AP Environment Chapter 4

In case you guys don't remember, Chapter 4 was that scary long chapter that we focused on the biomes, layers of the atmosphere, weather, climate, and all that good stuff. Godspeed on the midterm.

Growing Grapes to make a fine Wine:

Winemaking came from the mediterranean. When colonization came about, European nations took wine and wine making along with them. Wine making isn't exactly simple however, they need to have a hot dry summer to grow correctly or they can be affected by outbreaks of grape vine diseases stopping the whole operation. The five regions with the best growing conditions are all situated between 30 and 50 degrees latitude next to the ocean and typically on the western side of continents. Today, winemakers are facing troubles with changing climates and are being forced to move farther north and have not previously ideal conditions. The art of winemaking serves as a fine demonstration of that due to climate change we can expect changes in species that live in the regions and changes the way humans use these ecosystems.

"Explain the forces that drive global circulation patterns and how those patterns determine weather and climate."

Whats the difference between weather and climate?

Basically a measure of time. Weather is is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time. On the other hand, climate is how the atmosphere acts over long periods of time.

List the layers of the atmosphere starting from the Earth's surface moving up.

Troposphere, Stratosphere, Mesosphere, Thermosphere, Exosphere

Identify the temperature differences between each layer and science behind these differences.

Troposphere: The temperature in the troposphere is the temperature here that we feel on earth. Temperatures in this layer decrease with distance away from the earth's surface and varies with latitude and the troposphere can reach as low as -62 degrees Fahrenheit.

Stratosphere: The stratosphere also has varying temperatures. Its right above the troposphere and the bottom layers of the Stratosphere follows the same theme with staying very cold. However, the upper layers of the Ozone absorb UV Radiation and convert them to infrared radiation which is released as heat in turn, heating up the upper layers of the Stratosphere.

Mesosphere: Temperatures in the mesosphere drop with increasing altitude to about -100C. The mesosphere is a very cold layer. In fact, its the coldest of the atmospheric layers.

Thermosphere: The literal name of the thermosphere is "heat sphere". Temperatures can usually exceed 1000C because the molecules in this layer receive an extraordinary amount of heat coming from the sun. Hottest layer.

List the important traits of each layer as it pertains to the environment and humans.

Troposphere: This is an important layer for us earthlings. This is the most dense atmospheric layer and important to us because it contains nitrogen, water vapor, and the oxygen that we breath.

Stratosphere: The stratosphere provides critical support to the us because it contains the ozone layer. The ozone layer is important to us because it absorbs the UV light in the atmosphere. Otherwise, UV light (UV-B and UV-C) can cause damage to DNA as well as cancer to organisms.

Mesosphere: The mesosphere goes kinda unloved by scientists as its the most unstudied layer of the atmosphere. However, the mesosphere stops "celestial rocky masses" from entering the the atmospheric envelope of the earth because they burn up and form "luminous meteors" (shooting stars).

Thermosphere: This is a particularly important layer for organisms on earth as it stops harmful X-Rays and UV-Rays from entering earth. Oh yeah, and light. The thermosphere contains charged gas molecules that when hit by energy from the sun, light up. Kinda like a light bulb!

Explain how tilt of the earth relates to seasons and identify the Earth's position for each season in the northern hemisphere.

The seasons that we experience are caused by varying amounts of solar energy striking various latitudes on Earth. For the same reason, the amount of solar energy reaching various latitudes over the course of the year.

Due to the earths axis rotation or tilt of 23.5 degrees, earths orbit around the sun causes most regions around the experience seasonal changes in temperature as well as precipitation.

Spring: The beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere is marked by the March equinox in which the sun is located directly overhead of the equator and all regions of earth have 12 hours of sunlight and 12 hours of darkness.

Winter: In the Northern Hemisphere, winter is marked by the December solstice. The Earth is now maximally tilted away from the sun. Hours of sunlight is very decreased the shortest day of the year occurs.

Fall: Autumn begins when the September Equinox occurs. The sun is back directly overhead of the equator just like the March equinox except this time spring begins in the Southern Hemisphere.

Summer: Its summer time when the June Solstice occurs. The Northern Hemisphere is now maximally tilted towards the sun and it experiences the longest day of the year.

Define Albedo and identify areas on the earth with low and high albedo.

Albedo: the proportion of the incident light or radiation that is reflected by a surface, typically that of a planet or moon.

An example of albedo would be that a black surface receives much less albedo than a white surface. So on Earth, tropical regions with dense foliage receive along the lines of 30% albedo while a place like a snow-covered polar region would receive 80-95% albedo.

Define adiabatic heat and adiabatic cooling and connect each to convection currents.

Adiabatic Heat - The heating effect of increased pressure on the air as it sinks toward the surface of Earth and decreases in volume.

Adiabatic Cooling - The cooling effect of reduced pressure on the air as it rises in the atmosphere and expands.

Atmospheric Convection currents are global patters of air movement that are initiated by unequal heating of the earth. The way that the currents get their name is because they involve the movement of air that absorbs and releases heat, where adiabatic cooling and heating come into play.

Identify the location of Hadley cells and polar cells on a globe.

Atmospheric convection currents are involved in both hadley and polar cells. In fact, Hadley cells are convection current that can be found between the equator and at approximately 30 degrees north and 30 degrees south on the globe.

Another convection current would be the polar cells. However, differing from the hadley cells, polar cells are more complex in a sense that they are formed by air that rises at 60 degrees north and 60 degrees south where its cooled and turned into precipitation. The air at the poles move back towards 60 degrees north and 60 degrees south, thus completing the cycle.

Long story short here:

Hadley Cells: Between Equator and 30 degrees north and south

Polar Cells: 60 degrees north and south

Explain the effect Hadley cells and Polar cells have on global climate.

Collectively, the convection currents move warm air of the tropics toward the mid-latitude and polar regions. Because these currents determine the patters of temperature and precipitation around the world, they are mainly responsible for the locations of certain biomes.

Explain what the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and its connection to weather.

The Intertropical Convergence Zone is the latitude that receives the most intense sunlight which causes the ascending branches of the two Hadley Cells to converge.

The ITCZ moves north and south of the equator over the course of a year. Because of this, tropics receive seasons of high and low precipitation.

Describe the Coriolis Effect and use it to determine global wind patterns.

The Coriolis effect is saying that the rotation of Earth causes the deflection of objects that are moving directly north or south.

The Coriolis effect causes global wind patterns to blow in a diagonal direction due to the rotation of the Earth. In fact, without the coriolis effect, wind would blow directly from the poles to the equator because of pressure differences of the two regions. Instead, the north and south winds are effected slightly in direction.

The Coriolis effect causes winds in the Northern hemisphere to shift right and the winds in the Southern hemisphere to shift left because the earth is rotating (under the wind current) in a very fast counterclockwise direction.

Most weather systems behave in this same way with the only exception being low pressure systems. Here, the winds blow in reverse due to the pressure gradient canceling out the Coriolis effect.

Define gyres and identify their role in global climates.

Gyres - Large-scale patterns of water circulation that move clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.

Similar to atmospheric convection currents, Gyres redistribute heat in the ocean. Cold water from the polar regions move along the west coasts of continents, and the cool air above these waters bring colder temperatures to adjacent continents. On the other hand, warm water from the tropics moves along the east coasts of continents and the warm air above cause warmer temperatures on land.

Connect upwellings to ocean productivity.

An upwelling is the upward movement of water towards the surface. The deep waters coming up bring nutrients from the bottom that support large population of producers which in turn support large populations of fish that are important to people like commercial fishers.

Explain the science behind thermohaline circulation

Thermohaline circulation is another oceanic circulation pattern that drives the mixing of surface water and deep water.

The way Thermohaline circulation works is that very salty water, caused by freezing and evaporation of other water where the salt is left behind, is dense enough for it to sink towards the bottom of the ocean and mix with deeper ocean waters.

Identify the differences in ocean temperatures and weather based El-Nino.

The cause of El-Nino is due to a reversal of wind and water currents in the South Pacific.

This allows warm equatorial water from the western pacific to move east-equatorial water towards the western coast of South America.

The El-Nino has widespread effect on weather conditions as well as Southeastern United States experience cooler, wetter conditions and Southern Africa and Southeast Asia experience unusually dry weather.

Identify the properties on different sides of a mountain based on the rain shadow effect and know the science behind why the rain shadow effect occurs.

The dry region formed on the leeward side of the mountain as a result of the humid winds from the ocean that cause precipitation on the windward side is known as a rain shadow.

The leeward side of the mountain, cold, dry air descends and warms via adiabatic heating, and causes much drier conditions. Meanwhile, on the windward side of the mountain, air rises and cools, and large amounts of water vapor condense to from clouds and precipitation.

Correctly identify biomes on the Whittaker diagram based on their average temperature and annual precipitation.

Label biomes on a map of the world.

World Map of Biomes

List the major characteristics, identify growing seasons, and unique terms that apply to the following biomes and the reasons behind the characteristics.


Location: Northernmost Hemisphere in Russia, Canada, Scandinavia and Alaka.

Weather: Typically very cold. Usually below 5 degrees Celsius. With the weather, there is a four month growing season and low precipitation rates.

Species: Small woody shrubs, mosses, heaths, and lichens.

Boreal Forest:

Location: Found between 50 and 60 degrees north as well as Europe, Russia, and North America.

Weather: The weather in boreal forests are characterized by long cold winters, short growing seasons, and low precipitation rates.

Species: Coniferious evergreens, birch, maple, and aspen woods.

Temperate Seasonal Forests:

Location: China, Japan, Chile, Eastern US, and Australia.

Weather: Warm summers and colder winters compared to temperate rainforests. Heavily influenced from ocean. Typically have long growing seasons.

Species: Broadleaf deciduous trees, oak, hickory, and maple trees.

Temperate Rainforests:

Location: East Coast of Australia, West Coast of New Zealand, and West coast of North America.

Weather: Typically higher precipitation rates. Mild, foggy summers and rainy winters. All year growing season due to ocean currents from the coast.

Species: Costal redwoods, spruce, mainly coniferous trees.


Location: Coast of Southern California, Southwestern Australia, surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.

Weather: All year growing season. Low precipitation rates in the summer and low temperatures in the winter causes issues with plant growth.

Species: Drought resistant shrubs, grapes for wine

Temperate Grassland:

Location: Great plains in North America, South America, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia.

Weather: Cold, harsh winters. Hot and dry summers with low precipitation rates. Long growing seasons.

Species: Non-woody flowering plants that are adapted to wild fires. Grasses. Major issues with wildfires in this area prevents trees from growing.

Tropical Rainforest:

Location: Central and South America, Large Tropical island, and northeastern Australia.

Weather: Very warm and wet with small temperature variation throughout the seasons and large amounts of precipitation coming from the ITCZ. All year growing season.

Species: Lots of vegetation including canopies, vines, and epiphytes.

Subtropical Desert:

Location: Sahara Desert, Mojave Desert, Arabian Desert, and the Great Victorian Desert

Weather: Extremely hot and dry conditions with no growing season.

Species: Very little vegetation however, things like cacti, euphorbs, and succulents can survive.

Explain the properties of a rivers and streams that make it different than a lake.

Rivers and streams (lotic systems) are characterized by moving water. An increase in volume or depth of a river, or a steepening of its gradient, will result in an increase in its velocity as well.

The main difference between rivers and streams compared to lakes is water movement. You can easily tell if a body of water is a river because its moving in a general direction while a lake looks still.

Another difference would be the appearance. Lakes are usually enclosed by land They are also not connected to the seas or oceans, because they are inland. Conversely, rivers are bodies of water with land masses, or long stretches of land bordering their sides.

Label the parts of a lake and the properties of each part.

Littoral Zone - the shallow area of soil and water near the shore where algae and emergent plants such as cattails grow. Most photosynthesis occurs at this zone.

Limnetic Zone - In the open water. Rooted plants can no longer survive here and floating algae called phytoplankton are the only photosynthetic organisms. The limnetic zone extends as deep as sunlight can penetrate.

Profundal Zone - The profundal zone is the zone below the limnetic zone in very deep lakes. Due to the profundal zone not having any sunlight, producers cannot survive there, so nutrients are not easily recycled into the food web. Bacteria decompose the detrius that reaches the profundal zone, but they consume oxygen in the process.

Benthic Zone - This is the muddy bottom of a lake or pond beneath the limnetic and profundal zones.

Identify the different types of wetlands and the vital roles wetlands play in the environment.

There are a variety of different places that can be classified as a wetland.

Coastal wetlands, shallow lakes and ponds, bogs, marshes, swamps, and estuaries are all different types of wetlands.

Freshwater wetlands are among the most productive biomes on the planet, and they provide several critical ecosystem services. For example, wetlands can take in large amounts of rain water and release it slowly into the groundwater or into nearby streams, thus reducing the severity of floods and droughts. Wetlands also filter pollutants from water, recharging the ground-water with clean water.

Identify the unique properties of salt marshes and their importance to the greater environment.

Salt marshes are found along the coast in the temperate climates and they are one of the most productive biomes in the world.

Many salt marshes are found in estuaries, which are areas along the coast where the fresh water of rivers mixes with salt water from the ocean. Because rivers carry large amounts of nutrient-rich organic material, estuaries are extremely productive places for plants and algae, and abundant plant life helps filter contaminants out of the water.

Salt marshes are very important to the greater environment because they provide an important place for spawning fish and shellfish; two-thirds of marine life and shellfish spend time in estuaries.

Explain the importance of mangroves to coastlines.

Mangrove swamps occur along tropical and subtropical coasts, and like freshwater swamps, contain trees whose roots are submerged in water. They are important to coastlines because they provide a sheltered habitat for fish and shellfish.

Identify the types of organisms that live in an intertidal zone and explain why those organisms must have unique adaptations.

An intertidal zone is the narrow band of coastline that exists between the levels of high tide and low tide.

Environmental conditions are fairly stable during high tide for the intertidal zone. However, during low tide, organisms can be exposed to hard conditions like high temperatures, direct sunlight, and desiccation. Due to these conditions, species like crabs, algae, mussels, and sea stars must have unique adaptations to survive.

Explain the importance of coral reefs to humans.

Coral reefs provide a variety of services to humans. They protect coastlines from the damaging effects of wave action and tropical storms, they assist in carbon and nitrogen fixing, and they also help with nutrient recycling.

The fishing industry also depends on coral reefs because many fish spawn there and spend time before heading to the open sea.

Describe the organisms that makeup coral and also the diversity of other organisms in the reef.

Coral Reefs, which are found in warm, shallow waters beyond the shoreline, represent Earth's most diverse marine biome.

Corals are tiny animals that secrete a layer of limestone to form an external skeleton which eventually die. Its the skeleton of the corals left behind that actually for the coral reefs.

A tremendous diversity of other organisms, including fish and invertebrates, use the structure of the reef as both a refuge in which to live and find a place to find food.

At The Great Barrier Reef there are more than 400 species of coral, 1500 species of tropical fish, and 200 species of birds.

The Great Barrier Reef

Explain what coral bleaching is, what causes it, and what its effects would be if it occurs.

Coral bleaching is a phenomenon in which the algae inside the corals die. Because of the lack of algae, the coral dies as well and turns white.

Scientists believe that coral bleaching is occurring from a mixture of diseases and environmental changes including lower ocean pH and abnormally high water temperatures.

Coral bleaching is a serious problem for the reason that without the corals, the entire coral reef biome is endangered.

Label the zones of the open ocean and list the properties of each zone.

Photic Zone - upper layer of ocean water that recieves enough sunlight to allow photosynthesis. Here, algae are major producers. They form the base of a food web that includes tiny zoo-plankton, fish, and whales.

Aphotic Zone - Deeper layer of water that lacks sufficient sunlight for photosynthesis. Due to the lack of photosynthesis there are no photosynthetic producers. Here, instead of photosynthesis, they under Chemosynthesis, a process used by some bacteria in the ocean to generate energy with methane and hydrogen sulfide.


Friedland, Andrew, and Rick Relyea. "Chapter 4." Environmental Science for AP. 2nd ed. W.H. Freeman, 2015. 103-140. Print.

Queensland Museum: http://www.qm.qld.gov.au/microsites/biodiscovery/05human-impact/importance-of-coral-reefs.html

WWF: http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/about_freshwater/intro/types/

EO Earth: www.eoearth.org/view/article/155233/

Difference Between: http://www.differencebetween.net/science/nature/difference-between-river-and-lake/#ixzz4V1Ix4KT2


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