Presentation on theme: "PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 The Earth as a Planet."— Presentation transcript:
PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 The Earth as a Planet
PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 Announcements Reading Assignment –Chapter 18: sections 18-1 through 18-9 (pp. 378-399) 3 rd Homework due on Thursday. Public Lecture tonight at 7:30PM in this auditorium –Prof. Bob Strom: “ Global Warming ” –Look for sign-up sheet (5 pts e.c. added to total activities score) Next study-group session is tomorrow from 10:30AM-12:00Noon – in room 330. I will not be able to make office hours today.
PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 Earth as a Planet Densest planet in the solar system Largest terrestrial planet Only planet (currently) to have –Plate tectonics –Liquid water on the surface –Life –Oxygen-rich atmosphere –Other planets may have some of these (though not as much) – looking for them is important !
PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 Sources of Earth’s Energy
PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 The Earth’s Internal Structure The Earth’s inner and outer cores are composed of almost pure iron with some nickel mixed in The mantle is composed of iron-rich minerals Both temperature and pressure steadily increase with depth inside the Earth
PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 Earthquake Distribution
PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 Drift of Continental Plates over time About a few centimeters per year –Ranging from about the rate at which fingernails grow, to that of hair growth The continents were all together around 250 million years ago –The Earth is 4.56 Billion years old –That is only 0.4% of the lifetime of the Earth In terms of a human lifespan, that’s about 4 months !
PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 Plate tectonics Rigid plates move along the top of convective motions in the ashenosphere Molten material wells up at oceanic rifts, producing seafloor spreading, and is returned to the asthenosphere in subduction zones As one end of a plate is subducted back into the asthenosphere, it helps to pull the rest of the plate along Mid-Atlantic ridge
PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 Plate tectonics is responsible for most of the major features of the Earth’s surface, including mountain ranges, volcanoes, and the shapes of the continents and oceans
PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 Plate tectonics is involved in the formation of the three major categories of rocks: igneous rocks –cooled from molten material sedimentary rocks –formed by the action of wind, water, and ice metamorphic rocks –altered in the solid state by extreme heat and pressure
PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 The Earth’s atmosphere is divided into layers called the troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, and thermosphere In the troposphere, temperature decrease with altitude Ozone molecules in the stratosphere absorb ultraviolet light; thus temperature rises with altitude The Structure of Earth’s Atmosphere
PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 The Importance of Earth’s Atmosphere on the Surface Temperature By balancing the heat input from the Sun, with the heat radiated by the Earth, it is possible to determine the temperature of the Earth However, this gives a temperature that is much smaller than the actual one –The Earth should be well below freezing Why is the Earth so warm? –The Greenhouse effect !
PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 298K 293 K 288K 283K 278K Temperature The temperature of the soil just a few feet below Earth’s surface fluctuates on a daily cycle (this is the diurnal variation) as Sun warms the surface during the day, and the Earth cools off at night. The fact that the Earth’s surface is heated by the Sun is well known by those who walk barefoot in the summer!
PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 The Greenhouse Effect: Basic processes Energy coming from the Sun is absorbed by Earth’s surface and heats the Earth. –The wavelength of peak emission of solar radiation is in the visible part of the spectrum which is not significantly absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere The Earth radiates energy (like all heated objects), with a peak that is in the infrared part of the spectrum –Earth’s atmosphere contains certain gases that absorb infrared radiation (called greenhouse gases) –Because of the presence of these gases, the radiated energy from the Earth cannot escape! –The Earth is heated more until the right balance outward-directed energy equals the inward- directed energy
PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 Atmospheric Transparency Earth’s emitted infrared light cannot escape because the atmosphere blocks it – thus it heats the Earth until a balance is reached.
PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 Greenhouse gases Molecules that absorb infrared radiation Natural –Water Vapor H 2 O (most abundant) –Carbon Dioxide, CO 2 –Methane, CH 4 –Nitrous oxide, NO 2 Increased during industrial revolution –carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) –methane (CH 4 ) –nitrous oxide (N 2 O) –chlorofluorocarbons
PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 Greenhouse effect -- results Earth is warmed up –With no Greenhouse Effect, average temperature would be below freezing Changing amount of Greenhouse Effect changes Earth’s temperature, weather –Changes not uncommon during Earth history –Usually changes what species are present –Details almost impossible to predict
PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 Greenhouse Effect: misconceptions Greenhouse Effect has something to do with ozone depletion – it doesn’t! Greenhouse Effect involves reflected sunlight – it doesn’t! Greenhouse Effect is new phenomenon on Earth – it isnt! Greenhouse Effect is harmful to life – it isnt! UV blocking part Solar Spectrum Ozone hole
PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 Atmospheric Circulation Air flows from High pressure to Low pressure –High pressure – moist warm air (equator) –Low pressure – cool dry air (poles) If the Earth were not spinning on its axis, then there would be the classic “Hadley cells” which are large-scale atmospheric convection cells Hadley Cells for a Non-Rotating Earth
PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 The Coriolis force The atmospheric circulation patters are influenced by the Earth’s rotation. In particular, there is a an additional force on the atmosphere (it exists only for rotating objects) –It is called as the Coriolis force. –This force is responsible for altering the path of an object moving on a rotating object
PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 Circulation in our atmosphere results from atmospheric convection and the Earth’s rotation Because of the Earth’s rapid rotation, the circulation in its atmosphere is complex, with three circulation cells in each hemisphere
PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 The Solar Wind / Earth’s Magnetic Field Interaction and Earth’s Magnetosphere
PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 Earth’s Magnetosphere Earth’s magnetic field shields the planet from the Solar Wind It carves out a cavern in the solar wind called the magnetosphere The Van Allen radiation belts are part of Earth’s magnetosphere huge intensities of charged particles can be trapped
PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 How do magnetic fields shield us from charged particles? Magnetic fields influence the motion of charged particles Depending on the energy of the incident particle, it may be deflected by Earth’s magnetic field Solar wind and other high-energy solar particles are shielded by Earth’s magnetic field High-energy cosmic rays suffer only minor deflection by Earth’s field. Earth’s magnetic field can be used as a giant laboratory experiment to determine the properties of cosmic rays
PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 Origin of Aurorae Occasionally, a small amount of solar wind penetrates into Earth’s upper atmosphere. When charged particles strike molecules in the atmosphere, the molecules are excited and emit light with various colors (blue, green, and red, mostly) This happens at the poles because plasma moves mostly along lines of magnetic force that originate in Earth’s polar regions
PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 Aurora The pattern of auroral light around the north and south magnetic poles is called the auroral oval. It expands and contracts over a period of hours and days, depending on geomagnetic activity.
PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 Van Allen Radiation Belts James Van Allen insisted that the first spacecraft to leave Earth’s atmosphere be equipped with a Geiger counter to measure radiation They discovered the Van- Allen Radiation Belts
PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 What are the Van Allen belts? Radiation trapped in Earth’s magnetic field –Inner Belt: Cosmic-Ray Albedo Neutron Decay –Outer Belt: Trapped Solar Wind Particles can remain trapped for very long periods of times (years!) –An atomic bomb blast test in the upper atmosphere in 1962 “Starfish Prime” (now banned by treaty) filled the region with particles 5 years later, many of them were still there
PTYS/ASTR 206Earth 2/27/07 Starfish Prime test: skyglow as seen in Honolulu, 1962