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What four systems constitutes the Earth?
Geosphere, Biosphere, Hydrosphere, Atmosphere
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What is 1 AU?
1.496 times 10^8. The average distance between the Earth and Sun.
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Name the planets in order working outwards from the planet closest to the Sun.
Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune
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Why are the planets closest to the Sun called the terrestrial planets?
Rocky layer surrounding a metallic core. Most similar to Earth.
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How are the Javian planets different to the terrestrial planets?
Very cold due to limited insolation- mostly consist of solid water, methane and ammonia.
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What is the speed of light?
300,000 km s-1
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What is the diameter of the Earth?
Around 13,000km
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What is the diameter of the Sun?
1.4 times 10^g (109 x that of the Earth's diameter)
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What space area does all the matter in the solar system fill?
Less than a trillionth of the available space
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What is the Copernican model?
The Earth is one in a set of planet circulating the Sun/"sol". The Earth has a daily rotation, annual revolution and tilts on its axis.
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What is Kepler's 1st law?
Orbits are not circular- but elliptical. e= distance between the centre of an orbit and the focus(Sun). Closer e is to 0-more circular the orbit. Closer e is to 1- the more elliptical. Earth's e=0.017.
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What are the milankovitch cycles?
Three cyclic variations that influence the insolation reaching different parts of the Earth's surface. "Pacemakers of global climate". Eccentricity or orbit (100,000 yr cycle); Tilt(41,000 yr cycle); Precession/wobble (23,000 yr cycle)
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Which cycle has been the dominant cycle over the past 800,000 years?
Eccentricity cycle
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Define insolation
Amount of long wave infra red radiation per unit area of the Earths surface
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How much insolation does the equator receive compared to the poles and why
2.5 times. The Earths spherical shape means the equator is closer to the Sun. Solar radiation also hits the equator at a more direct angle and the higher latitudes at a more oblique angle- diffusing the radiation over a larger unit area.
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What is the boundary between the side of the Earth with daylight and the side facing away from the Sun called?
The terminator line
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What is uniformitarianism?Who formulated this?
James Hutton 1785- Being able to observe modern geological processes today and assume that the same processes have been active throughout geological time.
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What are the three types of unconformity?
Nonconformity- where underlying igneous rock was eroded before sedimentary layers formed on top. Angular- rocks are orientated differently due to land motion; Disconformity- gap/hiatus in the strata of sedimentary layers
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What are index fossils?
Fossils of flora species that existed for only a short interval of geological time. If found they indicate the period the rock was formed
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How does radiometric aging work?
Determining the ratio of parent: daughter isotopes of a radioactive material with a known half-life. You can calculate how old the rock is by working backwards to the number of years it would take to reach that ratio.
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How old is the Earth?
4.57 billion years (Ga)
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Working from the centre outwards describe the Earth's layers
Solid inner core, liquid outer core, gutenberg discontinuity, mantle, moho, lithospheric crust
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What was the theory Wegener proposed in 1915 and what was his evidence for this?
Once in the past- supercontinent Pangaea. Puzzle pieces/rock strata/mountain belts/fossils e.g. Mesosaurus/Palaeozoic glacial deposits/striations.
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Why was Wegeners theory not accepted?
His evidence could not explain how the continents could have been in a different position to those they are in today...
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How were the plate boundaries discovered?
Maps of earthquake locations and global heat flow distribution
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How is the Earths magnetic field produced?
The inner core heats the outer core. Iron in the outer core convects creating a system similar to an electric current. The coriolis effect causes the currents to stack up on each other forming a field with a North and South dipole.
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How does the magnetic field affect minerals in forming rocks?
Metallic minerals in forming rock align with the Earth's poles and are fixed when cooled.
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What affect did Palaeomagnetism have on acceptance of Wegener's theory?
Minerals in rocks dated to different periods are aligned differently creating a polar wander path? Couldn't be polar wander- directions are different in different continents so the continents must move in relation to the poles.= Continental drift
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How can paleomagnetism be used to provide evidence for Harry Hess's theory of seafloor spreading?
Magnetometer- +ve and -ve bands of rock either side of mid-oceanic ridge=symmetrical. Bands either side formed under same magnetic field stage (Normal vs. reversed).
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What other methods can be used to support the theory of seafloor spreading?
Radiometic dating- rocks furthest away= oldest. Rock bands closest=younger.
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What are the densities of oceanic and continental crust?
Oceanic- 3000 kg/m^3 Continental-2800kg/m^3
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What are the three main categories of plate boundary?
Convergent, divergent, transform
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What are the 4 types of fault? Examples?
Normal (mid Atlantic ridge/East African ridge), reverse,(Sunda Trench, Indonesia) thrust(Himalayas, Andes), strike-slip(San Andreas Fault).
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Any more types of faults? Example?
Inactive e.g. Great Glen Fault, Scotland
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What is the hypocentre?
Otherwise known as the focus of an earthquake- the point at which seismic waves are released.
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What are the 4 types of seismic waves?
Primary; Secondary; Love waves; Rayleigh waves
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How do seismic body waves move material?
Primary- compress and expand material in liquids, solids and gases. Secondary/shear move material up and down perpendicular to the direction of the waves
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How do the seismic surface waves move material?
Love waves- push the material back and forth along the surface. Rayleigh waves- act like water waves causing material to ripple like water with a rotation.
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How can the epicentre of an earthquake be located?
Seismic stations- seismometer will record arrival times of the 4 seismic waves. Intervals in arrival times expands with distance from epicentre. Time-travel curve graph- determine distance. Triangulate on map.
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How can earthquakes be categorised?
Moments magnitude scale (Mw); Mercalli intensity scale- severity of damage (Roman numerals)
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Which plate boundaries produce the biggest earthquakes?
Subduction e.g. Boxing Day 2004- 9Mw + tsunami (1/4 million fatalities)
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At what depth are earthquakes no longer produced?Why?
660km- crust= more ductile- less friction
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What is the difference between a fault scarp and a blind fault?
Blind fault- invisible beneath the ground while active. Fault scarp is produced when a fault intersects the ground surface producing a steep step.
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What is elastic rebound theory?
When after pressure builds up too high as a consequence of friction, one of the plates bounces back into position releasing the elastic strain
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What is the difference between plastic deformation and brittle deformation?
Brittle- where rock breaks along fractures and cracks into pieces. Plastic- where rock flows very slowly without breaking-no earthquakes.
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What is a volcano?
An erupting vent through which molten rock surfaces.
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What are the three products of volcanoes?
Volcanic gases&aerosols; Pyroclastic debris; Lava flow.
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What determines lava characteristics?
Chemical composition e.g. Si02 (silica) content
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How do basaltic and andesitic lavas differ?
Basaltic=low viscosity- can flow up to 30km/h for several 100km. Andesitic=more viscous, flows far slower.
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What are the landforms associated with basaltic/mafic lava?
Pillow basalt, Columnar jointing, A'a, Pahoehoe
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What type of eruptions occur at volcanoes with mafic lava? Example?
Explosive- vulcanian or plinian. Mt St Helens 1980.
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What are the three volcano shapes?
Shield, cinder cone, composite/stratovolcano.
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What is a caldera?
Gigantic volcanic depression up to 10km across. Produced when a volcano collapses in on itself after a huge eruption. e.g. Yellowstone- Crater Lake.
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Example of a fissure eruption?
Laki fissure, Iceland
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What happened at Lake Nyos, Cameroon in 1883?
Gases of hydrogen sulphide and Carbon dioxide were produced which flowed into settlements nearby, asphyxiating 1,742 people and 6,000 cattle.
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What was 1815 known as following the eruption of Mt Tambora?
The year without summer
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What is the composition of the atmosphere?
78.08% Nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen, most of remainder=argon. But other trace gases too.
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What are the layers of the atmosphere and what altitudes are they found at?
0-9/12 km=Troposphere; 13-50=Stratosphere, 50-80=Mesosphere, 80-100 km=Thermosphere
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What is the atmospheric pressure at sea level?
1013mbar / 1 atmosphere
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What is the principle of adiabatic heating and cooling?
When air is warmed, it expands and can hold more water. When air is cooled, it contracts and can hold less water- water condenses and forms clouds.
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What is relative humidity?
A ratio of how much water air is carrying compared to the maximum theoretically possible. 100%=saturated. Rainforest=4%. Desert=0.3%
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How is the aurora borealis and australis formed?
Some solar radiation is funelled to the poles by the magnetic field and knocks electrons from Nitrogen and Oxygen molecules forming positive ions that glow neon.
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What is wind?
The movement of air moving from an area of high pressure to low pressure?
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What causes high pressure and low pressure areas?
Differential solar heating- more heating effect on equator= rising air- low pressure. Where the air cools and sinks- high pressure.
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What is the coriolis effect?
A phenomenon caused by the rotation of the Earth on its axis which causes fluids such as water and air to curve as they travel across the Earth's surface.
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In which direction is air deflected in the Northern and Southern hemispheres?
Northern- air is deflected to the right. Southern- air is deflected to the left.
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What are the names of the atmospheric cells?
Hadley, Ferrel, Polar
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What are jet streams?
Fast flowing, high altitude westerlies over the polar front(30 degrees N) and horse latitudes(30 degrees N/S). Formed between the air masses of different pressures/temperatures.
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What is weather?
The local scale conditions of temperature, pressure, humidity, wind speeds etc. Affect a region for a period of time.
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What are the three types of fronts (boundaries between air masses)?
Cold, Warm, Occluded
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What cloud types form in front of cold fronts? why?
There is a rapid uplift of warm air as cold dense air moves beneath warmer air scooping it up. This produces large storms- Cumulonimbus clouds.
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What clouds form in front of warm fronts? Why?
Broad cloud cover e.g. Nimbostratus due to warm air slowly pushing away colder air as a wedge.
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What happens at an occluded front?
A fast moving cold front overtakes a warm front pushing the warmer air up between two cold fronts from the ground. Mix of clouds form.
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What are the cloud lifting mechanisms?
Orographic lifting, Convergence lifting, Frontal lifting, Convective lifting
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How are clouds named?
Shape and altitudinal height (Cirro, Alto, Nimbo) (Cirrus, Cumulus, Stratus)
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How and where do hurricanes form?
Over oceans + temperatures of 27 degrees C. Warm moist air risies, creates low pressure. When it condenses and releases heat- more moist air is drawn up deepening the low pressure. Due to the coriolis effect, the rising air is spun around the eye.
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In which direction do hurricanes spin?
North hemisphere- Anticlockwise. Southern hemisphere-Clockwise
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Define: climate
The average weather conditions experienced by an area over a minimum of 30 years.
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What is El Nino?
A term describing the change in oscillation of air and water in the S. Pacific between normal years and El Nino years (the reverse). This occurs every 2-7 years.
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What happens in a positive NAO year?
There is a greater pressure difference between the azores high and the icelandic low causing storms to take a more northerly projection across the Atlantic. This causes very wet, stormy winters in the UK and a dry winter in the Mediterranean,
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What happens in a negative NAO year?
Lower pressure gradient= storms take a more southerly route across Atlantic. Drier UK winter and wetter winter in Mediterranean.
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How long are glacial and interglacial periods?
Glacial=100,000years. Interglacials= 10-20,000 years
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How many glaciations have occured in the Quarternary?
3: Devensian, Wolstonian, Anglian
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When was the last glacial maximum?
22,000 years ago
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How are we able to determine glacial and interglacial periods?
Using oxygen isotope ratios in ice cores and deep sea sediment cores 18O:16O. 16O is evaporated from oceans more easily- either locked up in ice on land or flows back to the ocean- climate affects abundance in different sources.
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What is needed to form a glacier?
Cold climate where accumulation of snow> melting- no strong wind or avalanches to remove snowfall.
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What are the types of glacier?
Ice sheets, Mountain glaciers, Ice caps
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List some erosive features of glaciers
Cirque, tarn, arete, u-shaped valley, truncated spurs, fjords, hanging valleys
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List some depositional features of glaciers
Moraines, glacial marine sediment, erratics, glacial till, glacial lake bed sediment, loess, eskers, dropstones.
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What is glacial eustasy?
Where water is locked away in the terrestrial cryosphere- lowering the ocean volume and therefore the average sea level globally
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What is glacial isostasy?
Where glaciers exert a force on the crust and mantle below, producing a depression and lowering the continent. The mantle flows under the crust adjacent under the sea, and causes the oceanic crust to rise.
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What is isostatic rebound?
Where land that previously was weighed down with a mass of ice, is released from the pressure of the glacier as ice melts. The continental crust springs back up into equilibrium. E.g. Scotland.
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What influences the energy of a wave?
Wind velocity+ duration & fetch
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What do deep water waves become shallow water waves?
When the wave base (1/2 length) is less than the water depth
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What is the difference between constructive and destructive waves?
Constructive- stronger swash. Destructive- stronger backwash
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Why do waves refract when they hit the coast?
May approach the coast at an angle. Side of the wave that hits the shallows first- slow due to friction. Other side keeps travelling at normal speed- causes the wave to bend.
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Which parts of discordant coasts are waves concentrated upon?
Headlands- shallower due to wave cut platforms etc
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List some erosive coastal features.
Headland, cave, arch, blowhole, stack, stump, wave-cut platform, wave-cut notch.
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Why do beaches form?
Waves have less energy at this point- deposit material/less erosion.
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What is longshore drift?
Movement of sediment laterally along a coast due to waves hitting the beach at an angle.
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List some depositional coastal features.
Beaches, sand spit, baymouth bar, offshore bar, tombolo, tidal deltas, salt marsh
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What causes the tides?
The gravitational force of the Moon and Sun producing tidal forces. Tidal acceleration towards the Earth Moon line- water is pushed sideways into two bulges either side of the Earth.
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When are tides higher or lower?
High tides/Spring tides- when the Sun and Moon are aligned. Neap tides=littler- when Sun and Moon are at right angles.
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What is the effect of declination?
The moon's orbit is at an angle to the Earth's orbit by around 5 degrees so the centre of the tidal bulge in up to 28.5 degrees from the equator
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Why do some areas of the world have much larger tides than other locations?
Other complicating factors e.g. position of the continents- may effect how tidal forces are exerted across the ocean.
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Where are the highest tides in the world?
Bay of Funday, Canada- 17+ meters
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What are the three types of ocean current?
Surface, upwelling, deep ocean
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What are the two mechanisms controlling the ocean currents?
Winds (only affect upper 100m); Density-driven (usually very slow but also affect the deep ocean).
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What is the Ekman spiral?
This is the net movement of water 90 degrees from the direction of the wind caused by the friction shearing ocean layers in directions 45 degrees differently from the layer above.
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What are ocean gyres?
Circulation of ocean currents in the ocean basins caused by the combined effects of 4 forces: heating by the Sun, the wind, the coriolis effect and gravity. There is a clockwise motion in the Northern hemisphere and anticlockwise motion in the south.
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What shape are ocean gyres?
Depressions at the edges formed by the western and eastern boundary currents with a hill in the middle (3/4 m rise)
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How do western and eastern boundary currents differ?
Western currents= fast, thin and deep streams- travel 3-4km/h e.g. Gulf Stream. Eastern=slower(1km/h) and wider e.g. Canary current`
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How did we find out about the garbage patches at the centre of gyres?
Dead albatross chicks on midway island, pacific- stomaches full of plastic
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What type of oceanic current is produced along the Californian coast?
Coastal upwelling- when winds blow along the shore- the net movement is away from shore- water rushes up to replace this- upwelling
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How does upwelling work along the equator?
Winds converge and push along the equator. Water is moved away from the equator, deeper cold water rises to replace the displaced water
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Why is upwelling so important for life?
Brings nutrient rich water from the deep ocean floor to the surface where microorganisms e.g. phyoplankton can use the nutrients and photosynthesize-primary producers are needed to support aquatic food web
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Where is the densest water on Earth?
Around Antarctica- cold water- when ice forms salt is left behind. Strong winds produce evaporation-salt left behind- extremely dense.
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Why is the thermohaline circulation so important?
Stirs the ocean from top to bottom, mixing in co2,02 and water etc from the atmosphere
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What is the pacific decadal oscillation?
A long term ocean fluctuation of the pacific ocean that operates on a cycle of roughly 20/30 years and alternates between "warm" and "cool" phases.
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What are the warm and cool phases of the PDO?
Warm/positive=warm water along west coast of N.America and cold in rest of N. Pacific. Warm over equator. Cool/negative- cool along west coast N.America and equator but hot in rest of N. Pacific.
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How does the PDO affect Salmon?
+VE phase- less Salmon along California. -VE phase- more phase along w. American coast.
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What are the direct and indirect effects of the PDO?
Direct- temperature induced changes- affects growth rate, length of growing season, reproduction season. Indirect/changed in ocean transport- different distribution of phytoplankton etc.
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What are the three sections of the continetnal margins?
Continental shelf- shallow areas affected by waves and tides; Continental slope (4 degrees down angle) - gentle due to landslides/turbidity currents; Continental rise- at the bottom of slopes-made of the sediment deposits
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What are the abyssal plains?
4-6km below sea level. Flattest surface on Earth.
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What are the abyssal hills?
Linear ridges of rock either side of mid-oceanic ridges covered with a thin layer of deep sea sediments
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How does the type of sediment deposited differ with latitude?
Polar regions- glacial till marine sediments, Tropical shelves-Fossilised coral reef relicts+ Biogenic Calcareous ooze; Tropical deep sea-Biogenic Siliceous ooze, Temperate- river/estuarine deposits.
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What is the Carbonate compensation depth?
Depth of ocean at which water is no longer saturated with carbonate ions and so becomes soluble in water.
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List some organisms that use carbonate.
Benthic foraminifera- calcium carbonate shells; coral reefs- calcium carbonate shells
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List some organisms that use silica in their shells?
Siliceous plankton, ameoboid protozoa
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Where does pelagic red clay deposits tend to cap Caco3 deposits?
Beneath the CCD
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What are authigenic deposits?
Made in-situ e.g. Polymetallic/manganese nodules- minerals precipitate out from sea water and group together around a nuclei
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Where do the minerals used to make authigenic deposits originate from?
Black smokers (above 300 degrees C); White smokers (
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How can we know past concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere?
Mauna Loa, Hawaii since 1950. Before this- ice cores.
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How much of the carbon released by anthropogenic activity since the 1800s has been absorbed by the ocean?
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How does C02 react with ocean water?
C02+H20= Carbonic acid. Dissociates into bicarbonate ions + hydrogen ions. Bicarbonate ions dissociate into carbonate and hydrogen ions.
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By how much has the ocean pH changed since pre-industrial times?
Increased in H+ concentration by 30%. Change in pH of 0.1
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What is the predicted change in ocean pH by 2050?
Another decrease by pH 0.1
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How does the decrease in ocean pH affect calcareous organisms?
Calcium carbonate shells are weakened as carbonate becomes more soluble in the acidic water. Hydrogen ions react with carbonate ions in the water decreasing the availability making it harder to form shells- more energy to produce weaker shells/
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What past events may be used to predict affects on marine organisms of ocean acidification?
Permian Triassic Extinction Event (250Ma)- Siberian traps: 13,000t+ C02 over continuous eruption of 1Ma- 96% aquatic organisms died. Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum- C02 increased; 6 degrees C warming in 20Ka- shells deformed.
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What did Dixon et al find might happen to fish reared in waters of the acidity predicted for 2050?
Otoliths dont form properly- no response to sounds of predators etc.
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What is biodiversity like in reefs around volcanic vents?
40% less diversity. Dominated by a few large bulbous corals.
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What is the predicted loss to the economy by 2100 caused by reduced ecosystem services in response to acidification?
US$1 trillion
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What is the current CO2 concentration in the atmosphere?
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If cop21 is successful what will a temperature increase be limited to? If business as usual?
2.7 degrees C. 4 degrees C+
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Card 2


What is 1 AU?


1.496 times 10^8. The average distance between the Earth and Sun.

Card 3


Name the planets in order working outwards from the planet closest to the Sun.


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Card 4


Why are the planets closest to the Sun called the terrestrial planets?


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Card 5


How are the Javian planets different to the terrestrial planets?


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