4.7: Summary and Final Tasks - Geosciences

4.7: Summary and Final Tasks - Geosciences

Atmospheric composition, even of trace gases, has a huge influence on weather and climate. The atmosphere cleans itself of these gases by atmospheric chemistry, which oxidizes the gas emissions and produces new chemicals that contain oxygen and so are stickier and more water soluble.

These new chemicals can be removed from the atmosphere either by hitting surfaces and sticking or by being taken up in clouds or rain drops and precipitated to the ground. The main oxidant is hydroxyl (OH), which is made with ozone, UV sunlight, and water vapor and starts the removal sequence by reacting with gas emissions. In these reaction sequences ozone pollution is produced if the pollutant nitric oxide (NO) is also present.

This pollutant ozone is nearby and is harmful to human health and agriculture. Stratospheric ozone, on the other hand, shields Earth from harmful UV, and is made a completely different way – by the breaking apart of O2 to produce O, which reacts readily with O2 to form O3. Some of this stratospheric ozone is then transported to Earth, but at levels much lower than pollutant levels. Methane oxidation is an example of the VOC reactions that produce ozone and particles.

An important concept is the atmospheric lifetime of gases and particles. This can be determined by solving a simple linear differential equation. The methane lifetime was shown to be about 10 years.

Particles have many natural and anthropogenic sources; some are emitted directly from the sources (primary particles) and some are produced by atmospheric chemistry (secondary particles). Particles affect human health, visibility, scattering and absorption of light, and are essential for cloud formation, as will be seen in the next lesson on cloud physics.

Reminder - Complete all of the Lesson 4 tasks!

You have reached the end of Lesson 4! Double-check that you have completed all of the activities before you begin Lesson 5.

Chapter 7: Section 8 - North American Biomes

In this section you will find materials that support the implementation of EarthComm, Section 8: North American Biomes.

Learning Outcomes

  • Carry out an investigation of the major biomes of North America.
  • Analyze data on a map of North American biomes.
  • Obtain information about the factors that determine the distribution of biomes on Earth.


  1. To find scientific information about most common plants and animals in your biome, visit the following web sites:

Exploring the Environment

Biomes of North America, Palomar College
Provides detailed descriptions of biomes.

Characteristics of the Earth's Terrestrial Biomes, Dr. Michael Pidwirny, University of British Columbia Okanagan
Provides descriptions of the animals and plants in different biomes.

Inquiring Further

  1. To learn more about herbivores and carnivores, visit the following web site:


To learn more about this topic, visit the following web sites:

Climate and Biomes

Biomes, Wheeling Jesuit University
Examines biomes and the climates and ecological communities which define them.

Mission Biomes, NASA
Describes the precipitation, vegetation, and location characteristics of Earth’s biomes.

The World’s Biomes, University of California Museum of Paleontology
In-depth descriptions of the animal, plant, and climate features of Earth’s biomes.

Geology & GeoSciences jobs

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Reporting to the Chief Mine Geologist, the successful candidate will be responsible for carrying out a variety of geology assignments and assisting.

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The Global Positioning System for the Geosciences

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