Consider what would happen if the following situations were to exist. Explaining why this would happen. Please answer first about what effects would happen from an atmospheric standpoint. Here are...

Consider what would happen if the following situations were to exist. Explaining why this would happen. Please answer first about what effects would happen from an atmospheric standpoint. Here are a few situations:

  • Earth’s Gravity becomes 1/6th of what it is now.
  • The Sun’s energy fails to reach Earth.
  • Air pressure is always equal.
  • The Earth has no tilt.
Expert Answers
Karyth Cara eNotes educator| Certified Educator


If gravity on Earth were to be reduced and become 1/6th of what it is now, acceleration restrictions due to gravity would be reduced and acceleration would be increased. The moon's gravity is 1/6th of Earth's gravity (5/6ths less than Earth's) and there acceleration has much less restriction due to gravity. Earth's acceleration would move closer to acceleration on the moon if Earth gravity was reduced by 1/6th of what it is now. Gravity is the weakest Earth force of the currently known four fundamental forces of physics: gravitational force, electromagnetic force, strong nuclear force that holds the nuclei together, weak nuclear force in certain types of nuclear reactions. Earth's atmosphere would spread further out away from the planet surface and closer toward space. In other words, the atmosphere would become more diffuse with less gravitational force pulling upon it resulting in a less dense gaseous atmosphere around the planet, which would reduce the life sustaining capability of Earth's atmosphere the density and composition of which is balanced for sustaining human, animal and plant life.

Solar Energy

If the Sun's solar energy failed to reach Earth, or a significantly reduced amount of it failed to reach Earth, two dramatically noticeable effects would occur: Earth's temperatures would be cooler and the certain layers of Earth's atmospheric layers would be cooler. [Earth's air is warmed by solar energy; the troposphere is warm near Earth and cooled more at the edge closer to the stratosphere, which is itself cooled until reaching the ozone layer, contained in the stratosphere, because the ozone layer absorbs UV rays that enter from the cold mesosphere (home of icy nauctilucent clouds), which itself is protected by the heated, energy absorbing thermosphere. If energy, radiated down through the layers of the atmosphere (thermosphere, mesosphere, stratosphere with ozone layer, troposphere), failed to reach Earth, temperatures on Earth would grow colder, as in previous ice ages such as in the latter half of the 17th century, and Earth's atmosphere would have temperature reductions in the hot layers, specifically the lower troposphere layer, the ozone layer, and the outer thermosphere layer. Currently, the Solar Maximum cycle, which was expected as due, is absent resulting in a quiet Sun (extremely reduced solar activity). Scientists are currently debating the effects this unexpected quiet Sun will have on Earth since a reduced level of solar energy is being generated, resulting in a reduced level of solar energy currently reaching Earth.

The drop off in activity is happening surprisingly quickly, and scientists are now watching closely to see if it will continue to plummet. ...

"If you want to go back to see when the Sun was this inactive... you've got to go back about 100 years," says Richard Harrison, head of space physics at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire.

"It's completely taken me and many other solar scientists by surprise," says Dr Lucie Green, from University College London's Mullard Space Science Laboratory.

During the latter half of the 17th Century, the Sun went through an extremely quiet phase - a period called the Maunder Minimum.

Historical records reveal that sunspots virtually disappeared during this time.

Dr Green says: "There is a very strong hint that the Sun is acting in the same way now as it did in the run-up to the Maunder Minimum." (Rebecca Morelle. "Is our Sun falling silent?" BBC World Service)

Air Pressure

Air pressure is directly related to temperature. As air pressure decreases, because the number of air molecules decreases, temperature also decreases. As air pressure increases, because the number of air molecules increases, temperature also increases. For example, in the Himalayas, air pressure is 330mbs and the temperature is 9 degrees Celsius (48 degrees Fahrenheit), while at the seacoast of the Cayman Islands, air pressure is 1000mbs and the temperature is 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) (Kid's Earth, NASA).

Earth Tilt

The Earth's rightward tilt is what produces seasons as solar energy reaches different Earth surfaces at different angles of directness resulting in different concentrations of heat. Therefore, if Earth had no tilt, there would be no variations of seasons within regions though there would be variations of temperature zones across different North and South latitudes (above and below the equatorial zero latitude). The Tropical zone would remain much like it currently is while the polar zones would be much colder because much less solar energy (sunlight) would reach them because of the direct angle of the solar rays [see images attached]. The zones between the equatorial zone and the polar zone would have constant temperatures at latitudinal surface locations. In other words, no region would have variations in seasonal temperatures though regions north and south of a given latitude would have different and constant temperatures, with temperatures growing warmer the closer the latitude moved toward the Equator and with temperatures growing cooler the further the latitude moved away from the Equator (therefore moving closer to the poles).

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