The Earth and The Atmosphere

Question 1

The earth experiences different seasons because of its alignment or axis as it rotates; its angle of tilt relative to the earth’s orbit plane around the sun is 23.5 degrees coined this obliquity and also by the fact that the earth’s northern axis constantly points to the same direction. The earth has two hemispheres; northern and southern. Therefore, each of them is oriented towards the sun half of the year and away half of the year. At an instance where the northern hemisphere points to the sun’s direction, the southern hemisphere experience winter while the northern hemisphere experiences summer. Summer experienced in the northern hemisphere is because rays from the sun reach the surface directly and are concentrated causing the surface to heat faster (“Can you explain why the Earth has seasons,” n.d.). Conversely, the southern hemisphere receives a similar amount of sun’s rays lateral angle thus dispersing the light rays making them less concentrated and cold.

When the southern hemisphere is oriented in the direction of the sun, it experiences summer while the northern hemisphere experiences winter. This is because the rays of the sun hit the surface of southern hemisphere more directly and with more concentration, therefore, the surface heats quickly. The northern hemisphere pointing away from the sun will experience less direct sun rays hitting the surface, therefore, the surface is cold; a period called winter (“What causes the seasons? ,” n.d.). The season experienced in the northern hemisphere takes place oppositely with those occurring in the southern hemisphere; that is when southern is experiencing winter, the northern is experiencing summer.

Question 2

Light from the sun looks white but is comprised of all colors of the rainbow. These light waves emanating from the sun have varied wavelengths and traverses space. In the earth’s atmosphere, these waves are acted upon by particles present in the air such as dust, water droplets, and ice crystals. The light waves are tiny in size and they also interact with gas molecules of the air that are equally tiny. These interactions cause the light waves to be scattered in different directions, depending on the magnitude of the particles in comparison with light’s wavelength. Particles of lesser magnitude/size than light’s wavelength scatters blue light powerfully than red light (“The Optical Society ,” n.d.). The earth’s atmosphere is comprised of tiny molecules of gas in the air that scatter blue sunlight everywhere which creates the effect of blue sky.

The gas molecules in the atmosphere scatter red lights within a range of light that we can see. As the sun sets, the light waves from the sun travel at a longer range to get to us and the blue light waves have been detached and what remains is majorly red and yellow light. The outcome is that light from the sun appears either orange or red, and this is visible when clouds or other objects reflect giving it a colorful effect. Other contributors to this effect are tiny dust particles and pollution agents (“Why is the sky blue? ,” n.d.). Large pollution agents or dust scatter sunlight in a manner that alters slightly these colors thence we see a seemingly gray sky that is dusty or polluted.

Question 3

The greenhouse effect occurs due to the interaction between the energy from the sun and greenhouse gases found in the atmosphere like; carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases. These interaction causes trapping of heat and is referred to as greenhouse effect. The structure of molecules in the greenhouse gases is atomic, enabling the gases to trap solar heat in earth’s atmosphere and re-transmit the heat to earth’s surface resulting in warmth than it would have been if the heat from the sun hit the earth surface directly. Continued process of heat-trapping results in a global temperature increase (“Effects of increased greenhouse gas emissions,” 2014). As the sunlight reaches earth’s surface, a portion of it is absorbed in the earth’s surface warming it, while a portion is reflected back to space in form of heat and circulated by water vapor as a feedback.

However, human actions on earth such as industrialization, deforestation and sweltering of fossil fuel have resulted in an intense greenhouse effect. Global warming is one effect which in turn causes desertification, an increase in melting of snow and ice, increase in sea level and heavy storms and hurricanes. The oceans have become more acidic since as carbon dioxide is emitted, the oceans usually absorb forming carbonic acid. As carbon dioxide is emitted, the composition of air is altered. Plants require carbon dioxide alongside other nutritious gases hence alteration disrupts growth (“Effects of increased greenhouse gas emissions,” 2014). The resulting effect of high exposure to ozone leads to decrease in life expectancy.  It has also lead to depletion of ozone layer.

Question 4

Weather, regional climate, and global conditions are affected by various natural courses. Among the natural parts of the climate system in the globe are El Niño and La Niña occurrences. They occur due to fluctuations and irregularities in the composite water conveyor belts of oceans around the globe. They take place when the Pacific Ocean and the atmosphere over it become irregular for a number of seasons. El Niño and La Niña often known as Southern Oscillation and abbreviated ENSO incidences are related to heating of the central and east side tropical Pacific (Archaeology et al., n.d.). The ocean and atmosphere above it interact strengthening each other and forming a loop that looks like a feedback which in turn intensifies the little alterations in ocean’s form

The two are effective opposite, La Niña being different in the sense that it is designated by lengthy seasons of temperatures of the sea within the same region. In El Niño seasons, the pressure of the atmosphere is below the normal in the west side of Pacific regions and above normal in the less cold waters of the west side of Pacific. On the other hand, La Niña has strong winds when taking warm water in the western direction across the Pacific resulting in colder temperatures than usual in the east side and temperatures warmer than usual in the west side (Archaeology et al., n.d.). The outcome of this is an increase in plankton in regions experiencing cool temperatures causing a positive impact on the sea life that is dependent on plankton.