1. Of what two gases was Earth’s first atmosphere primarily composed?

            diatomic nitrogen, carbon dioxide

  1. What are the percentages of Earth’s three most abundant constant (non-variable) gases in the atmosphere?

            nitrogen (78.08%), diatomic oxygen (20.95%), argon (0.93%)

  1. What are the variable gas within Earth’s atmosphere?

            water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, hydrogen, nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide,

ozone, fluorocarbon 12

  1. According to the faint young Sun paradox, what percent of the energy did the early Sun output compared to its output today?

            25% – 30% less

  1. What is the average environmental lapse rate in the troposphere in Celsius degrees per kilometer?


  1. Which atmospheric layer is sometimes referred to as the “weather sphere”?


  1. Why do temperatures increase with height in the stratosphere?

            (temperature inversion) the absorption of UV radiation from the sun by ozone

  1. What is the peak energy wavelength emitted by the Sun?

            visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum (0.4μm to 0.7μm)

  1. Depletion of which gas in the stratosphere leads to increased amounts of UV radiation striking the surface of the Earth?

            ozone (O3)

  1. Which layer of Earth’s atmosphere is coldest and extends to about 80 km?


  1. In which layers of the atmosphere does the temperature generally decrease with height?

            troposphere, mesosphere

  1. What are the boundaries between layers following in Earth’s atmosphere called?

            tropopause, stratospause, mesopause

  1. What is the most abundant gas in the atmosphere?


  1. What is the process by which carbon dioxide reenters the atmosphere after having been tied up in organic matter known as?

            diffusion (fermentation/respiration)

  1. What atmospheric characteristic is directly related to the maximum amount of water vapor that may exist in the atmosphere?

            air temperature

  1. What is the absorption of energy radiated by Earth and reemission of some portion of that energy back downward to Earth is known?

            greenhouse effect

  1. What are the oxygen-intolerant microbes of the early Earth that may have created an early greenhouse effect by releasing CH4 known as?


  1. What gases are the released through the process of volcanic outgassing?

            diatomic nitrogen, carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, sulfur

  1. What do plants extract and release from the atmosphere when they perform photosynthesis?

            plants extract carbon dioxide and release oxygen during photosynthesis

  1. Is there evidence for widespread glaciations on the early (first billion years) Earth?

            little to no credible evidence

  1. In which layer of Earth’s atmosphere does most of Earth’s weather occurs?


  1. The Earth’s atmosphere has always contained oxygen.

            False little to no oxygen was found in Earth’s early atmosphere

  1. Do oceans act as a sink for carbon dioxide?


  1. Below what altitude does seventy-five percent of Earth’s atmosphere lie?

            8km – 20km

  1. Could greenhouse gases have helped early Earth’s atmosphere remain relatively warm despite a reduction in solar output?


  1. What is a temperature inversion?

Any situation in which the temperature of the static atmosphere increases as height increases.

  1. What has been the primary source of oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere for the past several million years?


  1. Do carbon dioxide concentrations within Earth’s atmosphere remain steady throughout the year?


  1. Have carbon dioxide concentrations risen linearly over the past 1000 years?

            no – carbon dioxide concentrations have risen exponentially

  1. What are aerosols?

            solid and liquid particles suspended above the surface that are too tiny for gravity

pull downward

  1. What do prokaryotes release to the atmosphere in the process of respiration?

            carbon dioxide

  1. Are eukaryotes more complicated organisms than prokaryotes?


  1. Variable gases may make up as much as what percent of the mass of the atmosphere? (Hint: Add all ppm values in Table 2.2. Note that 1% = 10,000 ppm).

            < 0.04%

  1. Is most of the radiant energy from the Sun classified as shortwave or longwave radiation?


  1. What atmospheric characteristic is used to demarcate the four distinct layers of Earth’s


            the increase or decrease in temperature with height


  1. When a temperature inversion occurs, how does temperature change with height?

            temperature increases with height

  1. At what wavelength (in micrometers) does the Sun emit most of its energy?


  1. How does the density of a gas change as its temperature changes?

            Charles Law: density decreases as temperature increases (if pressure remains constant)

  1. What holds Earth’s atmosphere close to its surface?


  1. When is the universe believed to have begun?

            13.8 billion years ago

  1. What is incoming solar radiation called?


  1. What is the time series of atmospheric carbon dioxide measured directly since 1957 known as?

            the Keeling Curve

  1. What is the balance between downward-directed gravity and upward-directed buoyancy called?

            hydrostatic equilibrium

  1. What law equates force with the product of mass and acceleration?

            Newton’s Second Law of Motion

  1. What law explains that energy moves from areas of higher concentration to areas of lower concentration.

            the second law of thermodynamics

  1. What is the process of converting lighter elements into heavier elements called?

            nuclear fusion

  1. In which atmospheric layer does the ozone layer exist?


  1. Which layer contains 75% of the mass of the atmosphere?


  1. Which layer largely conforms to the heterosphere?


  1. Which layer captures charged particles from the Sun that form the aurora borealis and aurora australis?


author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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