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The Atmosphere. Trotter 2012-2013. Earth as a System. A system is a group of parts that work together as a whole. Open system: a system in which both matter and energy can enter or leave.

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the atmosphere

The Atmosphere

Trotter 2012-2013

earth as a system
Earth as a System

A system is a group of parts that work together as a whole.

Open system: a system in which both matter and energy can enter or leave.

Closed system: a system in which only energy is free to enter or leave; matter is confined within it; an example is a closed soda bottle

examples of systems
Examples of Systems
  • All systems on Earth are OPEN.
  • However, Earth itself is said to be a closed system.
systems on earth
Systems on Earth
  • Atmosphere
  • Geosphere
  • Hydrosphere
  • Cryosphere
  • Biosphere
  • The envelope of gases that forms Earth’s outermost layer.
  • It is made up of:
  • 78% Nitrogen
  • 21% Oxygen
  • 1% Other
  • The system contains all of Earth’s weather and climate. How does this affect Earth’s topography?

The adirondacks

  • All of Earth’s mass is found in Earth’s solid rocks and metals.
  • Three main parts:
  • -metal core, solid middle layer, and a rocky outer layer.
  • All of Earth’s surface is considered the Geosphere.
  • 75% of the Earth is covered in water.
  • Hydrosphere includes: oceans, rivers, lakes, groundwater, and water vapor.
  • 97% Salt Water!
  • 3% Fresh water
  • Consists of all the water in the form of ice on Earth.
  • Includes: glaciers, snowfields, ice caps, ice sheets, sea ice, and frozen ground.
  • How does this affect Earth’s Surface?


  • All living organisms on the Earth make up this sphere.
  • This includes:
  • Animals, bacteria, invertebrates, plants, fungus, Bouye and us!
the atmosphere1
The Atmosphere
  • The atmosphere of Earth is a layer of gases surrounding the planet Earth that is retained by Earth's gravity. The atmosphere protects life on Earth by absorbing ultraviolet solar radiation, warming the surface through heat retention (greenhouse effect), and reducing temperature extremes between day and night (the diurnal temperature variation).
  • The atmosphere becomes thinner and thinner with increasing altitude, with no definite boundary between the atmosphere and outer space.
  • Heated by transfer of heat to surface. This is where we live.
  • Temperature decreases with height.

September 2011

  • Temperature increases with height due to increased absorption of ultraviolet radiation by the ozone layer, which restricts turbulence and mixing.
  • Ozone O3

temperature decreases with increasing height


The outermost layer

Primarily Helium and Hydrogen

Fewer molecules with increasing altitude

vocab to know
Vocab to know










the sun and the earth
The Sun and the Earth

Sunlight must pass through the atmosphere before it reaches Earth’s surface.

Some sunlight is absorbed or reflected by the atmosphere before it can reach the surface. The rest of the sunlight passes through the atmosphere to Earth’s surface.

examples of how heat is transferred on earth
Examples of how Heat is Transferred on Earth:

Sun to Earth: Radiation

Hot sand to foot: Conduction

Wind currents: convection

The Earth uses all 3 forms!

biogeochemical processes in the atmosphere
Biogeochemical Processes in the Atmosphere

Water Cycle

Nitrogen Cycle

Carbon Cycle

water cycle evaporation
Water cycle: evaporation

Evaporation is when the sun heats up water in rivers or lakes or the ocean and turns it into vapor or steam. The water vapor or steam leaves the river, lake or ocean and goes into the air.

water cycle condensation
Water Cycle: Condensation

Water vapor in the air gets cold and changes back into liquid, forming clouds. This is called condensation.

You can see the same sort of thing at home... pour a glass of cold water on a hot day and watch what happens.  Water forms on the outside of the glass.  That water didn't somehow leak through the glass!  It actually came from the air.  Water vapor in the warm air, turns back into liquid when it touches the cold glass.

water cycle precipitation
Water Cycle: Precipitation

Precipitation occurs when so much water has condensed that the air cannot hold it anymore.  The clouds get heavy and water falls back to the earth in the form of rain, hail, sleet or snow.

water cycle collection
Water Cycle: Collection

When water falls back to earth as precipitation, it may fall back in the oceans, lakes or rivers or it may end up on land.  When it ends up on land, it will either soak into the earth and become part of the “ground water” that plants and animals use to drink or it may run over the soil and collect in the oceans, lakes or rivers where the cycle starts

disrupted cycle
Disrupted Cycle

Ocean Acidification: global warming of the ocean. Excess of CO2 being absorbed.

Global Warming: excess of CO2 in the atmosphere causing ice caps to melt at a faster rate.

CO2= pollution

nitrogen cycle
Nitrogen Cycle
  • N absorbed by plants
  • We eat plants
  • Animals eat plants
  • We use the bathroom
  • ..and return the N back to Earth!
  • component of the proteins that build cell material and plant tissue.
carbon cycle
Carbon Cycle

Where is Carbon found?



Dying animals


temperature vs heat
Temperature vs. Heat

Know the difference!

Temp: how rapid or slowly the molecules move around. Faster moving molecules= a higher tempature

Heat: TRANSFER of energy ( radiation, conduction, and convection)

ways to measure tempature
Ways to measure Tempature
  • Degrees Fahrenheit
  • Degrees Celsius
  • Kelvins
vertical temperature changes
Vertical Temperature Changes

Remember: the reason why it is cooler at the top of a mountain than at earth’s surface is because Earth’s surface is absorbing all of the sun’s radiation therefore becoming a heat source!

some vocab
Some vocab…
  • LCL ( Lifted condensation level): the height at which condensation occurs.
  • Air above the LCL cools more slowly than air below the LCL.
dew point
Dew Point

Temperature to which air must be cooled to reach saturation.

The dew point temperature is the temperature at which the air can no longer hold all of its H20(g) and some vapor must condense into liquid water.

Dew Point is always lower than or equal to the air temperature.

atmospheric relationships
Atmospheric Relationships

As T goes , P goes .

As T goes , P goes .

As T goes , D goes .

As T goes , D goes .


Wind changes with height in the atmosphere.

It is constantly disrupted by the friction that results from contact with trees, building and Earth’s surface.

So…would wind blow more strongly over the ocean or across the dunes?

  • Is the amount of water vapor..H20(g) in the air.
relative humidity
Relative Humidity
  • The ratio of H20(g) in a volume of air relative to how much H20(g) it can actually hold.
cloud formation
Cloud Formation
  • Clouds form when warm, moist air rises, expands, and cools in a convection current.
  • Many particles are used to make clouds including: dust, sea salt, and dirt.
  • Remember Dew point: is the point of condensation/saturation!

How rapidily any given air mass cools determines its stability.


The ability of an air mass to resist rising.

latent heat
Latent Heat

As H20(g) in the air condenses, energy is released!

It doesn't’t just go away….it is stored as Latent Heat!

how clouds rise and form
How clouds rise and form
  • Orographic lifting
  • And when 2 air masses of different temperatures meet.
types of clouds
Types of Clouds


high clouds, whispy and stringy

  • Puffy, lumpy looking clouds
  • Middle clouds
  • Sheets of clouds
  • Middle clouds
  • Low, gray rain clouds

Orographic lifting

Latent heat


Types of clouds: pg 288