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Final Study Guide

by: awright

Final Study Guide GSC 110

Marketplace > University of Miami > Geology > GSC 110 > Final Study Guide
GPA 3.9

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About this Document

All terms necessary for the final in GSC 110 defined.
The Earth System
Donald McNeill
Study Guide
50 ?




Popular in The Earth System

Popular in Geology

This 3 page Study Guide was uploaded by awright on Sunday February 28, 2016. The Study Guide belongs to GSC 110 at University of Miami taught by Donald McNeill in Fall 2015. Since its upload, it has received 41 views. For similar materials see The Earth System in Geology at University of Miami.


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Date Created: 02/28/16
Earliest Recorded Glaciation – 2.3 billion years ago Late Paleozoic ­ 50 or more glaciations occurred during this time period Long­term Climate Trends ­ Global climate has generally cooled; several instances where Earth's climate was warmer than today; several instances where Earth's climate was cooler than today Louis Agassiz ­ Swiss scientist that proposed the concept of glacial age with widespread effects  in 1837 Length of Glacial­Interglacial Cycle – Average of about 100,000 years Pleistocene Epoch ­ More than 20 glacial ages recorded; last 2.6 million years Last Glacial Period ­ 30,000 years ago; late Pleistocene epoch; extensive ice sheets over North  America and northern Europe; peaked 18,000 years ago Area of Former Glaciation ­ About 29% of Earth's present land area Area of Current Glaciation ­ 10% of world's land area (84% of which lies in Antarctic region) Shifting Continents ­ Cause of ice ages; allow warm ocean currents to carry warm tropical waters to polar regions and cool ocean currents to carry cooler polar waters towards tropics; changes  can block poleward heat transfer; absence of warm waters instigates ice ages Milutin Milankovitch ­ Serbian astronomer of early 20th century; developed astronomical theory  to account for ice ages Milankovitch’s Theory ­ Minor variations in Earth's orbit around Sun, tilt of earth's axis, cause  slight but important variations in amount of radiant energy reaching any given latitude on  planet's surface Three Variations in Earth’s Orbit ­ Eccentricity, tilt, and precession Eccentricity ­ Earth changes from circle to elliptical orbit; 100,000 year cycle Tilt ­ Earth's tilt wobbles from 21.5 degrees to 24.5 degrees; 40,000 year cycle Precession ­ Seasons change in direction axis is pointing; 20,000 year cycle Oxygen Isotopes ­ 16O and 18O are useful indicators of warm and cold climates; 16O is  evaporated preferentially and present more in ice during cold periods; records can be found in ice cores Ice Cores ­ Trap minute gas bubbles; used to measure composition of atmosphere when ice layer  was deposited; paleoclimatology Palynology ­ Study of pollen; pollen preserved in lake sediments is reflective of vegetation  around lake when deposited; used to determine vegetation changes that are linked to climates Hot House ­ Mean global temperature of 15 degrees Celsius Ice House ­ Much colder mean temperature; currently we're in the fourth ice house Wisconsin Glaciation Ice Sheets ­ About 21,000 years ago; Berengia Land Bridge intact Holocene ­ Current interglacial period; has climatic oscillations embedded with overall warming  period Climatic Optimum ­ When temperatures were about 4 degrees warmer than today Little Ice Age ­ From 1300 to mid 1800's; colder than present in Northern Hemisphere Atmospheric Influence on Climate ­ Dust levels in atmosphere, chemical composition of  atmosphere, changes in reflectivity of Earth's atmosphere Atmospheric Dust ­ Evidenced by microparticles found in ice cores;  unusually high  concentrations during glacial times; scattered incoming radiation back into space, further cooling Earth's surface Glacial Ice ­ Large areas of land are progressively covered; highly reflective surfaces scatter  incoming radiation back into space, further cooling lower atmosphere = albedo Ocean Circulation ­ Heat is released into the atmosphere as water cools and sinks in  thermohaline circulation; maintains a relatively mild climate in northwestern Europe; change  amplifies relatively small climatic effect attributable to astronomical changes Long­term Sea Level ­ Plate tectonics and volume of ocean basins; major periods of ocean ridge  activity; continent development Short­term Sea Level ­ Mainly driven by ice­house periods where continental ice­sheet develop Lowering of Sea Level ­ Atlantic coast of US south of New York lay as much as 150 km east of  its present position; joined Britain and France where English Channel now lies; formed a  continuous landmass across Bering Strait; plant and animal migrations were allowed Current Sea Level Rise ­ If Greenland ice sheet melted sea level would rise by 7 meters; if  Antarctica melted, sea level would rise by as much as 58 meters; varying predictions of future  sea level rise Younger Dryas Event ­ Example of when thermohaline circulation stopped; took Earth several  thousand years to recover Solar Variations ­ Energy output from sun fluctuates; correlations proposed between weather  patterns and rhythmic fluctuations in numbers of sunspots appearing on surface of sun Volcanic Eruptions ­ Eject huge quantities of ash into atmosphere, blocking sunlight; a few  months to a year; droplets of sulfuric acid scatter sun's rays Cloud Cover ­ Currently increasing and reflecting heat from the sun back into the atmosphere Problems with Record Keeping ­ Few instrumental measurements before 1850; vast regions with no weather data from before WWII; earliest records are land records; records from oceanic areas  are sparse Uncertainties ­ How rapidly will concentrations of greenhouse gases increase? HOw rapidly will  oceans respond to changing climate? How will changing climate affect ice sheets and cloud  cover? Composition of Air ­ Nitrogen (79%), Oxygen (20%), Argon (1%) Water Vapor ­ Usually present in Earth's atmosphere in concentrations of up to several  percentage points; accounts for 80% of natural greenhouse effect Greenhouse Gases ­ Carbon dioxide (84%), Methane (10%), Nitrous Dioxide (4%), and Ozone Seasonal Variations in Carbon Dioxide Levels ­ Less vegetation in winter means less CO2 being  absorbed by plants means more CO2 in the atmosphere Forecast for Glaciers ­ Glaciers will retreat; 3.3 degrees celsius temperature increase would cause snow line to rise an average of 500 meters or more; glaciers gone Environmental Effects of Global Warming ­ Reduction of sea ice, thawing of frozen ground, rise  of sea level, changes in the hydrologic cycle, decomposition of soil organic matter, and  breakdown of gas hydrates Climate Models ­ 3D mathematical models; most sophisticated are general circulation models  (GCMs); link atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere Boundary Conditions ­ Mathematical expressions of physical state of Earth's climate system at  period of interest for experiment; would include solar radiation reaching Earth, geographic  distribution of land and ocean, position and heights of mountains and plateaus, concentrations of  atmospheric trace gases, sea­surface temperatures, limit of sea ice, snow and ice cover on land,  albedo of land ice and water surfaces, and the effective soil moisture Carbon Reservoirs ­ Atmosphere as carbon dioxide; biosphere as organic compounds;  hydrosphere as dissolved carbon dioxide; crust as calcium carbonate in decaying buried organic  matter such as peat, coal, and petroleum; mantle as some carbon has been present since Earth  first formed


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