(1) Discuss which of the interrelationships between the environmental spheres, in your experience, has had the biggest effect on human society, or vice versa. Give some examples.
The work of Manahan (2005) explains that there are four traditional environmental spheres including the hydrosphere, atmosphere, geosphere and the biosphere. It is related however, that a fifth sphere should be included and that is the anthrosphere, which consists of "the things humans make and do." (Manahan, 2005) The atmosphere is reported as a very thin layer compared to the size of Earth, with most atmospheric gases lying within a few kilometers of sea level. The atmosphere serves a vital protective function in that it absorbs highly energetic ultraviolet radiation from the sun that would kill living organisms exposed to it.
A specifically important aspect of the atmosphere is that the atmosphere serves a vital protective function in that it absorbs highly energetic ultraviolet radiation from the sun that would kill living organisms exposed to it. The atmosphere stabilizes the temperature of the earth and is the medium in which water evaporated from oceans as the first step in the hydrologic cycle is transported over land masses to fall as rain over land." (Manahan, 2005) The earth's water is contained n the hydrosphere.
The lithosphere ":is a thin layer extending from the surface of the earth to depths of 50-100 km. The biosphere is composed of all living organisms, which live on the surface of the geosphere on soil, or just below the soil surface." (Manahan, 2005) The water of the earth cannot do without the proper functioning of the atmosphere and neither can life on earth survive without the atmosphere. It is the belief of this writer that the atmosphere has suffered greatly due to industrialization and other process of civilization that have created harm to the atmosphere thereby harming all spheres of the environment.
(2) Discuss the characteristics of the Terrestrial and Jovian planets and their moons. Which might be likely to support life and why?
The Jovian planets are 'gas giants' and are not composed of solid matter. The planets are reported to have "10 times more mass than the Earth." (Buzzle, 2012) It is reported that the primary difference between Jovian and Terrestrial planets are their size as the terrestrial plants are small on comparison to the Jovian planets. Terrestrial planets are comprised of solid rock and are fifteen times smaller than the Jovian planets. (Buzzle, 2012)
The atmosphere of the terrestrial planets is comprised mainly by nitrogen and carbon dioxide and the Jovian planet's atmosphere is comprised of primarily hydrogen and helium. Another difference is that the terrestrial planets are closer to the sun than are the Jovian planets. The terrestrial planets rotate at a speed five times that of the Jovian planets.
Finally, the Jovian planets have many satellite planets orbiting them while the terrestrial planets have only a very few. It is not presently known whether the Jovian moons may support life. It was initially believed that Jupiter's moon Europa might support life but science has discovered that its oceans are far too acidic. (Choi, 2012, paraphrased) Reports state that the Jovian planets have been a discussion among scientists for many years but it is yet unknown if any of the Jovian moons might support life.
(3) Discuss why mapping is important to society. Identify key features relevant to mapping.
Geologic maps are reported to be "the single most important and valuable tool we have for understanding and living with the earth around us. Their usefulness is so broad that geological maps are the most requested scientific product produced by state and federal geological surveys." (Thomas, 2004) Geologic maps make provision of "predictive information for resource discovery as well as for the design of buildings, canals, roads and drainage of farmland, environmental planning and development." (Thomas, 2004)
A geologic map is reported to graphically communicate important information about the distribution of rocks and unconsolidated materials at and near the Earth's surface." (Thomas, 2004) A geological map uses different colors for representation of various rocks and unconsolidated materials. It is important to understand the colors in order to interpret the geologic map. (Thomas, 2004)
There are rocks of three types that are fundamentally differentiated and include: igneous rocks which crystallize from melted rock material; (2) sedimentary rocks which originate on the surface of the Earth as accumulations of layers of loose sediment eroded from older rocks; and metamorphic rocks which are altered by pressure and heat give off by older rocks. (Thomas, 2004)
(5) What benefits to human life are provided by Earth's atmosphere? Explain your answer
The earth's atmosphere provides several benefits to human life and as noted earlier in this work in writing the atmosphere serves a vital protective function in that it absorbs highly energetic ultraviolet radiation from the sun that would kill living organisms exposed to it. A specifically important aspect of the atmosphere is that the atmosphere serves a vital protective function in that it absorbs highly energetic ultraviolet radiation from the sun that would kill living organisms exposed to it. The atmosphere stabilizes the temperature of the earth and is the medium in which water evaporated from oceans as the first step in the hydrologic cycle is transported over land masses to fall as rain over land." (Manahan, 2005)
The atmosphere of the earth provides oxygen and as well provides wind patterns that drive the upwelling of the ocean. Human beings are reliant on the atmosphere for wind to power turbines, sails, and ventilators and the needed rainwater for drinking and agriculture. (http://eo.ucar.edu/asl/pdfs/ASLbrochureFINAL.pdf, 2012)
(5) Explain the natural greenhouse effect in the Earth's atmosphere and how humans might be contributing to its effect.
The primary cause of the current global warming trend is held by most climate scientists to be due to "human expansion of the greenhouse effect -- warming those results when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space." (NASA, nd) There are gases in the atmosphere that keep heat from escaping and specifically "long-lived gases" that remain in the atmosphere on a semi-permanent basis and which "do not respond physically or chemically to changes in temperature and which are believed to be "forcing climate change whereas gases, such as water, which respond physically or chemically to changes in temperature are seen as 'feedbacks'." (NASA, nd) Included among these gases is carbon dioxide, which is a human generated gas.
According to NASA, "in its recently released Fourth Assessment Report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of 1,300 independent scientific experts from countries all over the world under the auspices of the United Nations, concluded there's a more than 90% probability that human activities over the past 250 years" that have contributed to the planet's warming. (nd) NASA states that "…industrial activities that our modern civilization depends upon have raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 280 parts per million to 379 parts per million in the last 150 years." (nd)
(6) In a changing global climate, how do you think jet streams would change and what effects might that have on society?
The jet stream is stated to be defined as "a current of rapidly moving air that is usually several thousand miles long and wide, but is relatively thin." (Briney, nd) The jet stream is reported to be found "in the upper levels of Earth's atmosphere at the troposphere and stratosphere." (Briney, nd ) Jet streams contribute to worldwide weather patterns and as such, they assist meteorologist in the weather forecast depending on the position of the jet streams. Jet streams additionally affect air travel since flying in or out of the jet streams can either reduce or increase flight time and fuel consumption. (Briney, nd, paraphrased)
There are two primary jet streams in the northern hemisphere. Briney (nd) states "While jet streams do exist in the southern hemisphere, they are strongest between latitudes of 30°N and 60°N. The weaker subtropical jet stream is located closer to 30°N. The location of these jet streams shift throughout the year however and they are said to "follow the sun" since they move north with warm weather and south with cold weather." Long distances, even up to thousands of miles are covered by the jet streams.
Hill (2008) states that The jet streams are the driving factor for weather in half of the globe. So, as you can imagine, changes in the jets have the potential to affect large populations and major climate systems." Freedman (2012) writes that a study conducted at Rutger University and University of Wisconsin-Madison shows that "by changing the temperature balance between the Arctic and mid-latitudes, rapid Arctic warming is altering the course of the jet stream, which steers weather systems from west to east around the hemisphere. The Arctic has been warming about twice as fast as the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, due to a combination of human emissions of greenhouse gases and unique feedbacks built into the Arctic climate system."