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For more information, please see full course syllabus of AP Environmental Science
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Lecture Comments (2)

1 answer

Last reply by: Bryan Cardella
Wed Sep 9, 2015 12:35 PM

Post by Peter Ke on September 8, 2015

Why is the earth's atmosphere is mostly made up of nitrogen and not oxygen because plants and living things uses oxygen?

I remember my biology teacher say that if earth's atmosphere have more oxygen than nitrogen then some sort of fire will be created. Is she correct?

Earth Cycles

  • Earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old; the Universe is 13.9 billion years old. Our planet has liquid water, plate tectonics, and life. Its atmosphere is made mostly of nitrogen and oxygen
  • Thermodynamic equilibrium is important to consider regarding Earth and the presence of life. Our planet acts as a “pump” to keep us away from thermodynamic equilibrium (the lowest energy state)
  • The rise of oxygen early on in Earth’s history is thanks to photosynthesis in single-celled organisms almost 2 billion years ago (evidence found in pyrite and banded-iron formations
  • Life originated approximately 3.4 billion years ago. Fermentation, prokaryotes, and eukaryotes are important to consider with this information
  • Macronutrients (carbohydrates, ) are substances required in larger quantities, and micronutrients ( ) are substances required in small quantities. Limiting factors can affect the success of a life form in relation to these nutrients
  • Geologic cycles involve concepts such as flow, flux, residence time, source, and sink
  • Tectonic cycle involves the creation/destruction of Earth’s solid outer layer (lithosphere); 3 types of plate boundaries are divergent, convergent, and transform fault
  • Hydrologic cycle involves the transfer of water via evaporation, precipitation, transpiration, runoff, drainage, etc.
  • Rock cycle involves processes that produce rocks and soils. Rocks are classified as igneous, metamorphic, or sedimentary
  • Biogeochemical cycles trace the movement of chemicals through the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere
  • Carbon cycle, Nitrogen cycle, and Phosphorus cycle trace the movement of elements necessary for life through the various parts of the plant (biotic and abiotic)

Earth Cycles

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Earth History 0:04
    • About 4.5 Billion Years Old
    • Only Plant in Our Solar System with Liquid Water, Plate Tectonics, and Life
    • Atmosphere
  • Thermodynamic Equilibrium 2:17
    • Characteristics of a Living Planet
    • Thermodynamic Equilibrium
    • Planet Acts as a Pump to Keep the Atmosphere, Rocks, and Oceans from this Equilibrium
  • The Rise of Oxygen 4:29
    • Earth Had a Lot Less Oxygen Prior to 2.3 Billion Years Ago
    • Evidence is in Pyrite
    • Photosynthesis
  • Cells: Then and Now 7:55
    • Fermentation
    • Prokaryotes
    • Eukaryotes
  • Molecules of Life 11:19
    • Macronutrients
    • Micronutrients
    • Limiting Factors
  • Geologic Cycles 13:42
    • Includes These Cycles
    • About the Cycling of Molecules Throughout the Earth
  • Movement Through a Cycle 14:23
    • Flow
    • Flux
    • Residence Time
    • Source
    • Sink
    • Example
  • Tectonic Cycle 15:36
    • The Lithosphere
    • Lithosphere is Composed of Plates
    • Plate Tectonics
    • Types of Plate Boundaries
  • Hydrologic Cycle 19:02
    • Transfer of Water
    • Key Terms
    • Driven by Solar Energy
    • 97% in Oceans
    • Drainage Basins
  • Rock Cycle 21:45
    • Numerous Processes That Produce Rocks and Soils
    • Rocks are Classified: Igneous, Metamorphic, Sedimentary
  • Intro to Biogeochemical Cycles 25:05
    • Includes the Complete Path That a Chemical takes on Earth
    • General Facts
  • Carbon Cycle 26:29
    • Basic Building Block of Life
    • Carbon Cycles Through the Biota
    • Pathways and Reservoirs
    • Carbon-Silicate Cycle
  • Nitrogen Cycle 33:22
    • Nitrogen is Converted to an Inorganic Compound
    • Nitrogen Fixation
    • Denitrification
    • Symbioses
    • Industrial Fertilizer
    • Pollution
  • Phosphorus Cycle 36:28
    • One of the 'Big Six' Required for Life
    • Slow Rate of Transfer
    • Tale of Guano
    • Bone Valley
    • Rising Phosphorus Prices
    • Potential Solutions