6.1 The Atmosphere as a System - Review

This activity is a review of the concepts around thinking about the atmosphere as a system. It provides an opportunity to use systems thinking.

Student Task

Read the introduction to the atmosphere  6.1 The Atmosphere as a System and check your understanding with these questions. 

  1. Draw a system diagram representing the earth's atmosphere. Show inputs, outputs and what is present inside the system (stores). Use a different colour to represent flows which are largely effected by human activity.
  1. List the layers of the atmosphere from nearest the Earth's surface outwards.






  1. Identify the gases present in the atmosphere.

Nitrogen gas (N2) 78%

Oxygen (02) 21%

Water vapour (H2O)

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) 400 parts per million and rising

  1. In which layer of the atmosphere do you find "bad ozone" and which layer do you find "good ozone"?

bad ozone in the troposphere

good ozone in the stratosphere

  1. Why is the greenhouse effect important?

The greenhouse effect is a natural phenomenon;

the earth's atmosphere re-radiates some energy back to the earth's surface;

this warms the atmosphere nearest the surface;

this re-radiated energy is in the form of long wave radiation;

this maintains a habitable temperature for life;

  1. Outline a negative feedback loop involving climate and albedo.

rising global temperatures → increased evaporation → increased snowfall at poles → increased albedo → leads to decreasing global temperatures;

  1. Outline a positive feedback loop involving climate and albedo.

rising global temperatures → leads to increased forest fires → leads to decreased albedo → leads to further rise in global temperatuers;

rising global temperatures → melting arctic ice cap → leads to decreased albedo → leads to rising global temperatures;

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