Environmental Science

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Solar energy produces electricity by generating copious amounts of heat, which is channeled through electrical conductors and transformed into electrical power. Solar heat collectors, cooling towers and photovoltaic panels are all types of energy systems that use solar energy. Heat collectors and panels sit on building roofs and over parking lots, and they are strategically placed facing south, where the sun shines with the most power.

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  • What is maximum sustainable yield?

    Q: What is maximum sustainable yield?

    A: Maximum sustainable yield is the maximum level at which a resource can be exploited without depleting it. According to the National Estuarine Research Reserve, such a stock must remain at above half of its full carrying capacity in order to maintain maximum exploitation.
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  • How does reforestation help the environment?

    Q: How does reforestation help the environment?

    A: Global reforestation in an important issue of growing concern. Forests are a natural carbon sink and absorb much of the emissions from burning fossil fuels.
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  • What is the difference between male and female pine cones?

    Q: What is the difference between male and female pine cones?

    A: The pine cones typically thought of as pine cones are actually the bigger female pine cones; male pine cones are not as woody and are much smaller in size. Female pine cones hold the seeds whereas male pine cones contain the pollen. Most conifers, or cone-bearing trees, have female and male pine cones on the same tree.
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  • What damage do avalanches cause?

    Q: What damage do avalanches cause?

    A: Avalanches can cause catastrophic damage to homes, habitat and property, as well as cause human deaths. Avalanches can cause flash floods if the debris reaches rivers or lakes and causes the water level to rise. Additionally, avalanches cause economic problems, as communities must spend considerable resources to rectify the damage caused by the falling snow and ice.
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  • What caused the hole in the ozone layer?

    Q: What caused the hole in the ozone layer?

    A: The gaping hole in the ozone layer of the atmosphere over the Antarctic was caused primarily by high concentrations of ozone-depleting chemicals called CFCs. The vast hole in the ozone was discovered by scientists in the 1980s, who upon discovering the dramatic loss in ozone cover, set to work determining a primary cause. They found excessive concentrations of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the area of concern; CFCs were frequently used as additives in spray cans and refrigerants, but are now banned in most areas of the world.
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  • What are alternative fuels?

    Q: What are alternative fuels?

    A: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency describes alternative fuels as those that are used in place of gasoline or diesel. Dozens of alternative fuels exist and new ideas are constantly explored, but the U.S. Department of Energy lists six types of alternative fuel that are already in production or in development as of 2014: biodiesel, electricity, ethanol, hydrogen, natural gas and propane.
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  • How does acid rain affect buildings?

    Q: How does acid rain affect buildings?

    A: The Virtual Chembook of Elmhurst College explains that acid rain considerably increases the rate of corrosion on marble, sandstone and limestone buildings. Sulfur dioxide and water forms sulfurous acid, and sulfur trioxide and water creates sulfuric acid, which reacts with limestone in a neutralization reaction. Limestone dissolves and crumbles as calcium sulfate is soluble in water.
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  • How long does it take for leather to decompose?

    Q: How long does it take for leather to decompose?

    A: It takes leather between 25 and 50 years to completely decompose. Leather that has been tanned can take significantly longer to decompose because of the chemicals used to tan it.
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  • How many plastic bottles are thrown away each year?

    Q: How many plastic bottles are thrown away each year?

    A: According to a 2009 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 632,655 to 999,001 tons of plastic water bottles were discarded in 2006. This analysis calculated the total as 76.5 percent of the plastic bottles produced in the United States.
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  • How do forest fires affect the environment?

    Q: How do forest fires affect the environment?

    A: According to the U.S. Forest Service, forest fires have a damaging effect on the environment, but they also cause a resurgence of nutrients in the areas they burn. Although fire can tear down acres and acres of trees, it can also enrich the soil to let new vegetation grow.
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  • Why do we need rain?

    Q: Why do we need rain?

    A: Rain is needed as a source of fresh water, which is essential for the survival of humans, plants and animals. Rain fills aquifers, lakes and rivers, maintaining the lives of living organisms. Rain maintains natural features, such as forests.
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  • What is the difference between an environment and an ecosystem?

    Q: What is the difference between an environment and an ecosystem?

    A: An environment generally refers to the surroundings of various living residents, while an ecosystem is a community consisting of both living and non-living things that work together. In general, an ecosystem is defined by its environment, and all organisms within the ecosystem must work in tandem to create a successful living space.
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  • What causes the greenhouse effect?

    Q: What causes the greenhouse effect?

    A: Heat energy comes to the Earth as sunlight and leaves in the form of infrared radiation, but greenhouses gases trap some of the radiation before it can escape the atmosphere again, leading to the "greenhouse effect." This gives the atmosphere a great deal of its ambient warmth. However, as greenhouse gases have increased their presence in the environment, the temperature of the Earth has risen as a result.
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  • What is the hottest country on Earth?

    Q: What is the hottest country on Earth?

    A: The hottest country in the world is Libya, where temperatures higher than 136 degrees Fahrenheit are recorded. The country's terrain is almost completely desert, with little rainfall and very hot temperatures year round.
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  • Where do dust storms occur?

    Q: Where do dust storms occur?

    A: According to NASA, dust storms can occur in any location where wind and exposed dirt is present. The most common location for dust storms are dry, arid regions.
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  • Why is oceanography important?

    Q: Why is oceanography important?

    A: Oceanography is a very important discipline for understanding the oceans, which are essential for all life on Earth and cover the majority of the Earth's surface. Oceanography is extremely multidisciplinary, covering the physics, chemistry, geology and biology of the world's oceans. No understanding of Earth's climate or the chemical cycles essential to life is complete without the insights of oceanography.
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  • What causes deforestation?

    Q: What causes deforestation?

    A: According to the Earth Observatory, the single most direct cause of deforestation is conversion of forestry to cropland and pasture. Other causes include urbanization and infrastructure expansion.
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  • What are the causes of environmental degradation in India?

    Q: What are the causes of environmental degradation in India?

    A: According to the Foundation for Sustainable Development, India's high population, coupled with its comparatively small geographic size, has resulted in major environmental degradation, including the loss of forests and the depletion of water and other natural resources. Air pollution, water pollution and an abundance of solid waste are major problems on the Indian subcontinent.
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  • What are the effects of ozone depletion?

    Q: What are the effects of ozone depletion?

    A: The main consequence of a depleted ozone layer is a reduction in the protection it affords against harmful ultraviolet radiation (UVB) emanating from the sun. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), increased UVB radiation damages human health, plant life, marine ecosystems and biogeochemical cycles.
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  • What are the main parts of an ecosystem?

    Q: What are the main parts of an ecosystem?

    A: The main parts of an ecosystem are soil, water, heat from the sun, sunlight, the atmosphere and living organisms. An ecosystem is a community of non-living and living things that work together.
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  • What is the original source of almost all the energy in most ecosystems?

    Q: What is the original source of almost all the energy in most ecosystems?

    A: The sun is the ultimate source of energy in most terrestrial and marine ecosystems. The major exceptions are deep sea communities that depend on heat from hydrothermal vents as well as lithotrophic archaebacteria that derive energy directly from rocks.
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