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  • Standard Area - TECH: Learning Standards for Technology
    (see MST standards under Previous Standard Versions)
            • Introduction - MST4.C.ES.PS2.Introduction:

              Earth may be considered a huge machine driven by two engines, one internal and one external. These heat engines convert heat energy into mechanical energy.

              Earth's external heat engine is powered primarily by solar energy and influenced by gravity. Nearly all the energy for circulating the atmosphere and oceans is supplied by the Sun. As insolation strikes the atmosphere, a small percentage is directly absorbed, especially by gases such as ozone, carbon dioxide, and water vapor. Clouds and Earth's surface reflect some energy back to space, and Earth's surface absorbs some energy. Energy is transferred between Earth's surface and the atmosphere by radiation, conduction, evaporation, and convection. Temperature variations within the atmosphere cause differences in density that cause atmospheric circulation, which is affected by Earth's rotation. The interaction of these processes results in the complex atmospheric occurrence known as weather.

              Average temperatures on Earth are the result of the total amount of insolation absorbed by Earth's surface and its atmosphere and the amount of long-wave energy radiated back into space. However, throughout geologic time, ice ages occurred in the middle latitudes. In addition, average temperatures may have been significantly warmer at times in the geologic past. This suggests that Earth had climate changes that were most likely associated with long periods of imbalances of its heat budget.

              Earth's internal heat engine is powered by heat from the decay of radioactive materials and residual heat from Earth's formation. Differences in density resulting from heat flow within Earth's interior caused the changes explained by the theory of plate tectonics: movement of the lithospheric plates; earthquakes; volcanoes; and the deformation and metamorphism of rocks during the formation of young mountains.

              Precipitation resulting from the external heat engine's weather systems supplies moisture to Earth's surface that contributes to the weathering of rocks. Running water erodes mountains that were originally uplifted by Earth's internal heat engine and transports sediments to other locations, where they are deposited and may undergo the processes that transform them into sedimentary rocks.

              Global climate is determined by the interaction of solar energy with Earth's surface and atmosphere. This energy transfer is influenced by dynamic processes such as cloud cover and Earth rotation, and the positions of mountain ranges and oceans.

              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS2.1a:
                Earth systems have internal and external sources of energy, both of which create heat.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS2.1b:
                The transfer of heat energy within the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, and Earth's interior results in the formation of regions of different densities. These density differences result in motion.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS2.1c:
                Weather patterns become evident when weather variables are observed, measured, and recorded. These variables include air temperature, air pressure, moisture (relative humidity and dewpoint), precipitation (rain, snow, hail, sleet, etc.), wind speed and direction, and cloud cover.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS2.1d:
                Weather variables are measured using instruments such as thermometers, barometers, psychrometers, precipitation gauges, anemometers, and wind vanes.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS2.1e:
                Weather variables are interrelated. For example:
                • temperature and humidity affect air pressure and probability of precipitation
                • air pressure gradient controls wind velocity
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS2.1f:
                Air temperature, dewpoint, cloud formation, and precipitation are affected by the expansion and contraction of air due to vertical atmospheric movement.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS2.1g:
                Weather variables can be represented in a variety of formats including radar and satellite images, weather maps (including station models, isobars, and fronts), atmospheric cross-sections, and computer models.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS2.1h:
                Atmospheric moisture, temperature and pressure distributions; jet streams, wind; air masses and frontal boundaries; and the movement of cyclonic systems and associated tornadoes, thunderstorms, and hurricanes occur in observable patterns. Loss of property, personal injury, and loss of life can be reduced by effective emergency preparedness.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS2.1i:
                Seasonal changes can be explained using concepts of density and heat energy. These changes include the shifting of global temperature zones, the shifting of planetary wind and ocean current patterns, the occurrence of monsoons, hurricanes, flooding, and severe weather.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS2.1j:
                Properties of Earth's internal structure (crust, mantle, inner core, and outer core) can be inferred from the analysis of the behavior of seismic waves (including velocity and refraction).
                • Analysis of seismic waves allows the determination of the location of earthquake epicenters, and the measurement of earthquake magnitude; this analysis leads to the inference that Earth's interior is composed of layers that differ in composition and states of matter.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS2.1k:
                The outward transfer of Earth's internal heat drives convective circulation in the mantle that moves the lithospheric plates comprising Earth's surface.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS2.1l:
                The lithosphere consists of separate plates that ride on the more fluid asthenosphere and move slowly in relationship to one another, creating convergent, divergent, and transform plate boundaries. These motions indicate Earth is a dynamic geologic system.
                • These plate boundaries are the sites of most earthquakes, volcanoes, and young mountain ranges.
                • Compared to continental crust, ocean crust is thinner and denser. New ocean crust continues to form at mid-ocean ridges.
                • Earthquakes and volcanoes present geologic hazards to humans. Loss of property, personal injury, and loss of life can be reduced by effective emergency preparedness.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS2.1m:
                Many processes of the rock cycle are consequences of plate dynamics. These include the production of magma (and subsequent igneous rock formation and contact metamorphism) at both subduction and rifting regions, regional metamorphism within subduction zones, and the creation of major depositional basins through down-warping of the crust.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS2.1n:
                Many of Earth's surface features such as mid-ocean ridges/rifts, trenches/subduction zones/island arcs, mountain ranges (folded, faulted, and volcanic), hot spots, and the magnetic and age patterns in surface bedrock are a consequence of forces associated with plate motion and interaction.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS2.1o:
                Plate motions have resulted in global changes in geography, climate, and the patterns of organic evolution.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS2.1p:
                Landforms are the result of the interaction of tectonic forces and the processes of weathering, erosion, and deposition.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS2.1q:
                Topographic maps represent landforms through the use of contour lines that are isolines connecting points of equal elevation. Gradients and profiles can be determined from changes in elevation over a given distance.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS2.1r:
                Climate variations, structure, and characteristics of bedrock influence the development of landscape features including mountains, plateaus, plains, valleys, ridges, escarpments, and stream drainage patterns.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS2.1s:
                Weathering is the physical and chemical breakdown of rocks at or near Earth's surface. Soils are the result of weathering and biological activity over long periods of time.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS2.1t:
                Natural agents of erosion, generally driven by gravity, remove, transport, and deposit weathered rock particles. Each agent of erosion produces distinctive changes in the material that it transports and creates characteristic surface features and landscapes. In certain erosional situations, loss of property, personal injury, and loss of life can be reduced by effective emergency preparedness.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS2.1.u:
                The natural agents of erosion include:
                • Streams (running water): Gradient, discharge, and channel shape influence a stream's velocity and the erosion and deposition of sediments. Sediments transported by streams tend to become rounded as a result of abrasion. Stream features include V-shaped valleys, deltas, flood plains, and meanders. A watershed is the area drained by a stream and its tributaries.
                • Glaciers (moving ice): Glacial erosional processes include the formation of U-shaped valleys, parallel scratches, and grooves in bedrock. Glacial features include moraines, drumlins, kettle lakes, finger lakes, and outwash plains.
                • Wave Action: Erosion and deposition cause changes in shoreline features, including beaches, sandbars, and barrier islands. Wave action rounds sediments as a result of abrasion. Waves approaching a shoreline move sand parallel to the shore within the zone of breaking waves.
                • Wind: Erosion of sediments by wind is most common in arid climates and along shorelines. Wind-generated features include dunes and sand-blasted bedrock.
                • Mass Movement: Earth materials move downslope under the influence of gravity.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS2.1.v:
                Patterns of deposition result from a loss of energy within the transporting system and are influenced by the size, shape, and density of the transported particles. Sediment deposits may be sorted or unsorted.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS2.1.w:
                Sediments of inorganic and organic origin often accumulate in depositional environments. Sedimentary rocks form when sediments are compacted and/or cemented after burial or as the result of chemical precipitation from seawater.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS2.2a:
                Insolation (solar radiation) heats Earth's surface and atmosphere unequally due to variations in:
                • the intensity caused by differences in atmospheric transparency and angle of incidence which vary with time of day, latitude, and season
                • characteristics of the materials absorbing the energy such as color, texture, transparency, state of matter, and specific heat
                • duration, which varies with seasons and latitude.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS2.2b:
                The transfer of heat energy within the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, and Earth's surface occurs as the result of radiation, convection, and conduction.
                • Heating of Earth's surface and atmosphere by the Sun drives convection within the atmosphere and oceans, producing winds and ocean currents.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS2.2c:
                A location's climate is influenced by latitude, proximity to large bodies of water, ocean currents, prevailing winds, vegetative cover, elevation, and mountain ranges.
              • Major Understandings - MST4.C.ES.PS2.2d:
                Temperature and precipitation patterns are altered by:
                • natural events such as El Nino and volcanic eruptions
                • human influences including deforestation, urbanization, and the production of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane.
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