Atmospheric Chemistry Flashcards, test questions and answers
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What is Atmospheric Chemistry?
Atmospheric chemistry is a branch of chemistry that studies the chemical composition and processes of the atmosphere. It is an interdisciplinary science which combines aspects of physical chemistry, meteorology, geochemistry, and biology to understand how atmospheric gases interact with one another. Atmospheric chemistry focuses on how these gases react with sunlight, other elements in the atmosphere, and their respective sources on Earth’s surface. It also investigates the influence of human activities on air quality and climate change. The atmosphere consists primarily of nitrogen (78%) and oxygen (21%), while other components including water vapor make up the remaining 1%. These two primary components are mostly inert but can react with each other under certain conditions to form pollutants like ozone (O3) or nitrous oxides (NOx). Other trace gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ammonia (NH3) and halocarbons also play an important role in atmospheric chemistry. These gases can be natural or anthropogenic depending on their source. Solar radiation is an essential factor for atmospheric reactions because it provides energy for chemical bonds to break apart or form new compounds. Additionally, ultraviolet radiation from the sun can cause photochemical smog when combined with certain pollutants like volatile organic compounds from automobile exhausts or industrial activity. This type of smog occurs mainly in urban areas due to high levels of air pollution caused by human activities that release large amounts of these emissions into the atmosphere every day. Atmospheric chemistry has direct implications for public health since some pollutants like ozone or particulate matter can become hazardous when concentrations reach a certain level in outdoor air environments such as cities or industrial zones where people are exposed directly to them every day. The study of atmospheric chemistry helps scientists understand how these pollutants interact within our environment so that measures can be taken to reduce their concentrations and protect public health accordingly.