Earth-Sun Relationship
The Sun & its Energy
Earth & its Atmosphere
Solar Radiation in the Atmosphere
Atmospheric Environmental Concerns
Ozone Depletion
Global Climate Change
Regional Concerns
Internet Links
Other Resources
Atmospheric System PDF
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This section examines the atmosphere as a system, and several atmospheric phenomena that have become critical in the understanding and guardianship of our environment. The current state of the atmosphere is the result of a multitude of facts. The energy from the sun produces the movements or currents in the atmosphere. This energy, the Earth's movement relative to the sun, and the components of the atmosphere and of the Earth's surface maintain the long-term climate, the short-term weather, and the temperature conditions. These provide conditions fit for the forms of life found on Earth. The condition of the physical world affects and is affected by the life present. The entire system is therefore called the biogeochemical system. In the last century especially, this system--which evolved over billions of years--has been subject to rapid changes due to industrial activities increasing at unprecedented rates.


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This unit discusses some of the basic science and details of the interactions involving the atmosphere. We begin by examining the nature of the sun's energy, and the actions and reactions it produces in the atmosphere. We then discuss how industrial activity has perturbed atmospheric conditions, and what policy actions are being taken to reduce our impact. Due the complexity of the atmospheric system, there are still large amounts of scientific uncertainty in predicting changes precisely, but we do know enough to describe and project qualitative features of the system that lead to an understanding of the impacts of large scale human activity.




  ©Copyright 2003 Carnegie Mellon University
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number 9653194. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.