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The sun undergoes a cycle of increased and decreased activity over a period of approximately 11 years.

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Introduction

TMA 02 S269 Question One (a) The sun undergoes a cycle of increased and decreased activity over a period of approximately 11 years. The difference of incident radiation is quite small, in 1979 at the peak of activity the solar flux was only 0.2% higher than that of the minimum solar flux during that cycle in 1983. Increases in activity are monitored by measuring the percentage of the sun's surface covered by sun spots. Although sunspots are relatively cold areas on the sun's surface they are accompanied by faculae which are areas of intense activity. These can be visualised using X-ray photography, and the total solar flux reaching the Earth is measured using a satellite borne radiometer. (b) The Earth's orbit around the sun is not circular and neither is it regular. Over a period of 110,000 years the orbit migrates from being almost circular to a greater degree of eccentricity to being almost circular again. This is the only factor which effects the total amount of the sun's radiation that reaches the Earth. The change in the shape of the Earth's orbit is caused by fluctuations in the effect of the sun's gravitational pull in combination with that of other planets, especially Jupiter and Saturn. The changing shape of the orbit means that the sun and the Earth are at different distances from each other at different times during the orbits and at different orbital shapes, affecting the total solar radiation incident on the Earth. (c) The Earth is more or less spherical, this means that the greatest radiation is incident in the area directly facing the sun at anyone time and this has a direct effect on the temperature gradient and isotherms across the planet. Isotherms do not follow a direct latitudinal correlation because the Earth itself is tilted on its axis. The current angle of tilt is 23.4 degrees, which means that at only two times during the year is the sun's highest level of radiation over the equator, or a latitude of zero degrees. ...read more.

Middle

of lava erupted can be calculated to 3x1011 m3 x 2650 = 7.95x1014 kg of lava From the mass of the lava flow it is possible to calculate the total amount of CO2 and of Sulphur aerosols emitted from the eruptions annually 7.95x1014 x 0.002 = 3.18x1010 kg CO2 yr-1 (i) 50 7.95x1014 x 0.0013 = 2.067x1010kg S yr-1 (ii) 50 Because of the different masses of carbon dioxide and of sulphur due to their molecular and atomic masses the actual mass of their emissions does not give an entirely accurate measure of the difference in the amounts of the products emitted. By transferring the masses of the gases emitted into their amount in Moles it is easier to see how much more carbon dioxide is emitted than sulphur, it also makes it possible to use simple calculations using molecular masses to work out the mass of sulphur dioxide and of sulphuric acid aerosols produced by the emitted sulphur atoms. 3.18x1010 kg = 7.23x1011 Mol of CO2 0.044 2.067x1010 kg = 6.64x1011 Mol of SO2 0.032 There are almost 10% more carbon dioxide molecules emitted each year compared to sulphur dioxide, however, the sulphur emissions and their resulting aerosols are likely to have a greater climatic and environmental effect compared to the carbon dioxide because of the reaction between sulphur dioxide and water in order to form sulphuric acid aerosols (SO2 + 2H2O --> H2SO4) The resulting hydrosulphuric acid aerosols are involved in the nucleation of rain, and would result in the formation of acid rain over a period of at least fifty years. Making the broad assumption that all sulphur dioxide molecules emitted from the eruption are converted into hydrosulphuric acid then the mass of this would be 6.64x1011 M x [(1x2) + (32) + (16x4)] = 6.5072x1013g yr-1 or 6.5072x1010 kg H2SO4 yr-1 This over the total length of time of the eruption is a massive 3.254x1012 kg H2SO4 The annual forcing of the Iceland eruption would be -9.3Wm2 and in total over the fifty years the accumulative effect would be a forcing factor of 465.3Wm2 . ...read more.

Conclusion

However, there would still be a greater difference, because, reducing the amount of water and therefore the flux of the river systems, it is effectively increasing the percentage of the total flux which comes from hydrothermal sources. The formation of the mountains themselves would actually affect the climate of that area and due to the uprising of wind currents over the peaks, it is likely that there would be an increased rainfall across the southward side of the Himalayans into the Ganges and Bramaputra rivers. (d) The 87/86 strontium ratio is heavier in post Himalayan sea water due to the increase in continental rock available for erosion, and the mountains being built from old continental rocks. A greater amount of sediment would be carried into the oceans and this sediment would have a higher 87/86 ratio because the rubidium in the Himalayan rocks has had time to undergo radioactive decay. (e) From calculations the 87/86 strontium ratio for pre Himalayan sea water due to the increase in the Amazon flux is 0.7082, this is a difference of only 0.0006 compared to the figure of 0.7088, and only a difference of 0.00014 compared to the previously calculated figure of pre-Himalayan sea water as shown in question (a) at 0.70834. (f) The change in the flux of the Amazon River does not have a major effect on the overall change in the river. The increase in water flow is only 5.5x107kg in a total incoming flux of 290x107. This is an increase of only 1.8% of the total flux. The flux of the Amazon river has a ratio of 0.7109 compared to the total flux of 0.7119, so the actual impact of this change is small. The Amazon River picks up sediments from the Andes Mountain range, where the bared rock is of a younger age than the bared rock in the Himalayans, this means that the strontium ratio in the Amazon flux is reduced compared to that of the Ganges and Bramaputra, so the impact of the increase is small. Karen Barton TMA02S269 1 ...read more.

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