Module 23-24: Human Populations

  1. Describe the community succession from the coast to Waimea, uphill.
  2. Describe the 4 survivorship curves
  3. Compare parasitism with predation
  4. Compare mutualism with commensalism

lab quiz

  1. When your rabbit population peaked, what was the rabbit and lynx population?
  2. When the lynx population peaked, what was your rabbit and lynx population?
  3. How would the graphs look if the predator were cold blooded?
  4. How could this model be used to map the spread of a disease?
First of all a flow diagram:
Click for full-size image
Note that this is for a country, not the planet, since people (so far) are not leaving the planet...or arriving from elsewhere.
National version as a formula:

If you look at the planet as a whole (sans aliens or Elon Musk):

so, there is a neat shorthand formula for this:

Which is an estimate, the real number is 69.3 (why? look below if you want to know)
Here is an example:

Note that as the growth rate increases, the doubling time decreases.
Look for this on the AP as multiples/fractions of 70: 14, 28, 35, and so on...

You can also see this by using our previous formula: Nt = Noe^rt
Set N to 100, try with a 7% growth rate (0.07 is r) and set time to be 10 years (70/10)
Calculate Nt

Now, to babies: TFR is the total number of babies a woman will have in her lifetime.
Replacement level fertility (RLF) is just above 2.0, (usually 2.1, as some babies don't reproduce or make it to reproductive age).
What does this mean in Japan, where young people are not having babies?

RLF depends on developed/developing nations as well (clean water, medical care, access to food, war)
Life expectancy: depends on these as well...
Infant mortality: under age 1 (reason for big Hawaiian one year birthdays)
child mortality: under 5

Look up life expectancy in 1900...
Look up the average family size and how many made it to age of 5 in 1900
What portion of the US population was farmers then?

Age structure diagrams/population pyramids-check these out: UAE, Japan, Sudan, Iraq/Iran, Russia----WHY?
See also baby boom and boom echoes...
Check this out:


  1. Give an example of how you might see the baby boom and boom echo on your population diagrams.
  2. You work for the UN tracking two nations: Aleconia has a growth rate of 14% and Anuhania has a growth rate of 3.5%. What are the doubling times for each?
  3. Anuhania has an immigration rate of 4%, a CDR of 2%, a CBR of 8% and an emigration rate of 2%. What is the growth rate for Anuhania?
  4. Why are first year birthdays such a big deal in some cultures?

...and look these up:
  1. Go to 1950 and look at the US population. Look again in 1960. Where is the baby boom? Why were there so few babies born during 1940-45?
  2. If you were a 42 year old American in 2000, when were you born? How old are your kids? Find the "boom echo".
  3. Find the impact of the Iran/Iraq war of 1980-89, which side had the biggest impact? If you were a 35 year old Iraqi man in 1995, how old were you during this war?
  4. If you are a 30 year old German man in 1950, when were you born? How old were you in WWII (1936-1945)?
  5. If you were a 35 year old woman in Japan in 1960, why are there so few men to choose from?
  6. Look at the UK in 1960. Where are the casualties of WWII, and are they both male and female? Explain.
  7. What the heck is going on in UAE?
  8. Look at Russia in 1960. What gaps do you see? Why?
  9. Information about China is very spotty-why would this be? See if you can find the impact of the one-child policy from 1979-2016.
  10. Compare present day Japan to Africa. What issues will they need to address?
  11. Look at present day Italy, Japan and Germany. What is common?
  12. Compare present day India and China. What do you see?


Fecundity: ability to reproduce

Fertility: production of offspring

CBR: crude birth rate: births per 1000 people

TFR: total fertility rate: total kids per woman in her lifetime (25-30!)

ZPG: zero population growth: 5+ where infant mortality is high, 2.1 is normal

China: was 6 -> 1.8 (below replacement level since 1979, one child policy)

140/100 male to female ratio: why?

Global TFR is 2.6

CDR: crude death rate: deaths per 1000

Why a life span? mitochondrial DNA...

1900 Indian man had life expectancy of 23!

Not now, reasons: nutrition CLEAN WATER, sanitation, education

75 men, 85 women (testosterone, war, "hold my beer and watch this!")

Dependency ratio; baby boomers and your future: how many workers to retirees

imagine your life at your age in other countries...

Russia low TFR: alcoholism and antibiotic resistant Tuberculosis

Module 23 Demographic Transition

Better diagram:

Another possible version:
Click for full-size image

IPAT formula:

GDP vs. GNP (nationalism, global economy)

Urban areas, UGB (Portland)

See also Ecological Footprint Calculator:

Rule of 70, er 69.3...The TRUTH!
We know that Nt =Noe^rt
When Nt/No = 2, this is the doubling time
ln (Nt/No) = ln (e^rt)
ln(e^x) = x just like square root of x squared is x. They are reverse of each other...
ln (2) = 0.693 = rt
0.693/r = t2, the "doubling time"
But wait! we saw 70, not .693...
Growth rates are in percent (part/100) so the percents cancel out, meaning you can just use percent as a number, like 14%.
You will certainly see this on an AP exam, usually as a multiple or fraction of 70: 14, 28, 35, 7, 3.5...
Rule of 70 rules! (or actually the rule of 69.3)....

See labs below for Population simulation worksheets


Modules 18-21 Population ecology

Module 18-abundance and distribution
Start with this:
Click for full-size image
A crude example of this might be:
population-HPA students
biosphere-the world

some rabbit individual
some of the rabbit's friends, a population of rabbits
rabbits and the things they eat and eat them-community
ecosystem-the plants that support both ends of this process
biosphere-the planet

We covered ecosystem energy and matter a few weeks ago, this chapter is about population ecology.
Population dynamics

Notation: Population size is represented as N (note not "n"): population size within a defined area at a specific time (brings in migration).
So, we could say the student population of HPA would be all students here this year, 2020-2021

Check out the diagrams on population distribution: random, uniform and clumped. Important vis a vis biodiversity
Structures: age and gender (sex)

Density dependent factor: e.g. food or reproductive rate in rats (more rats, lower fecundity)
Something that influences reproduction or survival...

Density independent factors: storms, disasters, fires (note density independent: one bambi or 100 bambi all perish in the same fire)

Limiting resource: usually food, but could include space, nutrients, etc.

Carrying capacity: K (note not "k"): how many individuals an environment can support

Module 19: growth models
Imagine you are a happy bacteria, or rabbit, with lots of food, land and no predators. Your population growth curve might look like this:

This is called exponential growth, or "J shaped growth"
Note that it has no end, or limiting factor.

Small r is the growth rate. If you have had physics (yay!) this is usually "k" in some examples, or related to RC decay/growth.
Learning this equation is VERY useful.
Note that it depends on two things:
the starting amount in the population (No)
and the growth rate (r)
Here is an example:
Click for full-size image

You might also find this link useful:

Many systems follow J shaped exponential growth until they run out of food or space, then there is overshoot and die-off:

A more ideal version of this is the S shaped curve, called logistic growth:

Here is a formula for logistic growth that we'll discuss:

Click for full-size image
Don't be intimidated by this formula...
dN/dt is just delta N over delta t, or the ∆ in number over the ∆ in time,
or the rate of population growth (some of you may see this as the slope of the S curve)
Note that when the ratio N/K is very small or close to zero, the stuff in the parentheses becomes 1, so the formula is rate = rN, or J curved exponential growth.
As N/K nears one (number of critters equals carrying capacity) the term in the parentheses becomes zero, so no growth.
Note also that if N/K is GREATER than one, the growth rate (slope of the curve) become negative. This is overshoot and die off.


Logistic growth worksheet

First: exponential growth:

Imagine 10 imaginary rabbits (No=10)

Assume r = 0.5 (50 percent growth rate, or each rabbit makes 0.5 rabbits per year)

Find the population 2 years later:

Nt = Noe^rt

Nt = 10e^0.5*2

Nt = 27 rabbits

After 4 years:

After 10 years:


Next, use the logistic growth formula, same data, with a carrying capacity (K) of 100:

Small population: 10 rabbits

∆N/∆t = rN(1-N/K)

= 0.5*10(1-10/100)

= 5(1-0.1)

= 5(0.9)

= 4.5 rabbits per year

Find the rabbits per year for these populations:

Medium population: 27 rabbits

Near K: 74 rabbits

Above K: 1489 rabbits

quiz (you may use your worksheet only)

  1. 30 rabbits live on an island with carrying capacity 200. They reproduce at a rate of 0.5 per year. How many rabbits will be on the island after 3 years? (hint: you would do the calculation three times-this is only an estimate though, the true formula would be a bit more complex)
  2. What will be the slope of the growth curve at this point?
Next: predator/prey phase diagrams
Check this out:

Click for full-size image
Note the phase (timing) relationship between the abundance of the food and the population of the prey, then the predator.
Predator Prey Lab:
Download file "predator-prey-simulation12.pdf"
Worksheet: (uses Numbers application)
Download file "Population Growth Model.numbers"
Worksheet: excel version:
Download file "Population Growth Model.xls"
Download file "ESI-24-modeling_population_growth.pdf"

Now we can discuss generalizations of r and K strategists:
Note: r comes from small r (growth rate) in the growth formula, while K comes from large K in the same formula (carrying capacity):
Where do you fit in? How about Nemo?

Birds also fall into type II (no pun intended), as they randomly crash into stuff...
There is a fourth type: deer. How would you imagine this curve?
Another reason why genocides are so damaging to cultures: If an oral tradition (e.g. Hawaiians) are decimated by smallpox for example, it is the very old (the holders of the legends and history) and the very young (those who have time to listen, not work, and will then grow up and tell their kids) that are gone. This is a sort of cultural bottleneck...

Module 20: Community ecology
Competitive exclusion principle: two species competing for the same resources cannot co-exist, leads to...
Resource partitioning: time, space, type of food (one species picks one, the other survives)
Predation: predator and prey, one lives, the other dies
Mutualism: both benefit
Commensalism: one benefits, no harm to the other
Parasitism: one benefits, harm to other
quizlet review

keystone species vs. indicator species

Keystone species-many others depend on it, removal has an impact much greater than their relative population

e.g. beavers: create habitat for others (dams), so they are also "keystone engineers", only they don't wear funny hats.

Here's what a keystone looks like:

In architecture, if you remove the keystone, the arch collapses. Cool term, right?

This is different from a capstone (seniors might like this): a capstone is what you put on top of a finished structure

Another example: "keystone predators" e.g. sea stars, which eat mussels, clearing space on rocks for other species

Indicator species-signal health of a system, like some fish or worms signify water quality, also known as "bioindicators"

Succession: one species takes over another in time

Module 21: Community Succession

Primary succession: From bare rock, no soil: (e.g. lichen)

These hold moisture and some sort of matrix (e.g. soil) so that others can then grow

Click for full-size image
You might imagine driving from the Kohala coast up to Waimea, seeing bare lava along the coast, then fountain grass, then small bushes, then trees along the stream, then larger trees away from the stream.
Water is the key to life, so anything that can trap and hold water (e.g. soil) can support life.

Secondary succession: from disturbed area with soil (e.g. after a fire)-there is soil, but no plants, growth here might be quicker than primary sucession.

Pioneer species: arrives first, sets up reliable system of water and matrix

Climax community: stable, well evolved ecosystem, e.g. old growth forest, able to survive disasters (e.g. fire)

Aquatic succession: from stream (flowing water) to pond (less flow) to shallow pond (even less flow) to marsh (mostly mud)

Island biogeography (like here in Waimea): habitat size AND distance from others influences diversity (e.g. birds)

This was Darwin's whole gig, also some folks off the coast of Chile, often with birds involved.

Check out an alternate presentation of these in the Withgott text, with a special section about our island:

Frog book chapter 5:

Click for full-size image

  1. What three things in order are necessary for evolution to succeed?
  2. What are the characteristics of an r specific species. Give an example.
  3. What are the characteristics of a K specific species. Give an example as well.
  4. The population of wolves may rise and fall along with rabbits, but not at the same time. Explain why.


Biodiversity and Extinction, Ch 5, Mods 14-17

Week of 10.5.20:

  1. Why is water depth related to life?
  2. Commercial development in Louisiana removed mangrove swamps. How did this change the impact of Hurricane Katrina?
  3. What is a “littoral Navy”?
  4. What factors are damaging corals globally?
Unit 2 from Cliff notes 2011:
Download file "cliff unit 2.pdf"
Mod 14: Biodiversity: (see also chapter 7 in Froggie book)

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Species diversity:
richness vs. evenness. richness = number of species, evenness = balanced proportions
Click for full-size image

We can calculate biodiversity:
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Lab: Calculating Shannon's index, using baked goldfish (the cheddar kind, not the ones that stink)
1. pour out a random number of goldfish on your plate (your "pond")
2. determine the number of distinct populations by color
3. determine the proportion for each population (e.g. 5 red ones out of 20 total would be 5/20 or 0.25)
4. calculate Shannon's index (H) for this "pond"
5. repeat the experiment with a very low biodiversity, calculate H
6. repeat with a very high biodiversity, calculate H
1. what is the value of biodiversity in any community?
2. what are the benefits and drawbacks of a low biodiversity?
3. how does this play into competition (next chapter)
4. why is it important to determine the number of "distinct populations"?
5. what is the impact of this on a human population, e.g. the census?

Mod 15: Evolution
Three conditions must be met:
1. genetic variation (mutation)
2. some stress that favors this variation (adaptation)
3. survivors procreate, pass on the variation (reproduction)

Genotype: set of genes (dominant and recessive)
Phenotype: traits expressed in a living creature

Genetic drift-pretty much what it sounds like
Bottleneck effect-VERY important: when a species is almost extinct, there is little variation in the gene pool of the survivors, even if their population rebounds (e.g. whales hunted almost to extinction, the entire gene pool is limited to the diversity of the sole survivors)

Founder effect: random selection of survivors, creating a new gene pool (birds, gilligan)

1. If the early atmosphere of our planet was thinner and less developed, it might have allowed more cosmic radiation to reach the surface. How would this impact the natural mutation/evolution rate?
2. what would be the impact on an ecosystem of rampant mutation rates?

mod 16: speciation
Geographic isolation (e.g. Galapagos) also found where we disturb natural habitats with roads
Causes Allo (other) Patric (father) speciation
Eventually reproductive isolation will result: different breeds will not be able to procreate

There is another more rare form of speciation: Sympatric ("same father"), from polyploidy, ("many chromosomes")

GMO: see roundup ready corn and wheat, freeze proof tomatoes and others.
Not to be confused with Dwarf Wheat and Norman Borlaug (see population chapters for more on this).
Dwarf wheat was a simple hybrid, not a GMO.
Look up "gene guns" and CRISPR

mod 17: niches and species distribution
Check this out:

You'll see another like this in population distributions...
Range of tolerance-where it can survive
Fundamental niche-happy place
Realized niche-de facto place
Distribution-areas where they live (we'll see more of this in the chapter on population distributions: random, scattered, patterned)


Module 13 Aquatic Biomes


Shallow shore area=littoral (means shallow), see the "littoral Navy", photosynthesis here (shallow, light shines through)
Open water area=limnetic zone, no rooted plants (too deep), phytoplankton here, only as deep as sunlight can penetrate
Deep water=profundal ("profound") or deep zone: no light penetrates, bacterial decomposition.
Bottom=benthic zone: mud, dark, cloudy

Click for full-size image

Oligo (few) trophic=low productivity
Meso (middle) trophic=medium
Eutrophic (eu=good trephien=food)=lots of productivity (sometimes too much, like in "Poisoned Waters")

Freshwater wetlands-submerged most of the time (swamps, marshes, bogs) this is the history of all coal and oil we now use

Salt marsh: usually connected to the sea, act as a coastal buffer for Hurricanes, very productive, many nutrients, lots of organic material
Mangrove swamp: special version of this in Tropical areas (e.g. Florida)

Intertidal zone: area between high and low tide

Ocean zones:
Coral reefs-see coral bleaching, pH, temperature and salinity sensitive (see Hamakua coast vs. Puako)
Intertidal zone: between high and low tide
Photic (light) zone-shallow, photosynthesis, kelp, others
Aphotic (dark) zone-too dark for photosynthesis
Chemosythesis/thermosynthesis: deepwater steam vents, based on Sulfur instead of Oxygen, bacteria generate energy with methane (CH4) and H2S (instead of H20)
Benthic=deep ocean
Pelagic=open ocean (think of big sailing ships, whales, stuff like that)
Hadal zones: like Hades: deepest, darkest zones. Weird fish, no light...

Click for full-size image

Frog book notes:

Biodiversity next:


Module 12: land biomes

Huh? Terrestrial=earth vs. aquatic, having to do with ducks...

9 Biomes are usually defined by precipitation (rain, fog, others) and temperature.
Big Island has 8 of the 9 biomes, or in the 12 biome model, we have 11/12, or 9 of 13, or 10 of 14 in another model. Many models...

Traveling up a mountain is like crossing biomes. Check this out:
Imagine driving from Hamakua or Hilo up to the summit of Mauna Kea: tropical rain forest to temperate (mild) rain forest to boreal (north) forest to tundra. There is even a glacier up on Mauna Kea. Cool.
This would be like starting in the upper right corner of the diagram and moving diagonally down and to the left.

Now check out the planet:

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Notice the horizontal bands. If you've read "Guns Germs and Steel" you know that humans migrated horizontally, so their crops and livestock would thrive in similar biomes. See? Migrating north to south is tough.

Now look at this:

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These diagrams are how we describe biomes without a cool map.
The blue line is the amount of rainfall, with units on the RIGHT side of the graph.
The red line is the temperature, with units on the LEFT side of the graph.
The shaded region in the months below (jfmamjjasond) is the growing season when temperatures are above freezing.
When the precipitation line is above the temperature line, growth is limited by temperature (e.g. freezing).
When the blue line is below the red line, growth is limited by precipitation (e.g. the desert).

Start with the north: Tundra is what you'd see in Alaska.
Permafrost is soon to be in the news. It is made of permanently frozen ground a few feet below the surface.
Even roots cannot penetrate it, so some trees grow in a stunted fashion.
It is also composed of frozen organic matter, which when it melts will decompose, releasing CO2 and CH4 (methane), which is 20x as powerful as CO2 as a greenhouse gas.


Note the cool temp, so growth is determined by temp, not rainfall. Lots of snow here, and little liquid water for plants, so yeah, mainly snow and glaciers.

Contrast that with the boreal (north) forest:

Note the short growing season. Any plants that survive usually have an oily sap (pine trees, evergreens) that does not freeze. Also note the serious cold in the winter-animals have to adapt to these (fur, hibernation, etc.)

Temperate (mild) forests are nicer, longer growing season, and rarely freeze. They are usually near the ocean, so they do not freeze (ocean is a huge heat sink). The often have lots of rain (think of Seattle). You may recall these are places where the surface parts of Ferrell and Polar cells converge, bringing in clouds and as these clouds rise into the atmosphere, they release their water as precipitation.

Temperate (mild) seasonal forest actually has seasons:
Deciduous trees can live here, like maple and oak. It gets close to freezing, but no real dry season.

Woodland/shrubland is like much of southern California, or the Mediterranean. Wine can grow here:

Note it never really freezes, but growth is determined by precipitation (blue line is below the red line). This is also known as "chaparral" or the "fynbos" or "nice forest" in Afrikaans (South Africa). Look up the main wine regions of the world, they will fit this biome.

Temperate grassland/cold desert is a dry, grassy area, like Oklahoma, although it does get very cold there, so think more of Texas, or the Gobi desert. Again, growth is rain limited: (you may recall these are near Hadley/Ferrel cell subsidence, so dry air from space falls here)

Tropical rainforest is the rainiest of them all, and much of our island has this near the shore. Warm temperatures, and paradoxically poor soil nutrition (all of the nutrients are in the plants). On Mt. Waialeale on Kauai, the rainfall is 480 INCHES per year, 2.5 times as high as the high point on the chart below:

Africa and Brazil hold the next biome: Savanna or tropical seasonal forest. Think of Madagascar (the film): not many large trees, room for animals to roam, lots of grass, happy lions, maybe a bossy penguin or two...
Growth dependent on rainfall: (blue line below red one)

Finally, the subtropical desert biome, like what you'd see in the Sahara desert (another film), or most of Australia, the Atacama in Chile, the Mojave desert in California, and some of Mexico. Note the Gobi desert is not on this list-too cold. Again, note these areas are where dry air subsides (falls) from the Hadley and Ferrell cells.

Biome Game:

Click for full-size image
Find these places in the first three climatographs:
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
San Diego, California
Belem, Brazil

Find these biomes below:

tropical rain forest

tropical savanna


temperate grasslands

temperate deciduous forest

temperate rain forest

boreal forest


Find these biomes:

Tropical Savanna

Temperate Grassland





Temperate Deciduous Forest

Tropical Rain Forest

Click for full-size image

Click for full-size image

LAB: Gambling with biomes

Gambling with biomes

  1. Below is a list of locations around the world. Roll the dice and using your vast knowledge of biomes and the high tech globes on your desk, determine the biome and type of life you might find there.
  2. In the next round reverse the process with the biome list below, determining the locations around the globe.


  1. Chile
  2. Zambia
  3. Philippines
  4. Oklahoma
  5. San Luis Obispo
  6. Germany
  7. Seattle
  8. Greenland
  9. Ontario Canada
  10. Tunisia
  11. North Pole
  12. Kamuela


  1. tundra
  2. boreal forest
  3. temperate rain forest
  4. temperate seasonal forest
  5. woodlands
  6. temperate grassland
  7. tropical rain forest
  8. savannah
  9. desert
  10. cold desert
  11. taiga
  12. tropical seasonal forest


Modules 9, 10, 11: Circulation

The modules:

Module 9: Heating of the earth

Module 10: Air circulation

Module 11: Ocean circulation


Module 9 heating of the earth

  • Tropo (top) sphere-heated by contact with earth, where most weather occurs
  • Strato (high) sphere-cooler, where commercial aircraft travel, more radiation there
  • Meso (middle) sphere-higher, but does not contain charged particles
  • thermo (hot) sphere-also known as the ionosphere, charged particles from interaction with the solar wind (charged protons and others), "hot" because of these particles slowing down, but so little atmosphere it would freeze you if you were there. Three layers: D, E and F, with F being the highest, all three reflect radio waves, but only the lower ones conduct/reflect in sunlight
  • Exo (outer) sphere-where space begins, freezing cold about one hydrogen molecule per square meter
  • Ozone: between the troposphere and stratosphere, this absorbs UV radiation
  • Magnetosphere: way out there, deflects solar wind, particles then spiral into the north and south poles creating the auroras.
  • If no magnetosphere, we'd cook like in a microwave oven (Film: The Core)
  • if no ozone layer, all plants would die, DNA would be mutated, life would cease except for deep thermal vents (possible origin of terrestrial life)

Click for full-size image


  • 4 seasons (not just a hotel), equinox means "equal night”, solstices are the extremes (why sacred?)
  • Earth spins counter clockwise when viewed from north pole (think: sun rises in the east)
  • Latitudes are like a ladder, go horizontally (east to west)
  • Longitudes are all long, go vertically (north to south)
  • Seasons are determined by earth tilt, not by distance to the sun
  • Although, Australia (southern hemisphere) summer happens when we are closer to sun in our elliptical orbit, so more extreme summers
  • Albedo-think of Albus (white) Dumbledore, means reflectivity. Earth is about 30%, snow is 95%

Click for full-size image

Module 10 Air currents and Water stuff

  • Relative humidity: amount of water in the air at a certain temperature, relative to the max it could hold at that temperature (RH). Look this up here: or
  • You can blow on the room sensor and see this rise.
  • Absolute humidity: true amount of water in percent (AH)

  • Saturation point: the max amount of water air can hold at that temp (rises with temperature)
  • You may feel more comfortable with high temp and low humidity because your body can evaporate and cool more effectively. Conversely, humid, hot weather is ugly. Cold, humid air insulates poorly, so feels chilly, so running your air conditioner when it is humid and cool may actually make you feel warmer.
  • You can look this up, it is called the "comfort curve" or psychrometric chart: Download file "comfort.pdf"
  • Dew point: weather term for the temp that water will condense from air, depends on humidity (think of cool mornings, wet grass, or water vapor condensing on a cool drink)
  • Adiabatic cooling: think of Waimea canyon, or the mountains of the Andes, Olympics, Coastal range, Himalayas, etc. As air rises, the reduced pressure makes it cooler. Opposite of pumps, which get hot (compression). You might also see this with aerosol spray cans.

Click for full-size image


  1. You see a circular flow in the counter-clockwise direction in the Northern Hemisphere on Is this low or high pressure?
  2. Why is the ocean less salty near the equator?
  3. As a parcel of air rises (like Waipio or the Himalayas), what happens to the absolute and relative humidity? What happens next?
  4. What level of the atmosphere has most of the weather and why?
  • Adiabatic heating: reverse of this: think of Puako or Kawaihae: as air descends, it is compressed and gets hotter.
  • Latent (hidden) heat release: when vapor condenses from gas to liquid, it releases energy. Opposite of evaporation or boiling, which both require energy.
  • Convection: one of three means that energy moves from place to place:
    • radiation (like light, can be reflected),
    • conduction (contact),
    • convection (movement of mass, usually air or water).
  • Hadley cells: between 30N and 30S, convergence at the equator (hot air rises there), descends after shedding heat to space and water as it rises (rain), descending dry air forms deserts at 30N and 30S. Winds from the north to south at the surface, opposite in the stratosphere.

Click for full-size image

Check this out on,-155.533,5

  • ITCZ: intertropical convergence zone: the place near the equator where this convergence occurs, lower salinity in equatorial oceans (rains all the time)
  • Ferrell cells: between 30N and 60N, also on the southern hemisphere: deserts at the bottom, northward wind at the surface, opposite in space (stratosphere), which is why commercial flights usually have a headwind where they'd have a tailwind at the surface. Also why when trades are strong, mainland flights are faster/shorter.
  • Polar cells: southward wind from 60N to 90N, creates dry desert at the north pole.
  • Coriolis effect; spinning of earth makes air near the equator rotate faster around the axis than polar air. This difference creates hurricanes and ocean currents, therefore diagonal winds (see fig 10.6)
  • Rain shadow: think of the coast near Mahukona or Lapakahi, between Kawaihae and Hawi: very dry as all moisture has been wrung out of the air by ascending above mount Kohala. Think also of Eastern Washington, or the Desert in Chile, where the Andes dry out the air. Many more-find some!

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Mod 11 ocean currents

Check this out:

Verify on again:,-155.533,5

  • Notice that the north pacific currents flow clockwise, south pacific counter clockwise. why?
  • There are places with little forward current, so they become islands of debris, e.g. the so called "Pacific Gyre", which is about the size of Texas.
  • Gyres describe the circular flow, some refer to the islands of debris as gyres (not accurate), gyres are the circles, most equatorials move west
  • Difference between flotsam and jetsam: one floats, the other is jettisoned from boats
  • Thermohaline (thermo=heat, haline=saltwater) circulation:

  • This upwelling of 2000 year old water off the Kona coast is the bases for Koyo water near the airport (why is this water so precious?)
  • Upwelling off the peruvian/chilean coast-Andean trench=great fishing when in normal conditions (not el niño)
  • ENSO= el nino souther oscillation-a really big deal, reverses the normal ocean circulation, impacts weather around the planet

El niño and la niña (ENSO)

Note: top diagram has strong OFFSHORE wind, pulling up nutrients from below, note also that it is one big box from Peru to Indonesia, with a strong warm, dry subsidence around the coast of Peru (good for beach folks), known as La Niña, or the little girl,

Note: lower diagram (El Niño) has main convection moving to the middle of the ocean basin, weakening the offshore wind around Peru, so sad fisher-folk. El Niño was often associated with Christmas, so the "little boy" reference.

Though ENSO is a single climate phenomenon, it has three states, or phases, it can be in. The two opposite phases, “El Niño” and “La Niña,” require certain changes in both the ocean and the atmosphere because ENSO is a coupled climate phenomenon. “Neutral” is in the middle of the continuum, also known as “La Nada” or “the nothing”.

  1. El Niño: A warming of the ocean surface, or above-average sea surface temperatures, in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. Over Indonesia, rainfall tends to become reduced while rainfall increases over the tropical Pacific Ocean. The low-level surface winds, which normally blow from east to west along the equator (“easterly winds”), instead weaken or, in some cases, start blowing the other direction (from west to east or “westerly winds”). This makes for sad fisher-people off the coast of Peru
  2. La Niña: A cooling of the ocean surface, or below-average sea surface temperatures, in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. Over Indonesia, rainfall tends to increase while rainfall decreases over the central tropical Pacific Ocean. The normal easterly winds along the equator become even stronger. Happy fisher-people off the coast of Peru due to nutrient upwelling from the Peruvian trench.
  3. Neutral: Neither El Niño or La Niña. Often tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures are generally close to average. However, there are some instances when the ocean can look like it is in an El Niño or La Niña state, but the atmosphere is not playing along (or vice versa).

Figure 11.3 below——

Top: La Nada or La Niña: happy fisher-people off the coast of Peru (nutrient upwelling)

Bottom: El Niño: sad fisher-people off the coast of Peru


Movement of matter-critical items to know

CO2 + H2O -> H2CO3 -> H+ + HCO3 -
Carbon dioxide is absorbed by water, making it acidic
Why important?
Ocean acidification

NPK fertilizers
NH4NO3 common one
Why important?
Nitrogen is basis for growth
Petrochemical fertilizers
ANFO bombs (Beirut)

Solid phase only
Bones, teeth
Algal Bloom
Why important?
growth limiting factor

Hydrothermal vents
Acid rain
Why important?


Poisoned Waters video-PBS

Poisoned Waters-Frontline Video

Video is here:

High quality version is here:

You may find it helpful to download this into your own computer: hold the option key while clicking on the link.


Water Pollution-air pollution-climate change

Watersheds, transit time

water pollution:continuity, local until ocean,


Segment 1: Chesapeake bay:

  • Chesapeake watershed
  • EPA CWA 1970
  • Perdue/hog Ag farms, Eutrophication

Segment 2: Potomac River:

  • Endocrine disrupters-drinking water

Segment 3: Puget Sound:

  • Bioaccumulation-PCB Killer Whales
  • Boeing-PCBs from runways
  • Runoff-water transit time King County

Segment 4: FairFax County, VA:

  • Tyson’s corner-transit time, sediment runoff
  • Loudon county-traffic planning
  • Arlington-urban planning


Chesapeake Bay

  1. why is it useful to get the historical view of the craggy old fishermen?
  2. how are the fish an indicator species?
  3. how large is the Chesapeake watershed?
  4. why is this bay uniquely vulnerable?
  5. what causes dead zones in the film?
  6. what is the global trend in dead zones? where?
  7. what three basic functions of the bay will likely be lost to your generation?
  8. what was different 40 years ago?
  9. what was the cause and effect process of Earth Day and the EPA?
  10. Did Nixon back the clean water act? Explain.
  11. What were the key tenets of the CWA?
  12. What were the initial actions of the EPA?
  13. RFK jr. says he could not swim in the Hudson, Charles or Potomac. Where are these?
  14. Why did you have to take a shower if you fell into these rivers?
  15. What was the Potomac point source pollution source described in the film?
  16. What is BNR and how does it work?
  17. What is not removed from human wastewater with BNR that concerns us?
  18. How did Reagan’s policies impact the EPA and pollution regulation?
  19. What is “voluntary compliance” and did it work? explain.

Factory farms

  1. what is the biggest danger with concentrated animal farms (poultry, pigs, cows)?
  2. Look up why we have different names for the same animals: cow/beef,chicken/poultry, pig/pork
  3. Why is it advantageous for Perdue to subcontract chicken operations?
  4. what is vertical integration?
  5. what was the national response to cheap chicken?
  6. if you were to put chicken manure on your garden, you could burn your plants. why?
  7. On the way downhill to the coast, there is an egg factory that went out of business, who now sells “manure compost”. Where did this come from, and how is it a good deal for them?
  8. Why does not Perdue own the chicken waste, if they own the chickens? How does the Perdue guy dodge the problem?
  9. what is the difference between city waste and ag waste?
  10. What does the chicken guy say about deer?
  11. What did the chicken lobby in Maryland (eastern shore) do about pollution regulation? why?
  12. How is this similar to the Iowa corn ethanol lobby?
  13. RFK Jr. describes two things: externalized costs and subsidies. What does he mean by these?

Endocrine disrupters

  1. why are not endocrine disrupters part of the clean water act?
  2. what is intersex in the male bass? what causes this?
  3. how does the concept of river continuity impact endocrine disrupters?
  4. do they need to be very concentrated to be effective?
  5. a person flushes birth control pills (hormones) down the drain. How can this impact someone living many miles downstream?
  6. why are these hormones not filtered by water treatment plants?
  7. What is “synergism”? Why is it critical here?

Puget Sound

  1. How cold is the water in Puget Sound? Why is this relevant?
  2. why do the apex predators have the highest concentration of PCB?
  3. what is a sentinel species? why is this relevant?
  4. which population of humans is now showing similar health effects?
  5. what is Superfund, who funds it?
  6. what is the biggest liability problem with the Boeing situation?
  7. what is the concept of “deep pockets”?
  8. why would native Americans be the indicator species in the duomish river?
  9. is south park (not the tv show) upper income or lower, immigrant or not? Why is this important?
  10. You will be expected to know all about Love Canal. How is this similar?
  11. what do you think is coming out of the pipe underwater?
  12. why are “impervious surfaces” so bad for the Puget Sound?
  13. why do folks get upset about oil spills and not the stuff you see in the video?
  14. what is the difference in transit time for rain water hitting concrete vs. soil?
  15. Ron Sims has enemies in King county. Who?
  16. How is the Growth Management Act/Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) similar to the Urban Growth Boundaries (UGB) concept in Portland Oregon (recall the Portland e2 video)
  17. Look up the CAO now. How is it going?
  18. Who is King County named for? Why is this ironic?


  1. Look up Tyson’s corner. What did it look like in 1945?
  2. Would Tyson’s corner have been successful without cars?
  3. How is Tyson’s corner like Los Angeles?
  4. How is Arlington different from Tyson’s corner?
  5. In a sense, US cities are learning to become more like older European cities. Why are they different?
  6. what is the “canary in the coal mine” and where did this term come from?
  7. According to the narrator and Governor of Washington, what is a necessary part of the solution?
  8. What is your part in this future?


Ch. 3 Modules 6,7,8: movement of energy and matter

Module 6: Movement of energy
Biosphere-all life
Producer (also primary producer) gets energy from sun or heat directly, also known as autotroph
example: grass
Photosynthesis: CO2 + water + energy (heat or light) -> sugars (CHO)
Reverse process is respiration: Sugars + O2 -> energy + CO2 + water

Anaerobic respiration (e.g. bacteria) don't use O2, less efficient, older primitive source of energy (pre-oxygen)
Consumer (heterotroph) consumes other primary autotrophs
Primary consumers eat plants (e.g. herbivores)
Secondary consumers eat them (carnivores)
Tertiary consumers eat other carnivores (algae->zooplankton->fish->eagles)
Trophe = "nourishment"
Trophic levels = food levels, see also food web
Scavenger-eats dead stuff
Detritovore-eats dead stuff that is decaying
Decomposers-break down into basic elements
GPP gross primary productivity= Total amount of solar energy into the system: like gross income in a business
e.g. all of the money coming into your business
NPP net primary productivity = GPP minus respiration (think of Maui onions):
gross income-expenses=net income
Biomass-total mass of all living things in an ecosystem-odd fact: rain forest soil is the lowest in nutrients and biomass-why?
Standing crop-total plant biomass (e.g. forest)
Efficiency is low (around 10%)
Trophic pyramid: 10x reduction in energy for each level (why?)-vegetarians vs. meat eaters
So, carnivores (us, wolves) are eating harvesting devices (cows) for autotrophs (grasses):
Not very efficient, unless you can't digest grass, or it takes too much energy to walk around all day. This IS, however a good argument for global sustainable survival, as the sun will not go away soon, and as long as we have arable (farmable) land to grow plants, we could survive with a global population of 8-10 billion.
But we'd need access to fresh water...
Recall: energy->water->food->culture

Click for full-size image

Module 7: Movement of Matter
Biogeochemical cycles: bio=life geo = minerals chemical = chemical cycle = something that rotates
Hydrologic cycle: Heat provides energy for evaporation, plants secrete water as transpiration, condensation is collection of water vapor to drops, precipitation is the falling of these drops as rain, snow, hail etc.
ETO evapotranspiration: amount of water moving through an ecosystem, usually plants.
Farmers need to know EtO to know how much water to supply to their crops.
Eto depends on sunlight, humidity, wind and temperature (think of how these impact transpiration)
Click for full-size image

Runoff-just like it sounds
You will need to know about "transit time" which is the time it takes rain to reach a water body after hitting the ground
Why is this crucial?
(you will see this mentioned in the Poisoned Waters video this weekend)

Carbon cycle: photosynthesis, respiration, exchange, sedimentation, burial, extraction, combustion
photosynthesis-CO2 to sugar (air to plant structures or fruits-e.g. corn)
respiration-sugar to CO2
exchange-HCO3 (carbonic acid) e.g. seawater changing pH, remember?
sedimentation-CaCO3 (seashells, limestone) most efficient long term carbon sink (solids are dense)
burial-just like it sounds, oil, coal, nat gas
extraction-mining fossil fuels
combustion-burning fossil fuels with oxygen to release CO2
Click for full-size image

Nitrogen cycle:
6 macronutrients needed by plants: N,P,K, Ca, Mg, S (sulfur becomes part of Methionine, an amino acid)
NPK from fertilizers
N is a limiting nutrient
N fixation is when you can't get Nitrogen off your mind


  1. Define N, P, K and how each impacts plants
  2. Define evapotranspiration, condensation and precipitation
  3. Which biogeochemical cycle only has a solid phase in the environment?
  4. What element replaces oxygen in chemosynthesis?

It also means bringing N2 gas from the atmosphere into the biome, biotically or abiotically (without life)
abiotic: lightning or burning fossil fuels (high temps) direct to nitrate (NO3) (that interesting smell after rainstorms)
biotic: nitrogen fixing bacteria: N2 ->NO2 ->NO3 ->NH3 ->NH4 ion (used by producers, it is aqueous)
commercial N fixation: petrochemicals to form fertilizers (NH3, anhydrous ammonia, ammonium nitrate NH4NO3, which is used in ANFO bombs)
nitrification: NH4+ ->NO2- ->NO3-
nitrite kills bacteria (used in preserving meats), but nitrate is a good plant fertilizer (ANFO bombs)
assimilation: producing amino acids and then proteins (chains of AA)
Dead stuff: mineralization or ammonification (dead fish smell: NH4+ and amines)
Vitamins = "vital amines"
denitrification: NO3- goes to N2O to N2 gas (anaerobic bacteria, swamps)
Leaching: washing N out of soil
Click for full-size image

Phosphorus cycle:
Mainly rocks, between land and water
biotic: animals uptake PO4--- (see also phosphoric acid H3PO4), turn it into bones, teeth as CaPO4, then back to soil
abiotic: phosphate sediments in ocean-> become rocks, erosion on land dissolves into watershed
Humans: phosphate detergents, fertilizers (Dead zones)
Algal bloom: PO4 -> lots of algae on surface (light) -> these die, fall to the bottom, and as they decompose, they take all O2 from the water (hypoxia)
Arsenic in bananas---why we cannot use greywater for irrigation
Click for full-size image

Ca, Mg and K: dust (Kauai dependent on Gobi desert dust for K)
Sulfur cycle:
rocks -> SO4, can become part of methionine
See also SO2 (vog, acid rain, pollution)
Click for full-size image

Here's something interesting:
Find Sulfur below:

Click for full-size image
Ok, now find Oxygen.
Hydrothermal vents use sulfur instead of oxygen for a thermal (heat) version of photosynthesis called chemosynthesis

Module 8: Response to disturbances
Recall negative feedback (stable ships, relationships): greater the disturbance, the greater the restoring force (pendulums too)
Resistance is how hard it is to move the pendulum (ecosystem) away from center
Resilience is how fast the pendulum (ecosystem) returns to normal
Biodiversity and disturbances:
This is strange stuff:
Rare disturbances = competition, so only a few species dominate
Common disturbances = only fast reproducers survive, so low biodiversity
Intermediate disturbances = highest biodiversity

Watershed: drainage basin usually leading to a large body of water (Chesapeake watershed is huge):

Click for full-size image
How do you think this impacts the water quality, phosphates, nitrates and silt in the Chesapeake bay?
Why are we not allowed above the fences behind Pu'u La'e La'e?
On Oahu, the watershed is guarded by a barbed wire fence-why?
How are the Himalayas acting as a watershed?

Poisoned waters:
Weblog page:

On campus try these:


  1. why is the soil on Kauai so poor, and how does it get its Potassium?
  2. how does the size of the Cheseapeake watershed impact eutrophication in the Chesapeake bay?
  3. what is the difference between resistance and resilience in natural systems?
  4. why do rotting fish smell so bad?

Summary notes:
  • systems are usually connected, exchange matter and/or energy
  • main energy source is our sun, or past suns (e.g. uranium)
  • feedback loops (again)
  • spheres: litho=stone, bio=living, hydro=water, atmo=above
  • geosphere: crust-mantle-core-inner core (spins, no way!)
  • plates-who thought this up? need to understand convection
  • where are oldest parts of crust? trick question
  • subduction zones, mid atlantic ridges (atlantis?)
  • eq: deep near subduction zones, shallow in transform faults
  • mid atlantic ridge: how do we know this? submarines
  • himalayas-how? matterhorn-what?
  • water cycle: evaporation and transpiration (eTO)
  • precipitation-condensation is first (condensation nuclei, e.g. vog)
  • aquifers-underground lakes, low turnover rate (pesticides) Oglalla
  • water can be ground water: aquifer, water table, water lens or surface water
  • conservation of matter (neglect E=mc2)
  • nutrient cycles: carbon, oxygen, phosphorus, nitrogen COPN
  • primary producers-photosynthesis: CO2, water and light/heat
  • create sugar as stored food, structural element
  • consumers-eat primary producers, decomposers break down waste/detritus
  • cellular respiration (flowers in hospitals) at night
  • carbon also in HCO3- ion (seawater) and CaCO3 (seashells, limestone)
  • greenhouse effect from CO2 captured as plants->oil/coal "carbon bank"
  • phosphorus: rocks and water (stone and sea), erosion, very limited supply in biosphere (Waterloo bones)
  • P only absorbed in aqueous form (aq)
  • too much = eutrophication (also nitrogen) see dead zones
  • eutrophication: too much of a good thing, when algae dies, decomposes, creates hypoxic zones
  • aerobic vs. anaerobic bacteria-wounds
  • nitrogen cycle-NPK
  • N2 to life: lightning and bacteria (N2 to ammonia NH3 then to NO2 and NO3 (plants absorb NO3)
  • denitrifying bacteria change NO2 back to N2 (gas)
  • Haber process
  • See figure 3.30-nitrogen uptake
  • golf courses-Mauna Kea, iBoat


e2 video: energy for a developing world

e2: energy for a developing world

If you have difficulty viewing the video, please hold option while clicking on the link. This will download the video to your computer

  1. Morgan Freeman or Brad Pitt?
  2. This series approaches environmental issues as an economic opportunity-how?
  3. Look up Muhammad Yunus in wikipedia-what did he do?
  4. Jeffrey Sachs says Bangladesh is called a basket case-why?
  5. What is his solution for poverty?
  6. What does Yunus say about poverty? Who created it?
  7. How is microcredit different from normal loans?
  8. Who did Grameen bank impact first?
  9. Why is energy the key to resolving poverty?
  10. Jeffrey Sachs uses the term “sine qua non”. What does this mean in this sense?
  11. What other things are needed in his vision?
  12. If you were a 17 year old woman growing up in Bangladesh, how would Grameen Shakti change your life?
  13. How would replacing kerosene lamps improve the health of women in Bangladesh?
  14. What does solar lighting also free the women for? How would this change their literacy, reproductive rights and children?
  15. What is the impact of religion on population control, economic equality and education?
  16. If you were your age and gender in Bangladesh, how would your life be different?
  17. What are the three things a woman in the video buy once she has any money?
  18. As women become technicians for Grameen Shakti, they are able to do something men cannot do-explain.
  19. When Grameen Shakti started, a 20 Watt panel (like the one in the video) cost $200. It now costs 10$. What could happen now?
  20. What is the beautiful aspect of the biogas plant in the video?
  21. The woman mentions she does not have to clean the pots-why does this impact her time more than just the washing?
  22. Tie this together with other woman cooking food, how does it enable them to have more time? What do they not have to do?
  23. What is environmental degradation, and environmental mining or predation?
  24. Bangladesh has a population of 161 million, about half of the US, in something the size of Michigan, all about 1 meter or less above sea level. What will happen to these people as global warming increases, and what would you do to solve this?
  25. “If you do not imagine, you cannot create” If you had a gazillion (lots) dollars, and could create a solution with global impact, what would it be?


Week two: energy, matter and systems


Here is the link to chapter 2 in the text:


Chapter one was on overview of what Environmental Science is all about, what your greatest challenges will be in this century (good luck), and some bits about the scientific method (and how to find witches).
The iBook coveres these as well, but in a more interactive overview.
Chapter two is all about systems, matter and energy, the subject of other courses as well: physics is all about energy and matter, chemistry is about matter, energy and reactions, and biology includes feedback loops and systems, as well as lots of gooey living stuff.
For this chapter, cause and effect will be your guide-keep these in mind.
Reading: Chapter 2 in FR text, modules 4 and 5. Module 4 is huge, so don't give up.

Module 4: Systems and matter----------
matter=takes up space and has mass (better definition: anything that has density since d = m/v)
mass=amount of matter (n.b. NOT weight, you can be weightless in orbit, but you still have mass-watch the film Gravity...)
atom: a=not, tom=cut (look up tomogram, CAT scan, or go to subway)
atom=smallest particle (known then) that cannot be cut further (we now know there are protons, neutrons, electrons, and quarks, even smaller things than these are predicted, look up string theory)

Element: recall all of your previous science courses-this is a collection of atoms that share the same identity, usually noted on the periodic table by their number of protons, NOT neutrons (e.g. isotopes) or electrons (e.g. ions)
Look at carbon 12, 13 and 14-look at the notation for each (isotopes=iso, same tope, type)
Look at sodium atom and sodium ion, note the notation for each

Why do they have certain charges? Who does every element "want" to be? Why?
Diverge here into orbitals if you like; s,p,d,f (sharp, principal, diffuse and fundamental spectral lines)

Molecules: more than one atom (H2)
Compound: more than one element (NaCl)


  1. If density = mass/volume, why is this a good definition of matter?
  2. Hydrogen can be an atom, while Hydrogen gas is a molecule. Explain
  3. What is the difference between atomic number and atomic mass?
  4. Carbon 14/12 is an isotope of Carbon 12/12. Explain

Radioactivity: unstable nucleus (usually more neutrons than protons), releases particles (often neutrons, but includes electrons as beta rays, or energy as gamma rays)
Largest and slowest radiation is alpha rays: slow Helium nuclei (2 protons, 2 neutrons, no electrons, so they are + charged)

Radiation summary: (n.b. you may see these referred to "rays" or "particles", they are the same)
alpha rays: Helium nuclei, slow, charged, stopped by your skin or paper
beta rays: fast electrons (137,000 mph), charged, stopped by foil
gamma rays: fast photons with very high energy, penetrates almost everything, stopped by lead
neutrons: can be fast (bad) or slow (thermal, useful in creating steam in nuclear power plants), goes through everything but 2 meters of concrete or lots of lead shielding

Radon gas
Biggest danger to you if you live near granite or other similar rocks (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington):
Alpha emitter, so not dangerous alone, but if breathed in, it emits alpha particles deep in your lungs, causing cancer (lung cancer and leukemia).
Second main cause of lung cancer in the US.
Much denser than air (226 grams per mole, vs. about 42 for room air) so found in basements or lower parts.
Ventilation is the solution, or not living in lower areas of a house.
Most states where this is found have laws requiring a ventilation fan system (ask someone from Alaska)

Half life: not just a boring Saturday night
Time it takes for half of whatever to decay, depends on amount left, like water leaking from a large water tank

If you are into math, this is known as a differential equation, meaning the rate is dependent on the amount left. We'll see more of this in population curves, but any time a rate is dependent on how many there are, you'll see the half life rear it's head.

Lab: M&Ms®
  1. pour at least 40 M&Ms® into a jar, close the lid and mix
  2. pour the M&Ms® out onto a plate, and count the total number
  3. remove any M&Ms® that have the logo face up
  4. count again
  5. repeat #1 above
  6. graph your results, with the X-axis as number of tests and Y-axis as number left after each removal
  7. what does the X-axis represent?
  8. what does the Y-axis represent?

Some math you will need to know:
A half life is the time it takes for half of something to go away.
In radioactivity, we use the formula: amount left = starting amount x (1/2)^n. where n is the number of half lives:

Sample problem:
Starting with 128 grams of unobtainium, which has a half life of 10 minutes, how much will be left after:
10 minutes
20 minutes
60 minutes
15 minutes (tough one, make sure you know how to use your calculator in real mode, not "hello Kitty" mode

You can also write the formula as: amount left = starting amount/2^n


  1. What is similar and/or different between U 234/92 and U 238/92?
  2. How many protons, neutrons and electrons in each?
  3. Would you expect this to be radioactive?
  4. A news announcer says:”Iodine 131 has a half life of 8 days, so it will all be gone in just 16 days”. What is wrong with this?
Bonds: (not the money kind)
Covalent: weak, think of plastic, butter or things that can melt. Electron is shared between both atoms (e.g. pilot-copilot)
examples: any twin (H2)

Ionic: strong, electron moves from one atom to another (NaCl is a good example), hard to melt, usually dissolves in water

Polar molecule: has one end more + than the other (like water, which is polar covalent-confusing!)

Surface tension: cohesion (holding hands)-think of water bugs, and the soap example

Soap makes water "wetter" by reducing surface tension between water molecules
It also has an ionic (water loving, hydrophilic) side and a covalent (water hating, hydrophobic) side, so it can carry away oils

Capillary action: cohesion and adhesion (think of adhesive)
Key to most plants...

Colligative properties (collected properties): bp (boiling point), fp (freezing point), mp (melting point, often the same as fp)
Can be influenced by other substances, e.g. antifreeze, which is ethylene glycol, an alcohol. You could use any alcohol in your car to raise the boiling point, but ethylene glycol is less flammable (yet toxic to animals) than ethanol
n.b. anything that ends in -ol is an alcohol: methanol, ethanol, butanol, propanol, etc.

You could also use salt, which is hard on the guts of car engines, but is great for melting ice on roads, or making ice cream (freezing point depression)

Water is weird stuff: as it boils, it gets less dense (e.g. steam) AND when it freezes, it gets less dense (e.g. ice)
Why is this critical for lakes in the winter?

It is also a "universal solvent" since it has pH of 7, dissolves ionics and is polar covalent. Nice to drink as well.
Fancy-pants word for this: amphoteric (both acid and base)

Acid: more Hydrogen ions free (H+)
Base: fewer Hydrogen ions free (more OH-)
Water: amphoteric (both sides): balanced H+ and OH-
Water is H-O-H or H-OH, so has a balance


  1. what is the connection between water striders, tall trees, premature babies and vaping?
  2. what is the connection between wifi, microwave ovens and dry toast?
On alcohol being used as food for alcoholics:
Ethanol is metabolized in the body into ethanoic acid also known as acetic acid. You bio folks may recognize this as one of the inputs in the TCA (citric acid or Krebs) cycle. Once a human body "learns" how to live off of ethanol (e.g. alcoholics), many of their calories come from this source. One theory uses this as a possible explanation for certain genetic predispositions towards alcohol dependence.
This is what the chemistry looks like:
C-C-OH ---> C-C-O-O-H ---->C-C-H-O
ethanol --> ethanoic acid --> ethanal
The other name for ethanal is acetaldehyde, which is the strange smell you detect coming off the breath and skin of alcohol drinkers.

Methanol takes a far more toxic path:
C-OH --->C-OOH ----> C-HO
methanol --->methanoic (formic) acid ---> formaldehyde
You might recognize the second one as the sting from fire ants, and the third as something they embalm dead bodies in...
--------back to pH------
pH: n.b. the notation, this means "potency of H+ ions" (don't misspell it)

Quick dive into pH:
pH of perfect acid is 0, which has a pOH of 14
water has pH of 7 and pOH of 7
pH of perfect base is 14, pOH is 0
pH is LOWER the stronger the acid
n.b. the pH and pOH always add to 14:
water is pH 7 and pOH 7
some acid might be pH 2 and pOH 12
some base might be pH 12 and pOH 2

Here's why:
pH is the -log10 of the [H+], so larger numbers are actually closer to zero
log10 of 1EE-14 is -14
log10 of 1EE-1 is -1
See? The negative sign in the formula makes these into positive numbers, so:
pH of acid is 1, pH of base is 14

As if that was not enough for one module...
Chemical reactions: usually involve movement of energy (light, heat), no mass is created or destroyed (conservation of matter)
melting and boiling don't count, sorry

Organic stuff (this could be an entire separate chapter-ask Ms. Anton!)
Organic=contains carbon, the base for life on our planet usually C-H or C-C bonds.
Look on the periodic table below Carbon, we could be Silicon, but we'd have to be lava creatures since the energy needed for chemical reactions would be higher.
n.b. some thermal creatures use thermosynthesis instead of photosynthesis, using sulfur instead of oxygen (look again at the periodic table)

Inorganic=either no carbon, or bound carbon (C02, like in carbon dioxide)

Proteins, fats and carbohydrates: all contain C-H-O in some combination, only proteins have N as well...
Dive deep if you dare:
CHO=carbohydrates (clever name), usually in a chain, short chains are sugars (used for fuel), longer ones are starches and can be used for structures (e.g. cellulose in plants) or pasta...
smallest: sugars, all end in -ose (glucose, sucrose) LOOK THESE UP, CHECK OUT THEIR MOLECULE SHAPE
glucose is a "monosaccharide" created by photosynthesis (next chapter)
longer chains: starches (rice, pasta) slowly digested (see diabetics, and glycemic index)
structural CHO: cellulose-little boxes with goo inside, need enzymes to break these down (cows)

Fats/lipids: same chemical structure as CHO, but built along a glycol (alcohol) backbone.
If the fats have long carbon chains with only single bonds, they are saturated (lots of Hydrogen atoms) and can hold together (e.g. animal fat)
If the long chains have double bonds and don't fit together, they melt easier (e.g. oils) and are called "unsaturated", usually better for your health.
n.b. McDonalds® got into real hot water a while ago for frying all of their stuff in "supersaturated fats". Ugh...

Proteins: complex molecules of CHO and N. Look up amino acids, note the common structure.
Now look up the amino acid methionine. What element does it contain as well? Why do rotten eggs, swamps (and Kilauea volcano) stink?

Nucleic acids: DNA and RNA (another whole chapter)


  1. What is the difference between carbohydrates, fats and proteins?
  2. How much more acidic is something with a pH 4 than one of pH 5?
  3. An element has a half-life of 30 days. If the original sample is 100 grams, how many grams will remain after 45 days?
  4. Which is more acidic: NaOH or HCl? Why?
This is what an iPhone calculator looks like:

How to do half lives:

Let's say you are given 64 grams of something with a half life of 7 days. This means every 7 days, half of what you started with goes away.
If they ask you how much is left after 21 days, you first divide 21 by 7 to get "n" the number of half lives: 3

Then you set up your calculator like this:
Amount = Starting amount (0.5)^n
Best way is to do this from right to left (backwards)
Enter 0.5
hit the xY key (just below m+)
enter n (3 in this case)
press equals
multiply all of this by your starting amount (64)
you should get 16 grams left

Try this with 128 grams and a half life of 6 days, after 42 days
You should get 18/6 = 3 = n
0.5 xy 7 = 0.125
128 x 0.125 = 16 grams

How to do pH calculations:

pH is a number between 0 (acid) and 14 (base)
pH is defined as -log10 [H+]
What this usually means is just the exponent of the [H+] concentration
[H+} of 1 ee -4 has a pH of 4
[H+} of 1 ee -6 has a pH of 6
[H+} of 1 ee -4 has a pOH of 10
pOH is just 14 - pH, so pH + pOH always = 14
On your calculator, calculate the pH of something with a hydrogen concentration of 1 ee-3
enter 1
press ee key (to the left of 1 on the calculator)
press 3
press the +/- key (above 8 on the calculator)
press log10 (left of 4 on the calculator)
change the sign from minus to plus
you should get the answer: 4

this also works for complicated numbers like [H+] = 4 ee -3: pH = 2.39

Module 5 (FINALLY!)
Energy is the ability to do work (heard that before?)
Units are joules ("jowles in England), and a few others (calories, Calories, BTU, kWh)

Power is how fast you can do the work (climbing stairs or running up stairs), so Power = work/time
Units are Watts (joules per second or j/s) among others

energy->Joules (work~amount of water)

power->Watts (how fast the work is done~flow)

KE/PE: Kinetic and potential energy

PE: chemical bonds, height, spring

KE: motion, freewheel, flowing air/water

temp: KE=1/2mv^2 (macro level)

molecular level:

KE=3/2kT, so T prop to v^2 of molecules

EMR: shorter wavelengths more energy e.g. UV, X-rays
Light is one form of EMR or electromagnetic radiation (needs no medium, so we get light from the sun through the vacuum of space)
What you need to know: EMR has higher energy with higher frequency (e.g. ultraviolet light damages DNA, infrared heat can only burn)
See visible spectrum:

Energy can be potential (ability to do work) like altitude or chemical bonds or kinetic (see Kinesias in Lysistrata), the energy of motion or heat (molecules in motion, KE = 3/2kT)
Temperature is not heat, but the average speed of the molecules...
Temp in the upper atmosphere is 900°C but you'd freeze there, as there is no atmosphere to conduct the heat to you.
Interesting fact: Concorde passengers could not touch the windows, not because they were too cold from the altitude, but too hot from the air friction of the plane going 2x the speed of sound.

Thermodynamics (heat in motion)
Laws: Physics version
1. you can't win (no such thing as more than 100% efficiency)
2. you can't break even (not even 100% is possible, there is always a "heat tax" on every reaction)
3. you can't get out of the game (all reactions tend towards disorder, the "heat death" of the universe, or ∆S>0 for the universe)

Chemical version:

  1. energy cannot be created or destroyed
  2. energy can move, but always at a cost (entropy, disorder increases, ∆S>0 universe)

Efficiency is the amount you get out of any energy reaction, divided by the amount that went in, always less than 100%
efficiency; never 100%, 30-60% common
Human 35% eff, diesel engine 60%

Energy "quality" is the degree of organization of the energy (sugar molecules vs. heat coming from your body, or well organized gasoline "octane" molecules breaking into heat, CO2 and H2O)

Entropy: degree of disorder in any system, all reactions tend towards more disorder (e.g. your closet or bedroom-tell this to your parents)
energy quality-entropy, disorder, e.g. closet ∆S>0, takes energy input to reduce S (entropy)

System dynamics----- (had enough yet?)
Open system: stuff comes in, goes out, e.g. energy
Closed system: everything stays in e.g. mass
Steady state: balance of inputs and outputs (money example)
Feedback: think of the howling speakers at assembly: microphone picks up the speaker, gets louder, goes on and on: positive feedback
Positive feedback: response makes the situation stronger/unstable: capsizing ships, childbirth, bleeding to death, climate change, melting permafrost, albedo decrease in the arctic...
Negative feedback: response makes the situation more stable, tends towards recovery: stable ships at sea, sweating, good relationships


  1. Explain the difference between energy and power
  2. UV radiation will cause sunburns but infrared will not. Why?
  3. What are the 3 laws of thermodynamics?
  4. Give an example of positive and negative feedback


Week of 8.24.20

Top questions answered:

What books are we using this year?

Three of them:

  • The “frog” book by Withgott, which is only currently available on the class iPads:
  • The “bee” book, which can be found on the Apple iBooks store for you to purchase, as well as on the class iPads:
  • Friedland and Relyea “Environmental Science for the AP exam”, which is available online at Amazon as paper textbook, or for rental as a Kindle book (there are readers for mac and pc online). Since the rental for this is only currently available until 2.2021, we are posting some chapters as pdf on the server:
We may also include readings that will be posted on the physics server.

What is our homework for the weekend?
The practice questions at the end of modules 1-3 are due Sunday
The Practice exam (better known as the chapter questions) multiple choice (MC) 1-11 and free response (FR) 1,2 are due Monday.
We are easing into the homework load, which might include videos, questions and chapter readings.
Until we get the iPad supply sorted out, we'll use them in class only.

How are our quizzes and homework weighted?
Most assignments count for 8 points each, unless they take a great deal of your time, which I really respect. Tests will count for more, again depending on the degree of coverage. We will have larger exams at the end of each quarter, and a simulation exam in March, just before spring break, to see what you will want to cover before the AP exam in May.

What about labs?
I'll try to include at least one lab or hands-on activity each week. These might include little goldfish crackers, fake rabbits, and this week, a mystery about 8 countries and their global footprint.

What is the best way to take notes?
Serious studies by folks in white lab coats have determined that writing notes out on paper, then reviewing them sometime before you sleep that day is the most effective way to learn. Typing on a computer is less effective, unless you are using it to summarize your notes from the day. Reading the notes on the weblog before class is a great idea, as it is the thread of our class discussions.

Please keep the questions coming, I can only answer what you ask.
Global footprint mystery sleuthing:
1. how would you group the countries? Language? Economy? Sustainability? History? Religion? Political?
2. what cause and effect incidents can you see on the graphs?
3. surplus is green, deficit is red, over what time frame? when did/will the lines cross? when did they start?

Australia-what about the red bumps?
Pakistan-what happened in 1978?
US-what happened in 1973?
NZ-how can fishing areas increase?
Bengaladesh-what causes the bumps?
Brazil-1984, what happened?
S. Korea has two cliffs-why?
When did the UK become in deficit? Why?

Sustainability: Thinking of forever

Click for full-size image
Notice that these are not your usual "energy, food and water" items people think about.
Sustainability is living within your means.
Starbucks example...

Ecological footprint: created by Jurgen Randers and Mathis Wackernagel (both here for the opening of this famed structure)
  1. energy
  2. settlements
  3. timber
  4. food
  5. seafood
  6. carbon
  7. built up land
  8. forests
  9. cropland
  10. fisheries
What impacts your global footprint?

APES notes



  1. With energy you can move/purify water
  2. With water you can grow food
  3. With food you can maintain a culture

What is the "environment"?

Front of ship fell off-

"we towed it out into the environment"

"you mean into another environment"

Environment: Everything around us, including us

Climate change map-try this out:

Nebraska->Alberta by 2050


Your footprint:

Reducing your carbon footprint:

Notes on the texts: "frog book" on the iPads, "bee" book on your computer, Friedland and Relyea (pdf for now)

Friedland and Relyea, 3rd edition, until the text rental situation is resolved (2.21)

Note that the FR text is more detailed. The first two chapters of both this and the frog book (iBook) deal with defining environmental science, the scientific process and how APES covers many different topics. (see notes in previous class)

The FR text is divided into modules, with practice questions (PQ) at the end of each section and chapter questions (CP) at the end of each chapter. Your homework will often be the PQ during the week, and the larger CP over the weekend.

Module 1 -------------

Fracking-know what it is? Why is it controversial? How has it changed how we generate electricity in our country? At what cost? Why is this politically important? Why are the solvents they use secret? What is the impact of these solvents on water? Who developed it around 1960? What did he later put all of his money into?

Bio=life, so biotic means living, abiotic means not living (druids had a neat view on this)

How systems are defined enables us to create models of cause and effect (favorite topic of physicists and historians as well)

Module 2 ---------------

Environmental indicators: what we know and can observe that indicate the condition of a system

Ecosystem services: can be economic, direct or cascading (off shore oil for example, impacting fishing in the gulf of Mexico)

Click for full-size image

Long list. Let's go for something more digestible:

Click for full-size image

Note that biodiversity is a key indicator (why?)

These are the 5 challenges that you will deal with in this century. Knowing about them will enable you to impact change.

It's all about you.

More terms:

Genetic diversity: variation in a population (could be age distribution in our class)

Species: different in obvious ways (definitions vary on this)

Species diversity: variation of species in a habitat (age distribution in the school or elab)

Speciation: an adaptation based on stress

Evolution needs three things:

  1. some form of genetic variation
  2. some stress that favors this variation
  3. survivors have to reproduce and carry on the variation
Think of giraffes as an example:
  1. longer necks in some animals
  2. drought that kills all short neck creatures (just like in land before time)
  3. long neck animals survive to reproduce and carry on the variation
There is a theory that the background rate of mutation/speciation was much higher long ago because our atmosphere was thinner, and enabled more cosmic rays to penetrate, causing much higher rates of mutation/speciation.
Cool stuff:
In England, butterflies have adapted since 1850 to look more like soot from coal fires.
In NYC, a species of "subway mosquitoes" have been found that feed on humans in a dark, cool place

Extinction is the opposite of speciation, where species die off.
There is such a thing as a "background rate of extinction", which we have surpassed by many times
Diversity is good: think of monoculture food crops: one pest kills everything.

Food production: see Malthus and Norman Borlaug, e.g. Mexico famine

Anthopogenic (anthro=man, genic=cause) Climate change:
Greenhouse gases (see car windshield as an example)
Not too many people know we need some CO2 to keep water above freezing-think of this as we search for exoplanets...
Resource depletion is hard to grasp, but resource constraints are easier:
If we had a major tsunami here that closed airports (all near the shore) and ports, how long would we have:
water? (pumped by electricity)

Recall our first concept:

  1. With energy you can move/purify water
  2. With water you can grow food
  3. With food you can maintain a culture

Sustainability: Thinking of forever

Click for full-size image
Notice that these are not your usual "energy, food and water" items people think about.
Sustainability is living within your means.
Starbucks example...

Ecological footprint: created by Jurgen Randers and Mathis Wackernagel (both here for the opening of this famed structure)
  1. energy
  2. settlements
  3. timber
  4. food
  5. seafood
  6. carbon
  7. built up land
  8. forests
  9. cropland
  10. fisheries
What impacts your global footprint?

Module 3 -------
Next: The notorious scientific method
Look up "cold fusion"
Look up "Monty Python witch scene"

Why are lab notebooks done in pen?
What were the last words of Alfred Nobel's brother?
Why is there no Nobel prize for Mathematics?

Replication is key: if you have magic beans, and nobody can replicate your results, you are in trouble.
See also Korean claims of cloning humans (not sheep, we already did that-her name was Dolly)
Key idea: even wrong experiments are valuable: Edison: "I learned 800 ways not to make a light bulb"

Read about Chlorpyrifos, then look up Round up (glyphosate) in the recent news. Which of these do we use at HPA? Explain.

Control group is the population you don't mess with, to determine change.
Natural experiment is something you observe cause and effect from, but not by what you setup (look up Mount Pinatubo and cooling of the planet)

Frog book (iBook) chapter one: REVIEW FROM LAST CLASS----------------------------------

Ozone hole example: compare and contrast with anthropogenic climate change-why different?

Renewable vs. non-renewable resources (one politician recently tried to get nuclear energy classified as a renewable resource-it takes billions of years)

Renewable can be a forest, if used at a sustainable rate, otherwise not

Malthus again, Norman Borlaug again, and a new name: Paul Erlich (1968) "The Population Bomb"
In short: famine and conflict will arise from population growth.
In reality, it is much more complex, involving politics (e.g. Syria), economics (e.g. refugees from sub-Saharan Africa) and water rights (e.g. Palestine).
Jurgen Randers told me during the Elab opening that he thought in the next 50 years, China would invade Mongolia to the north, stating as a cause "religious instability" but the real cause would be access to water there.
If the Himalayan snowpack ceases to be a seasonal flow for the rivers of Asia, most of Western China would be in a drought, unable to produce food.
Look up flooding in the yangtze river...

Ecological Footprint again:

Tragedy of the Commons:
Garrett Hardin, UCSB (look this up)
We will duplicate this with a fishing example:
Download file "TOTCGoldfishActiv.pdf"


Notes for week one

Download file "APES notes 8.23.20.pdf"


First zoom class stuff

Please read below for first entry, as these weblogs automatically update with newest entry on the TOP.
Zoom meetings:
C period Thursday:
E period Friday:
Things we need to cover:
  1. look around-who is here with us?
  2. what made you curious about APES?
  3. what science background do you bring?
  4. what sort of laptop/device do you use?
  5. what about our textbook?
  6. myHPA and the physics server-how they fit together (see below)
  7. where do we meet for class next week?
  8. class notes-always on
  9. class iPads-next week
  10. labs: virtual and physical
  11. videos, homework, quizzes, other grade stuff-see the syllabus on myHPA
Please read the syllabus on myHPA for more detail on late work and other fascinating stuff.

I'd like to try using breakout rooms to get a finer picture of what you hope to discover this year:

alpha questions: breakout room trios if possible, 10 minutes

  1. what would you like to learn or experience this year?
  2. which of these is most interesting or matters most to you:
    1. energy
    2. climate change
    3. conservation
    4. resource issues
    5. population issues
    6. pollution
    7. habitat/biodiversity/endangered species
    8. water and air quality
    9. lesser developed countries: health, poverty, economy...
    10. social action

We'll continue with a fun exercise that you'll find from your friends that ALL science classes are doing the first few days: CER, which stands for claim-evidence-reasoning.
Here are the links:

claim-evidence-reasoning CER

monty python witch scene

Local version: minute 17 is the witch scene:

  1. what is their claim?
  2. what is their evidence?
  3. what is their reasoning?
  4. what happens next?
  5. what's wrong with this picture?

My dad is a space alien: use with the worksheet below


worksheet: homework, bring yours in with you to class next week

Download file "claim-evidence-reasoning worksheet.pdf"


APES 2020 begins!

This is our first weblog entry, including a link to the first chapter of one of our resource texts (see link below).
You can download this in several ways:
Download file "FR-3e-ch1.pdf"
Is an attached file. If you click on the little arrow, it should download to your device.
The little eye icon is a preview, letting you look at the file without downloading it.
If you are using an iPad or iPhone, you might want to enable "save to iBooks" so you can read it using that reader.
You could also add it to Goodreader if you are using that program on the iPad/iPhone.
Here is a link to the same file:
If you are challenged for a password, the username and password will be shared in class.
You can hold option and click on the link to download it to your computer, or just read it "live" online, your choice.
This server is available on campus or off campus as, also as, if the HPA network is down.
You'll find many more resources for our class here:
Check it out!


AP exam 2014

Download file "ap14_frq_environmental_science.pdf"


AP exam 2015

Free Response questions, 2015 exam:
Download file "ap15_frq_environmental_science.pdf"


Review modules

Download file "APES Review Packet_ Earth.pdf"
Download file "Wiki Module_ Renewable Energy.pdf"
Download file "APES Review - Water.pdf"
Download file "Soil - Conor.pdf"
Download file "Agriculture.pdf"
Download file "APES Cycles.pdf"
Download file "nuclear power.pdf"
Download file "forestry review.pdf"
Download file "Energy Review .pdf"
Download file "ATMOSPHERE AP REVIEW - Georgia and Gabby .pdf"
Download file "APES_ Ecosystems Review.pdf"
Download file "Population Dynamics Study Guide.pdf"
Download file "forestry review.pdf"


2016 FR practice

These are from the 2016 AP exam:
Download file "ap16_frq_environmental_science.pdf"
We'll review during our call Tuesday


FR practice

Email your answers to these by Wednesday:

Download file "apes practice exam 12.2009 FR 1.pdf"
Download file "apes practice exam 12.2009 FR2.pdf"