1. Define Earth’s atmosphere and describe some of the ways whereby it interacts with the other components of the Earth system.
2. Describe the role of outgassing in the evolution of Earth’s atmosphere.
3. What is the ratio of nitrogen (N2) to oxygen (O2) in the troposphere? Does this ratio change within the stratosphere?
4. Present several examples of how minor constituents of the atmosphere are essential for life on Earth.
5. How does human activity influence the composition of the atmosphere?
6. What role is played by scientific models in understanding atmospheric processes?
7. In what way was invention of the radiosonde a major step forward in monitoring the upper atmosphere?
8. Does the normal temperature profile of the troposphere imply that the troposphere is heated from above or from below? Justify your response.
9. How does the troposphere differ from the stratosphere?
10. Why is the aurora visible only at high latitudes?
1. Photosynthesis occurs chiefly during the growing season. Speculate on how variations in the rate of photosynthesis through the course of a year might influence the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
2. Radiosonde balloons typically burst at altitudes above about 30,000 m (100,000 ft). Why would a rising balloon eventually burst?
3. Speculate on how changes in the average temperature of the troposphere might affect the altitude of the tropopause.
4. Mountaintops are closer to the sun than are lowlands, and yet mountaintops are colder than lowlands. Why?
5. List the advantages of a numerical model over a physical model.
6. By convention, monthly mean temperatures and precipitation are computed for a recent 30-year period. Speculate on whether a 30-year summary of weather is representative of climate and its variability.
7. Explain why the ratio of nitrogen (N2) to oxygen (O2) is constant at about 4 to 1 throughout the homosphere.
8. Identify some natural processes and some human activities that can change the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. What might be the consequence of a change in CO2 concentration for climate?
9. How do scientific models aid scientific inquiry and critical thinking?
10. What type of events led to establishment of a national weather service? What do you think is the principal purpose of NOAA’s National Weather Service?