury and becoming hot enough to melt the Earth’s surface.

What does space weather refer to?

- Conditions on the Sun and in the Sun’s winds, the Earth’s magnetosphere, and the Earth’s outer atmosphere that can influence the performance and reliability of space-borne and ground-based technological systems and can affect human life and health.

What can explosive outbursts of solar flares and coronal mass ejections from the Sun do?

- Cripple spacecraft and seriously endanger unprotected astronauts that venture into outer space.

What can sun storms do?

- Disrupt global radio communications and disable satellites used for navigation, military reconnaissance or surveillance, and communication, from cell phones to pagers, with considerable economic, safety and security consequences.

What are solar proton events?

- Solar proton events are the most energetic and therefore the most dangerous solar energetic particles. They can severely affect the health of unprotected astronauts traveling outside the Earth’s magnetosphere, and they are capable of penetrating spacecraft to damage or disrupt sensitive technical systems.

- The strongest events produce radiation doses that might be lethal to astronauts fixing a spacecraft in outer space or taking a walk on the Moon or Mars.

What are interplanetary magnetic clouds?

- Interplanetary magnetic clouds travel behind interplanetary shocks, which are driven by coronal mass ejections.

- Such a magnetic cloud contains a well-organized, twisted magnetic flux tube, which can provide a “highway” for the transport of solar energetic particles.

What can coronal mass ejections do to Earth?

- When encountering Earth with the right magnetic alignment, coronal mass ejections can trigger intense geomagnetic storms, accompanied by exceptionally bright aurora, and compress the magnetosphere, exposing geosynchronous satellites to the full force of the solar wind.

What can solar X-rays and extreme ultraviolet radiation do to Earth?

- Solar X-rays and extreme-ultraviolet radiation both produce and significantly alter the Earth’s ionosphere. The solar X-rays fluctuate in intensity by two orders of magnitude, or a factor of 1/100, during the Sun’s 11-year magnetic activity cycle.

- Near maximum amounts of X-rays increased ionization, greater heat, and expansion of the Earth’s upper atmosphere, altering satellite orbits and disrupting communications.