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The Earth's Atmosphere

In this worksheet, students will learn about the composition of the Earth's atmosphere and how it has changed since the Earth was formed.

'The Earth's Atmosphere' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 3

Curriculum topic:  Chemistry: Earth and Atmosphere

Curriculum subtopic:  Composition of the Atmosphere

Difficulty level:  

down

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

The picture shows part of the Earth in a satellite image with the atmosphere as the illuminated blue line surrounding it.

 

 

The Earth's atmosphere contains air particles, as well as water particles form clouds. It is a layer of gases that are retained by the Earth's gravity. The atmosphere is made of several layers shown in the diagram below. The layers in the image are not to scale with the image of the Earth. Their real dimensions are labelled in the diagram.

 

 

 

It is believed that the early atmosphere was formed mainly by gases emitted by volcanic activity. These gases were carbon dioxide, ammonia, water vapour and methane. Oxygen was totally absent or very limited. When the Earth cooled down, water vapour condensed and formed the oceans.

 

Only bacteria could live in an oxygen-free environment; bacteria were the very first form of life on Earth and the first organisms that developed photosynthesis. Later on, plants further added oxygen to the atmosphere so more complex organisms evolved. 

 

The composition of the atmosphere today is shown in the diagram below:

Unfortunately, human activity is constantly altering the Earth's atmosphere with pollution. The consequences will be devastating:

  • Soot is incompletely burned carbon from burning of fossil fuels. It coats leaves, preventing sunlight to aid photosynthesis. Soot is also harmful for humans to breathe, leading to an increased risk of bronchitis and lung cancer. It mixes with snow in the Arctic areas and causes melting of the ice.
  • Combustion (burning) of fossil fuels pollutes the air with carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide. Sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen dissolve in water in clouds and form acid rain. Acid rain causes breathing problems, damage to trees and erosion of buildings. Carbon dioxide and some other gases are called greenhouse gases. They trap heat from the Sun in the atmosphere, which leads to global warming.
  • Smog is formed when smoke particles mix with fog. Smog is a major problem in large cities and damages the lungs.
  • CFCs produced by aerosols and refrigerators damage the ozone layer, which protects the Earth from ultraviolet radiation, leading to an increase in skin cancer.

What is the lowest layer of the atmosphere closest to the Earth?

troposphere

stratosphere

mesosphere

What gas was very limited or totally absent from the early Earth's atmosphere?

What was the first form of life on the early Earth?

What is the most abundant gas in the Earth's atmosphere today?

What percentage of the Earth's atmosphere does oxygen take up today?

20%

21%

22%

Tick two substances that are produced from burning.

smoke

smog

soot

sulphur

What is the main greenhouse gas?

coal dioxide

carbon dioxide

sulphur dioxide

Type two words to complete the sentence.

Sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen dissolve in water vapour in clouds and cause ______   _______.

Greenhouse gases form a layer in the Earth's atmosphere and trap heat. What does this lead to?

Write two words.

The ozone layer protects the Earth from what type of Sun radiation?

infrared

gamma

ultraviolet

  • Question 1

What is the lowest layer of the atmosphere closest to the Earth?

CORRECT ANSWER
troposphere
EDDIE SAYS
The atmosphere's layer closest to the Earth is called the troposphere.
  • Question 2

What gas was very limited or totally absent from the early Earth's atmosphere?

CORRECT ANSWER
oxygen
EDDIE SAYS
Oxygen was very limited or totally absent from the early Earth's atmosphere.
  • Question 3

What was the first form of life on the early Earth?

CORRECT ANSWER
bacteria
EDDIE SAYS
Bacteria were the first form of life on the early Earth.
  • Question 4

What is the most abundant gas in the Earth's atmosphere today?

CORRECT ANSWER
nitrogen
EDDIE SAYS
Nitrogen is the most abundant gas in the Earth's atmosphere today.
  • Question 5

What percentage of the Earth's atmosphere does oxygen take up today?

CORRECT ANSWER
21%
EDDIE SAYS
Oxygen makes up 21 per cent of the Earth's atmosphere today.
  • Question 6

Tick two substances that are produced from burning.

CORRECT ANSWER
smoke
soot
EDDIE SAYS
Burning produces soot and smoke. Smoke mixed with fog makes smog, whereas it is sulphur dioxide and not sulphur that is produced by burning fossil fuels.
  • Question 7

What is the main greenhouse gas?

CORRECT ANSWER
carbon dioxide
EDDIE SAYS
Carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse gas.
  • Question 8

Type two words to complete the sentence.

Sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen dissolve in water vapour in clouds and cause ______   _______.

CORRECT ANSWER
acid rain
EDDIE SAYS
Sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen dissolve in water vapour in clouds and cause acid rain.
  • Question 9

Greenhouse gases form a layer in the Earth's atmosphere and trap heat. What does this lead to?

Write two words.

CORRECT ANSWER
global warming
EDDIE SAYS
Greenhouse gases form a layer in the Earth's atmosphere and trap heat, which leads to global warming.
  • Question 10

The ozone layer protects the Earth from what type of Sun radiation?

CORRECT ANSWER
ultraviolet
EDDIE SAYS
The ozone layer protects the Earth from ultraviolet radiation.
---- OR ----

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