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Earth and Environmental Notes - table

Module 5: Developing of the Biosphere
Investigate evidence for the origin of organic molecules on the earth including:
Urey and Miller experiment
o Demonstrated that complex organic molecules can form naturally under conditions such as those on earth
o This showed that under the right conditions, organic molecules can form spontaneously from inorganic ingredients, illustrating
one way from which life may have originated from
Communities around black
o Life began on the ocean floor near hydrothermal vents. These hydrothermal vents heated the water which may carry
sulphides that react with chemicals in the sea water to create ‘black smokers’
o Large amounts of methane and ammonia produce amino acids, which react with the clay particles
o This is most likely where the earliest living cells evolved
o Exotic ecosystems based on chemosynthesis are thriving in deep oceans along tectonic plate boundaries, where volcanic vents
are common
Meteorites and panspermia
o The theory that amino acids come from elsewhere in the universe, brought via collisions on earth from comets and meteors,
then evolved on earth
o Main evidence is that organic chemicals have been detected in comets and interstellar dust clouds
Investigate the evidence for the development of photosynthetic life, including:
o Cyanobacteria: photosynthetic bacteria that creates oxygen as a by-product. It grows in high-saline conditions, shallow, warm water. It is one of the oldest known
fossils and is linked to carbon dating.
o Stromatolites: dome shaped structures built overtime from cyanobacteria and sediments
Evaluate the evidence for the origin of multicellular life and resulting changes to ecosystems for example:
o Ediacaran: these organisms lived in a shallow marine environment. All these early creatures lack the rigid, supporting skeletons and protective shells
o Cambrian: from the Cambrian explosion, where suddenly the fossil record is dominated by animals with hard parts
• Preserved animal burrows mark the Cambrian
o These trace fossils allow radiometric dating to occur (also known as absolute dating)
Investigate the conquest of land by both plants and animals
o Animals lived in the sea due to the U.V. rays
o The ozone layer formed when there was enough oxygen being produced by photosynthesis
o Footprints, trace fossils show animals may have grown legs. Arthropods (centipede-like creatures) were the first evidence of animals on land
Module 5: Changes in the Geosphere, Atmosphere and Hydrosphere
Analyse the changes in the geosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere that resulted in the development and evolution of the biosphere, for example:
o Effect of photosynthesising cyanobacteria on each of the spheres
o Lack of oxygen allowed iron to stay is soluble form in the water and when oxygen was created (cyanobacteria photosynthesising); it reacted
with the soluble iron and precipitated, forming thin layers on the ocean floor. Very little of this oxygen would have entered the atmosphere due
to amount of dissolved iron in the ocean. Formation of BIFs stopped around 1.7 b.y.a., which suggests all sediment may have been removed.
Once removed, oxygen could enter the atmosphere.
o Early atmosphere contained substantial amounts of carbon dioxide, which dissolved and reacted with water, this caused ‘carbon sinks’, where
carbon is ‘locked up’ in oceans, decreasing the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere. Some carbon sinks are animals (carbon locked in cells,
tissue, fats and proteins, which, when the animals die and decay, will be released back into the atmosphere), fossil fuels (coal and petroleum
deposits, which, when burnt, release carbon back into the atmosphere), skeletons and shells (often formed from calcium carbonate extracted
from the ocean. These do not decompose easily, adding to the limestone deposits in the ocean) and the oceans (which contain more carbon
than present in the atmosphere)
o Ozone layer could have been formed 500 m.y.a. from left-over oxygen from the cyanobacteria, which blocked U.V. rays which made it possible
for animals to inhabit the land
o Oxygen entering the atmosphere caused the temperature of the globe to drop, causing global cooling, leading to glaciation (scientists believe
the earth has frozen over several times since the introduction of oxygen into the atmosphere)
Role of oxygen in the production of banded iron formations
• Oxygen oxides the dissolved iron from the weathering of Proterozoic rocks. This oxidised iron is insoluble and forms a sediment, which creates another layer in the
• However, as the oxygen increased and the dissolved iron increased, cyanobacteria died off, due to the toxic environment of too much oxygen. This dying resulted
in less oxygen, thus less iron-rich layers in the lithosphere
Module 5: Plate Tectonic Supercycle
Outline the effect of the plate tectonic supercycle on large scale phenomena, including:
o If there is one single continent, the climate is colder and drier with low sea levels, along with minimal volcanic activity and low carbon dioxide
levels. Reduced greenhouse effect = reduced average temperatures = less evaporation = lower rainfall and permanent ice caps which lower sea
level, with desert environments (cold and warm) being the most common
o Many little continents = more rifting and subduction = more volcanic activity = increased carbon levels. The greenhouse effect increases global
temperatures = more rainfall and more evaporation, less ice caps which means higher sea level. Desert ecosystems are less common, rainforests
more common, coral reefs thriving due to higher sea level
o One continent: less diversity and evolutionary divergence in animal species due to less isolation and the need to adapt
o Multiple continents: split continents lead to more diversity as the species needs to adapt to survive to their new environment and isolated
habitats, increased evolution and higher rates of biological diversity
Module 5: Fossil Formation and Stratigraphy
Investigate processes of fossil formation by examining a variety of methods in rock, including:
Mould formations
o Occur when the organism has been buried in sediment. After some time, the sediment becomes compressed around the organism,
forming an internal or external mould
Cast formations
o Start as moulds, which then are filled with new sediments or groundwater that percolates and later crystallises minerals inside. They are
normally 3D in appearance.
Trace fossils
o Excellent environment indicators due to the behaviour of animals often being influenced by environmental factors
o They provide important clues to the original conditions of ancient environments. These include salinity and oxygen levels, food and energy
supplies, as well as organismal interactions
o Tracks (footprints): These can indicate animal activity formed on land, in swamps or beach environments. The distance between each
footprint is often used to find the speed of the animal as well as leg length. The depth of the print can give an estimate of the mass of the
o Trails (feeding trails): Includes the burrow of sediment feeders. These burrows may be multi branched or dendritic and may consist of large
vertical and horizontal branching tubes
o Burrows: soft bodied organisms often burrow in sediment, may be single burrows and can be u-shaped (can indicate way up) or 3D
Discuss the significance of index fossils in generating a geological time scale
o Index fossils are organisms that existed for short periods of geological time
o They are distinctive and easy to tell from other rocks
o They give us relative dates that gauge how old other rocks are
Extrapolate how the principles of uniformitarianism and superposition as well as fossils and absolute dating can be used to date events of geological significance, for
The evolution of the Cambrian fauna
Mass extinction events
o Large number of species extinct over
a large global area. Often caused by
natural catastrophes or dramatic
environmental change
o “Cambrian Explosion”: when animals started to appear on land
o Previously only soft-bodied, aquatic creatures
o Produced the first representatives of today’s phyla
• Cretaceous: mass extinction with large amounts of volcanic materials. Estimated 60-70% of all marine species
and nearly 15% of all land species went extinct. This is the dinosaur extinction. Clay boundaries – use
radiometric dating
• Permian: also called the great dying. Around 96% of marine species and 70% of terrestrial species went extinct.
Permian strata has many fossils. Eruptions and changes to climate evident.
• Cambrian: this extinction event eliminated many brachiopods and conodonts and severely reduced trilobite
species, however fossils of planktonic graptolites, conodonts and trilobite species appeared
• Uniformitarianism: the theory that changes in the earth’s crust during geological history have resulted from the action of continuous and uniform processes and
that all the natural processes and scientific laws we observe here and now are the same throughout time and throughout the universe
• Superposition: older layers of the earth are always lower down (see picture, but don’t write that)
Module 6: Geological Natural Disasters
Using data, predict the zones along which earthquakes and both effusive and explosive volcanic eruptions are likely to occur and relate these to plate boundaries
o Oceanic – continental convergence: oceanic crust subducted under continental crust. The magma at this boundary is rich in silica, which makes it more viscous. This
makes eruptions near the boundaries explosive, due to the high amount of pressure being built up (same as oceanic – oceanic)
o Divergent boundaries: two plates separate, forming new crust between them. The magma at this boundary is low in silica, meaning it flows easily and does not allow
pressure to build up. This makes the eruption effusive.
Using secondary sources, investigate and model the changing depth of the focus of earthquakes at:
o Convergent: boundaries are prone to shallow/deep focus earthquakes
• Deep: (up to 700km) arise from the friction of the descending plate with the overriding plate and mantle
• Shallow: result of either the movement along fault lines within the folded mountains or the displacement of rocks when magma rises and falls
o Divergent: boundaries with shallow focus earthquakes only
Using secondary sources, investigate and explain the hazards associated with earthquakes, including:
o Ground motion
• The earth shake as the seismic waves “energy” (which has been stored up) is released
• Large enough waves can sometimes damage buildings and infrastructure, cliffs and sloping ground
• Ground shaking will often vary due to:
o Location, orientation of the fault rupture
o Topography (the way the ground is shaped)
o Bedrock type
o Tsunami
• Series of seismic waves that cause the displacement of water (usually a large volume)
Using secondary sources, investigate and explain the hazards associated with volcanoes, for example:
Ash eruptions and lava flows:
Lahars and poisonous gas emissions
o Ash eruptions are prominent features of explosive volcanoes. It does not reflect on the aircraft radar, making it
a hazard for aircraft flying at night. It can cause the collapse of buildings due to the build-up of ash on rooftops,
and if mixed with rain it can increase the weight. It can contaminate water supplies and smother crops and
o Pyroclastic flows carry rock particles and often spew them in the air, causing rocks and pieces of debris to
tumble down and often cause damage. This also includes hot gases in the flow
o Lahars are a type of flooding: when fast flowing water mixes with ash from the explosion (kind of like wet
cement). It erodes gullies and grows as it moves along, taking anything and everything with it and gaining speed
(up to 60km/h or more)
o Sulphur dioxide is released into the air during an eruption. These gases can block out the sun, and even carry to
other parts of the world if it gets high enough (troposphere level). These gases can also cause temperature to
drop (often globally)
Account for the types of magma in each of the above types of volcanoes, and analyse how this affects the explosivity of their eruptions
o Convergent: magma rich in silica, more viscous, therefore more explosive
o Divergent: magma low in silica, flows easily, therefore effusive
o Effusive: generally at hotspots, mantle comes directly to surface, hot lava, low viscosity, very mafic, flows easily, forms shield and flood basalt volcanoes
o Explosive: found at subduction zones, low temperature magma, high viscosity, felsic, hard to predict eruptions, forms composite volcanoes and very destructive
Investigate the point at which a geological hazard becomes a disaster
o Hazard: a threat (natural or human) that has the POTENTIAL to cause loss of life, injury, socio-economic disruption or environmental degradation
o Disaster: a major hazard, that causes widespread disruption with significant demographic, economic and environmental loss (the affected community needs outside
Module 6: Impact of Natural Disasters on the Biosphere
Using data from secondary sources, compare the eruptions that occur at explosive and effusive volcanoes in terms of the impact on the biosphere and atmosphere
Mt Pinatubo – explosive
o Biosphere: not affected much, however 800 people died from ash on roofs
causing them to collapse
o Atmosphere: nearly 20 million tonnes of sulphur dioxide spread across the
globe, dropping temperatures by 0.5ºC
Mt Kilauea – effusive
o Biosphere: villages were lost to the lava flow in 1986 and a few roads were
cut off
o Atmosphere: not much, due to being effusive, sulphur dioxide emissions are
common, however they are gradual
Analyse the effects of a major volcanic eruption on the atmosphere in terms of changing the climate (both warming and cooling)
o Warming:
• Very little record of any warmer temperatures after explosions
o Cooling:
• Often, eruptions will cause a decrease in temperature by up to 1ºC, due to the amount of sulphur expelled into the atmosphere, reflecting the rays from the sun
In a case study, investigate one eruption that has had a significant effect on the biosphere and atmosphere and assess its impact, including but not limited to:
o Mt Pinatubo:
• Biosphere:
o 800 people dying to collapsing roofs from heavy ash that fell from the volcano
• Atmosphere:
o 20 million tonnes of sulphur dioxide spread across the globe, dropping temperatures by up 0.5ºC
Evaluate the causes and physical impact of climatic phenomena on a local
ecosystem, including:
East coast
o Form of solid precipitation
o Balls or irregular lumps of ice are called hail stones
o Impacts:
• Injury to wild life
• Destroying trees and vegetation
o Causes:
• Form within unstable air masses
• Temperature has to be right to keep the developing hailstones forming
o Intense low pressure systems that occur off the east coast of Australia
o Impacts:
• Can cause coastal erosion and flooding
• Important for water security bringing the heavy soaking rainfall that fills
dams along the coast and the tablelands as well as replenishes rivers,
creeks and wetlands
o Causes:
• Form in a variety of weather situations
• Warm eddies also contribute to their development
o A natural disaster of below average precipitation
o Results in prolonged shortages in the water supply, whether atmospheric,
surface water or ground water
o Impacts:
• Everything is affected and some abiotic and biotic factors recover, some
never do:
o droughts lower the quality of soils, as there is less organic activity,
more wind erosion and soil insects and organisms perish
o water bodies dry out, water animals die, food chains and
ecosystems are affected
o desertification
o animals migrate long distances and end up in habitats, making them
o a natural event or occurrence where an area is covered with water
o some can occur suddenly and recede quickly or takes months to build and
• impacts:
Investigate how human activities can contribute to the
frequency and magnitude of some natural disasters, including:
o Increased water usage from industrialisation, significant
growth in population, agriculture and industry
o Human water use has exceeded available renewable water
supply in many part of the world
o Development and growth also increased greenhouse
emissions which alter precipitation patterns
o deforestation
• lack of vegetation encourages water to flow off the
o poor land use
o habitats destroyed
o chemicals and hazardous substances contaminate water
o insects are introduced (potentially with diseases) upsetting natural
o Physical part of combustion
o Needs heat, oxygen and fuel (wood, leaf litter etc)
o Impacts:
• Loss of plant and animal life
o Vegetation is destroyed, animals are killed due to lack of habitat,
high temperatures and suffocation from the smoke
• Reproduction:
o Fire generates regrowth and new life
▪ Some eucalypt species and plants need it to be able to
• slash and burn agriculture, over cultivation and
overgrazing eventually cause soil to become infertile
o urbanisation
• leads to replacement of permeable soil with pitch and
concrete, which water cannot penetrate
o improper waste disposal
• garbage is not properly disposed of and enters into
drainage systems and clogs them, which leads to a
build-up of water
• can also obstruct natural flow of rivers
o quarrying
• clearing of land results in more runoff
o Arson (deliberately lit)
o Discarding of cigarettes improperly
o Not adhering to fire bans or fire safety
o Deforestation
o Changes to the flow of groundwater
o Destruction of vegetation by caused landslides
o Droughts, fire and logging
Module 6: Prediction and Prevention of Natural Disasters
Evaluate the effectiveness of technologies in predicting natural disasters, for example:
o Volcanoes
Seismic data
Early-warning systems
Analysis of historical
o New technology along with the use of GPS to measure the change in shape of a volcano, as well as radar to measure movements of
o Judgement: effective. New technology is always evolving, meaning better detection. Also, learning opportunities may arise
o Helps with the prevention of loss of life, as small and increasing tremors and movements often result in a bigger earthquake
o Judgement: effective. Although there are multiple tremors that can possibly happen, scientists have figured the types out:
• Short period quakes: when ground moves along a fault. Related to fracturing of brittle rock, usually as the magma moves up
• Long period earthquakes: indicate increased gas pressure
• Harmonic tremors: occur when there is sustained movement of magma, usually below the surface.
o (mentioned above) The magma moving into the volcano usually causes swelling of the volcano, indicating a possible eruption
o Gas measurement is also an indicator, as an increase in gas usually indicates an increase in magma near the surface of a volcano.
o Judgement: effective, however could lead to false alarm.
o Along with gas emissions and harmonic tremors, ground movement data can be used to predict an earthquake. Tilt meters can be
used to measure the ground tilt (or rotation) of the land, especially near known fault lines. These meters can be used to measure the
uplift of a volcano or the fault slip
o Judgement: effective. The meters are put in places where the accuracy cannot be tampered with e.g. the swelling of ground after
o Look at the historical eruptions and charts from the earthquakes, and identify trends, biggest rest periods = bigger eruptions
o Judgement: not effective. Multiple volcanoes are overdue, such as Yellowstone, as well as past eruptions such as Mt Pinatubo and
Mt St Helens.
o Earthquakes:
Ground movement
Anomalous animal
o Many scientists have tried and failed to find a way to predict earthquakes. Similar to volcano measurement systems, ground
movement is significant to detecting large earthquakes, however these detectable movements are often detected too late
o Only one successful attempt has been recorded, however it has been said that animals (in the wild) may act strange before an
earthquake, however nothing has been recorded.
o Judgement: ineffective. Only once has it been proved correct, therefore unreliable. Also, animals just may act strange
Strain meters
o Highly sensitive instruments, which like the tilt meters, identify movement in the ground, along with noise.
o Judgement: effective. Meters are placed in specific spots, which limit the exposure to noises, and movement that could disrupt the
o East coast lows:
Pressure systems
o Drops in temperatures can often help with minimising the damage of east coast lows, however this temperature drop could just be
intense cold weather coming, or a minor storm
o Judgement: somewhat effective. Whilst it can help with the detection of severe weather storms, it may be misleading
o Show low and high-pressure systems from the air pressure measured by data collection. These maps are often helpful when predicting
the path of pressure systems.
o Judgement: effective. The use of data and machines to predict these phenomena have proved useful in the prediction of severe weather
Module 7: Natural processes of variations in climate
Using secondary sources, assess the different causes of natural climate variation and the timescales in which changes occur, including:
o The plate tectonic supercycle
• This continuous cycle (over 300 million years) is the result of the tectonic plates moving due to the convection cycles in the earth’s crust.
• Either:
o Icehouse Climate: cold climate, continental glaciations and cold inland deserts
o Greenhouse climate: warm climate
• However, these changes take millions of years
o Massive volcanic eruptions
Deccan traps
o 65 m.y.a. mantle plume burned its way through the earth’s crust, which
flooded Western India with the Deccan Traps flood basalts
o The rapid eruptions would have led to increased CO2 on the surface
o The increase in eruptions would have caused the sunlight to be blocked
out, contributing to climatic change as the sun is blocked out
Siberian traps
o Volcanoes cover approximately 2,000,000 km2 in Siberia (greater area than
o Eruptions lasted at full intensity for about a million years
o Emit ash and gases, which has the potential to alter climate
o Emissions can block out sunlight can cause rapid cooling
o Large scale glaciation can occur, significantly dropping sea levels
o Changes in
The earth’s orbit around the sun
o As the earth rotates around the sun, the amount of sunlight to the land
o As Gondwana drifted over the South Pole, large areas of ice reflected the
sun in larger amounts than usual, which resulted in global cooling
Ocean currents and Ocean circulation
o Combination of solar input, orbital spin, temperature differences, salinity
differences, prevailing winds, position of the continents and underwater
o Any changes in these variables have the potential to alter currents,
therefore the climate, and the changes in continent positions is also
thought to have an effect on ocean currents.
Module 7: Evidence for Climate Variation
Describe and discuss ancient evidence of variations in global temperature, including but not limited to:
Pollen grains in
sedimentary rocks +
Fossils and microfossils
Changes in rock types
Changing isotope ratios in
rocks and deep sea
o Pollen distributed by winds – resist decomposition
o Causes pollen sediments found in large quantities at bottom of lakes/bogs
• Example: Minnesota bog: last 11,000 yrs. – spruce tree dominates colder climates - warmer now -> younger pollens studied =
became warmer 10,500 yrs. Ago.
o Fossils abundant in sedimentary rocks - can’t give accurate temp. measurement used to give approx. climate condition.
• coral reef = warm condition
• coal deposit = moist tropical condition
• cactus = deserts
• Tillite – form from glacial deposits = cold climate
o O16 & O18 elements:
• O18 heaver – absorbed by hard tissues (shells, teeth) therefore sediments/fossils formed in oceans
• More O18 in sediments = cooler climate
• O16 lighter – evaporates during glacial periods (ice ages)
• O18 ↑ as O16 evaporates/lost on land in glaciers after falling as snow.
• Both warm = O16 melts into oceans: ↑ 016
o Deep organic seafloor measured = shows oxygen isotope + measurement of glacial/interglacial periods.
Identify and explain more recent evidence of climate variation, including but not limited to:
Ice cores containing gas bubbles and oxygen
o Isotopes:
• Atoms with the same number of protons but different numbers on neutrons
• Radiocarbon dating: determining the ages of old things – Carbon-14. Decays at a steady rate -> able to
determine ages of things living 2000-50,000 years ago e.g. dating Egyptian mummies
• Paleoclimate Proxy: paleoclimatology - study of past climates, proxies: ice cores, tree rings, fossilised pollen,
corals, sediments etc.
o Ice Cores: used to date things, just like tree rings, ice also has rings that help determine temperature, rain etc.
layer thickness = accumulation, impurities in layers gives information about atmospheric circulation + condition,
and land surface (known volcanic events), core records show carbon dioxide and methane levels are the highest
they have ever been. Different types of oxygen in the bubbles help identify major climate events
o Tree rings:
• Variation in the tree rings = variation in climate (cold or warm temperatures / dry or moist soil conditions,
etc. – even insect outbreaks and non-climatic factors, too)
• Slow growth = too dry/too cold/too hot
• Must be compared with other trees to be able to be dated properly
Aboriginal art sites showing now-extinct
species and environments
Human instrumental records
Isotope ratios shown in stalagmites,
stalactites and corals
• Dating the art
o Known climatic, paleo-environmental and archaeological events are used
o Depiction of extinct animals, the presence of used ochre pieces and presence of silica coatings (formed in
arid conditions) contribute as well
o X-ray art (animals with simple x-ray features) started during the Estuarine Period – northern running figures
o Pre-estuarine period: when the earth was much cooler and the sea level was lower. Kakadu covered in
open woodland, with the first evidence of people around 50,000 BP, first rock art is hand paintings and
objects, directly onto rocks
o Freshwater period: sediment choked mangroves, thus restricting saltwater, filtering through freshwater.
Paintings in this period depicts new animals brought by the freshwater
o Temp. records kept since 1800 – before: logs/diaries about ice breaking, glaciers ↑
• Viking explorer Eric: diary detailing experience (985 CE):
o Vikings spread out/colonised within 300-400 yrs.
o Failed/frozen crops + heavy sea ice
o Scientist assumption: cold climate.
o Stalagmites & stalactites:
• Stalagmite: rock formation rises from floor 🡪 due to accumulation from ceiling drippings.
• Stalactites: rock formation hangs from ceiling
• Caves: store records of climate patterns 🡪 trap oxygen w/ stalag. /stalac.
• As stalag. /stalac. Grow: build layers + trap oxygen
• Provide info on if season wet/dry – not amount of rainfall. (As rain trickles into cave - altered layers
depending on rain levels.)
o Fast growing = seasonal records
o Slow growing = spa over few yrs.
Module 7: Influence of Human Activities on Changes to Climate
Distinguish between the natural greenhouse effect and any anthropogenic greenhouse effects
o Natural and Greenhouse Effect: The greenhouse effect is a natural process that warms the Earth's surface. When the Sun's energy reaches the Earth's atmosphere, it is
absorbed by oceans and land. Some of it is reflected back to space and the rest is absorbed and re-radiated by greenhouse gases, warming the air.
o Anthropogenic Greenhouse Effect: variation in the climate that is caused by human activity (fossil fuels, deforestation). This causes unusual warming of the
atmosphere 🡪 called: enhanced greenhouse effect
Investigate any influence that human activities may have had on the environment since the Industrial Revolution, for example:
Increases in greenhouse gases
Ocean acidification
• Increase in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere = more carbonic
acid in the ocean
• This acid is more soluble in cold water, thus more in polar oceans
• This will decrease the pH of the ocean = bad
• As the carbon dioxide increases in the atmosphere, it is absorbed by
the ocean. It then combines and forms carbonic acid. Carbonic acid
raises the hydrogen ion concentration and reduces the carbonate
ion (organisms need carbonate ion to form shell material)
• Problems: organisms like plankton, coral, and mollusks will have
trouble building and maintaining internal skeletons or exoskeletons.
Reduce in plankton = depletion of available food for organisms
higher up the food chain. Warm water coral reefs will have a 50-60%
drop in calcification rates, therefore adverse effects on the structure
of the reef. Cold water coral reefs = vital habitat for commercially
important fish species
Investigate flow-on effects of changes to climate, including but not limited to:
Changing weather patterns
Changes in glaciers, sea ice and
ice sheets
Changing range of species due
to rising sea level
o Rainfall patterns:
• Southern Aus.: most rainfall – cooler months
• South-west: since 1970 – 17% ↓ late autumn/early winter
• South-east: since 1990s – 15% ↓ late autumn/early winter
o Surface Temperature:
• Warmed by 0.8*C since
• Daytime: warmed 0.8*C
• Overnight: warmed 1.1*C
• 2013 = Aus. warmth – 1.2*C above 1961-1990 avg. temp.
o Melting Glaciers:
• Since 1850: European Alps – lost 30-40% surface area
• New Zealand – lost 25% SA
• Since 1950s: Asia – retrieving
o Shrinking glaciers:
• socioeconomic impact in mountain regions
• provides extra runoff
• affects farming/water supplies
o Covered by glaciers = subject to erosion & ↓ stability
• Rise in sea level due to: THERMAL EXPANSION = the tendency of matter to change its shape, area, and volume in
response to a change in temperature.
o Higher sea levels have potential to flood terrestrial habitats.
o The loss of species replaced by salt tolerant species
o Ecosystems – rocky shores, beaches, dune systems – will be affected
o Change salinity levels of estuaries & coastal fresh waters
o Mangroves will move inland and up rivers
o ↑ depth affects light availability to sea grasses & algae
Module 7: Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies
Investigate possible human-induced causes for the enhanced greenhouse effect, including:
The burning of fossil fuels for
Land use and land cover change
o Increase in population = exhaustion of fossil fuel supplies
o Rising standard of living = high demand for fossil fuels
o Industrial revolution: coal was the only source of energy for everything. Still major source today, however oil is used more
for transport and natural gas is being used as well
o More than 1.3 billion motor vehicles worldwide, consuming more than 33000 million litres of fuel, producing nearly 100
million tonnes of greenhouse gases
o Ways to minimise the effects of fossil fuels: lean burn engines (less carbon monoxide), turbochargers, direct fuel
injection, variable valve timing, twin spark plugs and multiple injectors, regenerative breaking, variable injection timing,
cutting off cylinders, integrated starter and generator systems
o Electric cars are coming onto the market, which may limit the harmful gases to humans
o Cutting down trees = less things for carbon to be stored in
o More gardens = more space to store carbon – soil, plants, roots
o Forest clearing released 160 million tonnes of carbon dioxide since 2015
o To cut down on carbon emissions (all of these options save one ‘wedge’ – 1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide):
• increased efficiency and conservation (doubling current efficiency or halving travel length for cars, expanding public
transport and employing energy efficient practices in buildings)
• carbon storage and capture (carbon emissions captured and stored underground)
• nuclear energy (replacing coal power stations and doubling the nuclear power capacity introducing cleaner energy)
• wind power (increase in wind turbines = cleaner energy)
• solar power (generating solar energy = cleaner energy, as well as increased land usage, especially in deserts)
• biofuels (e.g. ethanol, made from fermentation of crops which absorb carbon as they grow)
• bio-storage (decreasing forestation and doubling planting of trees)
Investigate scientific evidence suggesting ways in which humans may assist to minimise any human contribution to the greenhouse effect in their daily lives
o Use public transport, or use transport less
o Turn off anything that is not in use (lights, TV etc.)
o Use less water
o Lower energy use from air cons and heaters
o Lower meat in diet
Evaluate scientific evidence for the usefulness of a range of mitigation and adaptation strategies, including but not limited to:
o Urban design
Mitigation strategies:
o Building or designing a house to maximise the
efficiency of the temperature
o to keep warm:
▪ insulation, window placement
o to keep cool:
▪ tree placement and size, awnings, blinds
and windows, ceiling fans
o “A well designed house will have little to no
need for artificial heating or cooling in most
locations in Australia”
Adaptation strategies:
o Elevated houses
• Putting houses on stilts
• Insurance will not cover bottom floor if in a
flood prone area
o Sea walls
• Protecting homes from wave action
o Stronger roof tiles
• More protection from hail damage
o Reduces need for heating and cooling,
therefore reducing cost and greenhouse gas
o Less noise pollution
o Saves money in the long term
o Clean up from floods is much easier
o Avoids damage, less to clean up afterward
o Difficult and/or expensive to make older
houses like this, especially with fitting more
o Housing estates don’t help with house placing
and orientation
o These types of houses are more expensive to
o Difficult to change already built homes
o Requires government policies and laws – new
zoning and building codes have to pass through
and be enforced
o Geo-engineering strategies
• Artificially interfering with earth’s climate
• Aim: moderating global warming
• Measures proposed:
o Carbon dioxide gas removal
o Controlling solar radiation
• Examples:
Blocking Sunlight
o Blocking sunlight (adaptation)
• Focuses on stopping solar heat from
entering the atmosphere
• Examples:
o Spraying seawater into the air to
form clouds to block sunlight
o Installing shields in space to
reflect sunlight
o Inject particles into the
stratosphere to block the sun
• MAY reduce rate of global warming
• Effects (mainly positive) would be seen much
quicker than methods that are currently being
• When changing climate patterns, humans have a
bad track record
• Energy amounts needed are massive
• International agreement would be needed
• Reduces incentive to cut current carbon emissions
and only focuses on future mitigation
Ocean fertilisation (adaptation)
o The introduction of nutrients to the upper
ocean with the aim to increase marine
food production, therefore removing
carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
o Techniques:
• Large areas of ocean have little
planktonic life. This is due to lack of
nutrients essential for functioning
such as iron
• Iron fertilisation is the intentional
introduction of iron into areas of the
ocean with little to no phytoplankton
activity to try to stimulate production.
An increase in phytoplankton would
enhance biological productivity and
therefore accelerate carbon dioxide
dissolving from the atmosphere
• MAY reduce rate of global warming
• Effects (mainly positive) would be seen much
quicker than methods that are currently being
• Can be monitored and regulated to stop it from
getting out of control
• Cheaper than sunlight blocking
• We already have the technology for it
• Phytoplankton can be used as a food source
• When meddling with oceans, humans have a poor
• Side effects may be undesirable
• Expensive and may only last a few years
• Dead zones can be created when mass amounts of
phytoplankton die out
Underground storage
o This method has been used before, however it
was used to pump oil out of a hole, by gaining
pressure from the gas
o Trial projects happening around the globe (E.g.
Victoria: Otway project (2008).
o Has four main stages:
1) Capturing the CO2
2) Compressing into liquid form
3) Transporting it to a suitable storage sight
a) How a site is chosen
i) 3D models of potential basins are made,
which geologists and reservoir engineers
then analyse to predict the potential
behaviour of the CO2 throughout the
process (outlined above)
4) Injecting the carbon into the permanent storage
Ocean storage
o Dissolved in the surface water of oceans,
carbon dioxide creates ocean acidification
o Lowering of the pH is damaging to corals, fish
and some phytoplankton
o Deep ocean carbon dioxide storage ideas are
being thought of, which would take care of the
issue for several centuries
• Carbon Dioxide is removed from power plant
and industrial emissions
• Already have an industry with experience
pumping oil underground
• Extraction and transport techniques have
already been developed
• Carbon dioxide is removed from power plant
• Extraction and transport techniques have
already been developed
• The pressures of carbon dioxide need to be
chosen carefully, as rock fracturing may occur
• Some people may view it as an excuse to
continue using fossil fuels, rather than shifting
to renewables
• The storage stage has still not been proven to
be achievable on the scale we require
• Fracking and other extraction techniques have
ruined previously suitable underground storage
• Only a temporary solution, as water cycles, the
water containing the carbon dioxide would
come to the surface, which would release the
carbon dioxide, making it worse for future
• Effects of the carbon saturation on the deep
ocean life are unknown
• Feasibility is yet to be tested
Chemical storage (adaptation)
o How it works:
o Power station produces gases, carbon is
o Whatever product is formed may be able to
be recycled
o Carbon that remains can be used to react
with calcium or magnesium silicates, which
are removed from rocks. This could create
calcium or magnesium carbonate
o The solid created could then be used for
construction material or stored
• Carbon dioxide is removed from power plant
• Very large resources of the required minerals are
readily available
• Building products are byproducts of this process,
which may be useful
• large amounts of energy are needed to prepare
the silicates
• Some methods of chemical storage produce
more carbon emissions than stored
• Chemical products have to be transported, which
makes it expensive
• Will not reduce current carbon levels
o Alternative energy source
• Some of these make use of non-renewable resources, such as synthetic oils and nuclear energy
▪ Others draw on renewable resources that depend on the Sun or heat from inside the Earth as the source of energy, like solar energy (heating and
electricity), hydroelectric power, wind power, wave power and fuels made from ethanol.
o Biomass – cogeneration (using fuels in two different ways)
o Any type of plant or animal material which can be converted into biogas (methane for example)
• Pig farms, for example, can convert manure into biogas.
• When garden waste and food scraps are buried in landfill sites, they also start to produce biogas.
• When sugar is removed from sugar cane, large amounts of plant matter remain. At several locations in sugar cane growing regions of NSW and
Queensland, sugar mills burn this plant matter to produce steam for use in the mill.
• The resulting steam is involved in generating electricity; any excess is fed into the local electricity system.
o Ethanol – cogeneration
• Plants produce sugars during photosynthesis, which can be converted into ethanol
▪ This is used for the starting process of other chemicals
▪ Also used during wine and beer production
▪ Ethanol can be produced industrially
i. But this is made from petroleum (non-renewable)
▪ Carbon dioxide is a product of the reaction between yeast and sugar
Geothermal Power (mitigation)
• Heat generated naturally from beneath the
earth’s surface from hot rocks
• Hot water is used to vaporise fluid with low
boiling point and the gas formed is used to rotate
wind turbines to generate electricity.
• The liquid is condensed + recycled without being
used up.
• Sources of heat are often far from electricity
markets, leading to high transmission costs.
• High cost of exploration, drilling and building in
remote locations.
Wind power
• Using wind turbines to create electricity
• no greenhouse gases produced
• wind power = renewable resource
• creates electricity
• turbines generate low frequency noise
• birds can fly into blades and die
• no wind = no electricity
▪ Using or changing agricultural practices of a range of cultural groups, including those of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
• Seed placed directly into soil, which has no
previous residual crops
• This moves the soil as little as possible, to
ensure weeds don’t germinate
• Helps retain organic matter, nutrients and
water within the soil
• Healthier soil structure
• Helps prevent soil moisture evaporation +
• Decreases fuel costs + less greenhouse gases
• New & expensive equipment is needed
• Herbicide usage is increased to control weeds
• Stubble can’t be used as much to feed livestock
Fire stick burning
• Using fire to burn vegetation
• This facilitates hunting, seed germination and
changes the composition of plant and animal
species in the areas
• Easier access through thick/prickly vegetation
• Encourage new growth + attract hunting
• Encourage development of food plants, for
cooking, warmth, signalling/spiritual reasons.
• Controlled fires, therefore less carbon in the air
from large, out of control fires
• Pollutes the air: due to smoke (cause health
• It can kill animals: can't climb trees/get away
fast enough
• Debate about Megafauna extinct due to
Module 8: Using Australia’s Natural Resources
Identify Australian renewable resources and where they are located, including but not limited to:
o Agricultural resources: terrestrial and aquatic
• Aus. major producer of: wheat, wool, beef + others: Sugar, grains,
vegetables, Grapes
• 77% grown/produced exported
• Food/fibre industries provide 1.6M jobs
• Seafood produced: remains stable past 20 yrs. 🡪 230 000 tonnes/yr.
• Value of fisheries/agriculture production = $2.4B/yr.
• Main aquatic plant use for food: large algae (kelp)
o Environmental flows = when water is released from a damn to determine the quantity, timing and quality of water flows required to:
• protects aquatic ecosystem, improve river health, protect river conditions
o Rivers – provide water for agriculture, industry, tourism
o Storm water – agriculture, field irrigation, toilet flushing
o Wastewater – treated + recycled
Energy sources
o Non-renewable: coal, petroleum, uranium
o Renewable: wind power, solar heating, solar electricity, wave power
o Other energy sources = tidal and hydrogen power
Investigate how mining sites affect the environment, including Aboriginal cultural sites, and examine methods of reclamation of the environment and those
sites after mining operations cease, including:
o Open-pit mining and Underground mining
o Open pit: Material near the surface is excavated from an open pit
o Underground: mining techniques are used to extract hard minerals from below the surface
Impact on Environment
Air pollution - (dust)
Sound pollution - (blasting)
Ground vibration - (damage man-made/natural structures)
Water pollution - (mine draining + river/ground water)
Loss of forest and ecology – (deforestation before mining)
Restoring the pre-mining land use (return to pasture)
Changing the land to another use (turned into lake, park, sporting fields, racing tracks)
• Waste rock dumps covered with topsoil
• Ground re-seeded
Offshore and onshore drilling
o Offshore: drilling underneath the seabed
o Onshore: drilling deep holes under the surface of the earth
Impact on Environment
Oil spills
Landscape changes
Pollution - (Machinery, gas flares/light pollution, methane
When drilling/extracting compete: must be decommissioned
Platforms/pipelines removed
• Ground re-seeded + erosion control measures in place
• Surface infrastructure removed
Prepare a case study to investigate the involvement of traditional owners in the planning procedures, mining practices and restoration of damaged lands after
mining operations cease
Century Mine - silver/lead/zinc
o Large open cut mine, 250 km northwest of Mt Isa, North West Queensland
o Built on Waanyi land
o Mining lease to the land is jointly owned by the company and Waanyi Aboriginal People
o Gulf Communities Agreement (negotiated under Native Title Act)
• The Waanyi, Mingginda, Gkuthaarn and Kukatj people along with the Queensland Government, and Century Mine all signed in 1997 and
reviewed the agreement in 2013.
• Provides employment and training for the local indigenous community, with at least 100 people employed at any one time
• Ensures the environment – both natural and cultural – are protected
▪ Cultural monitors are employed to conduct cultural clearances before the start of a new mining operation
• Local Aboriginal ownership – 51% local owned, 49% Mine owned
Prepare a case study of an important Australian renewable or non-renewable resource, including but not limited to:
Coal: non-renewable resource. Comes from an open-cut mine, several layers deep, and often takes years
of planning, and years to renew the area back to its original state. It is not a sustainable way of producing
electricity, as it is a finite resource, limited to the amount in the earth at one time. Coal takes millions of
years to develop to the level we need to burn, and we are running out of this resource quickly. In the
future, if we do not turn to more sustainable options, we will run out of coal, leaving nothing to burn for
electricity. Although more sustainable resources are being discovered, the use of coal is still widespread,
and it is still one of the most used non-renewable resources for electricity.
Module 8: Waste Management
Conduct a practical investigation of the composition of household or organisational waste
garbage bags
masking tape
a selection of bins from around
Lambton High School
Lay down 1 large tarp in an open secure environment
Tape – create 5 sections/squares on tarp
Collect bins in pairs from the quad and return to tarp
Tip the bins safely onto the tarp ensuring gloves are warn
Sort through the bins placing rubbish into five categories:
1. E-waste
2. Paper/cardboard
3. Straws
4. Soft plastic
5. Food scraps
Count the rubbish pieces as they are being sorted
Tally up the pieces of rubbish into a table
Collate results
Clean up the rubbish
Soft plastics (42%)
Paper/cardboard/ recyclables (32%)
Organic food waste (23%)
Spoons/straws (3%)
Outline the management options for different types of solid waste
Reduce (the amount of
packaging and materials)
Packaging using less cardboard
Changing the design of the package, how many are purchased
Changing material use of both products and/or packaging
o OVERALL: reduces pollution and (potential) natural resources, saves company and consumer money
Reuse (products and
Recyclable material
o Bottles, cardboard, aluminium, soft plastics
Reuse of products
o Clothes (vinnies, clothing bins)
o Printer cartridges
• OVERALL: less solid waste is produced and less waste is generated
Clothes, food and items can be donated to charities and organisations that need them
Saves energy to help keep materials out of landfill and incinerators (less CO2 in the atmosphere)
Provides raw materials for new product production
Paper, aluminium, plastic
o OVERALL: energy use is lessened, due to the need of making materials from scratch being eliminated
Donate (used items)
Recycling (products and
Green Waste (biodegradable
organic – food and garden –
waste, which is turned to
Landfill (site for the disposal
of waste materials by burial)
Reduction of waste to go into landfill
Helps improve the quality of soil
Site can be re-landscaped, making room for other things to be built
Less pollution is made due to less transporting
Evaluate the sustainability of a named waste management option, for example:
Woodlawn Bioreactor NSW
Energy used to produce and/or
recycle the waste
Environmental impact of waste
Space for disposal or storage of
Local waste management facilities
Demand for reused or recycled waste
Machine sorting
Transporting (road and rail)
o However odour reports are created, which show no
considerable smell
Methane gas created from bioreactor landfill
o However it is then used to power homes, or waste heat
to power aquaculture and horticulture
Uses an old open cut mine to fill with waste and allow for
fermentation until ready to be composted
Waste comes from anywhere in the country
o Sydney and beyond
Demand for the refused waste heat for horticulture and
aquaculture is high, especially for the Veolia site
Composting is becoming a way of reusing one’s household
waste, and reducing the amount that goes to landfill
Module 8: Sustainability
Investigate different definitions of sustainability and the rationales that underpin those definitions
o Sustainable Development: Development that meets the need of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own
Investigate human activities that affect sustainability, including but not limited to:
removal or
Maximum Sustainable Yield: the largest amount that can be taken that does not reduce the numbers of a species to levels that
the species is no longer variable.
o Kangaroos – harvesting 20% of the population
o Firewood – 5M harvested each year - wood removed balanced by regrowth of forest
Population Viability: ability of a population to survive & to avoid becoming extinct – depends on birth/death rates
o If death rates exceed growth rates, population may become extinct
Example: Seafood
o Sustainable: Squid
• Gould’s squid & southern calamari squid - fished sustainably around Aus.
• Due to over fishing: natural predators of squid increase
• Squids are redundant and they replenish their stocks quickly.
o Unsustainable: Atlantic Salmon
• Damaged due to overfishing + habitat destruction.
• Aquaculture facilities breed Atlantic salmon in open sea pens.
• Farmed fish suffer from parasites/diseases
• Chemicals/excrement pumped into ocean 🡪 marine pollution.
Eutrophication: the process where nutrients become concentrated in waterways, causing an explosion in the population of
microscopic algae and cyanobacteria.
o 1. As populations explode, water becomes discoloured (algal bloom).
o 2. Prevents light from penetrating into water 🡪 cutting off light & killing bottom dwelling aquatic plants
o 3. Within few days: uses up all oxygen dissolved in water 🡪 killing other organisms present
o 4. Eutrophication remains until rains replenish water supply & flush away surface scum of algae.
Example: Sydney Warragamba Dam
o Polluted by sewage leaking from septic tanks/other sources. 🡪 unfit for human consumption
• Local authorities – aimed to improve sewage system so that purer water reached dam
• Soil absorption, filtration of chemicals + recycling via plant rot systems = water quality increases
More species effected by logging & land clearing for agriculture/housing – compared to invasive species disease, etc.
Human activity/natural events (fire, drought, flooding) 🡪 change ecology, reduce diversity + threaten survival of species
Investigate the processes used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples as sustainable resource managers, for example:
Cultural traditions that
preserve Country and Place
and the resources located in
those spaces
Country: where you, your tribe and ancestors reside. Everything you need and are formed by come from ‘country’
Example: Totemism
o Part of the ATSI value system.
o Family/clan would adopt a totem (usually an animal which would be passed down through generations)
o Family has responsibly to look after/manage the use of their totem.
o Management of the physical resource, (ensuring that they don’t go extinct) & the spiritual management
(ceremonies to ensure adequate rain/food resources each season
Ongoing engagement with
o Aboriginal land management requires peoples to work on country therefore close relationships informs knowledge
groups such as land councils,
and expertise.
national parks and municipal
o Improving by consulting, training, recording and implementing projects with scientific community + aboriginal
councils to improve resource
o the west Arnhem land fire abatement project:
• First project using traditional land fire manage w/ scientific knowledge/research 🡪 better control
savannah wildfires therefore less greenhouse gas emissions.
o Cool burning technique:
• Scientist work alongside indigenous people 🡪 use traditional knowledge to scientifically confirm
benefits of technique.
Legislation and actions to
o Native title: rights/interests of ATSI peoples that are recognised under Aus. law
protect significant areas of
o Legislation/act: Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act
Country and Place
o protects the lake Macquarie Butterfly Cave: sacred meeting place for area’s abo women
o Local women feared proposed final stage of Roche which would ↑ visibility of area + threaten private nature of
cultural practices:
o Removal of vegetation/disturbed soil
o Destroys traditional stone arrangement
o Drilling/land clearing
o Meeting of lake Macquarie council -> supporters of butterfly cave converged to make presence felt
o 2013: cave declared an aboriginal Place in recognition of the sites cultural, social + historical significance.
Research and present information about a sustainability initiative in their community
Food is free movement
o 2012 project: old shipping pallets/political signs to create a
vegetable box.
o beds are designed to water plants from below
o growing conditions for plants: moisture evenly distributed
through the soil.
o Built/offered for free using salvaged resources that would be
headed to landfill.
ATSI eating introduced species to help save threatened species
o Feral cats caused extinction when introduced -> ATSI hunted feral
cats ATSI active on country = ↓ feral cats & ↓ extinction. Now: cat
species apart of country + worthy of respect
o Contributing to decision making + management planning regarding
feral cat controls