St Petersburg College the Snowball Earth Hypothesis Discussion

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  1. The roots of the snowball earth hypothesis go back almost 100 years.
    What were the earliest clues that the earth may have been completely
    covered in ice at some time in the past? (15 points)
  2. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is often called a greenhouse gas . What effect
    would decreased CO2 levels in the atmosphere have on the climate?
    Explain (15 points)
  3. A portion of all solar radiation (heat from the sun) is absorbed by
    the earth and a portion is reflected back out into space. The amount of
    solar radiation that a material reflects back out to space is called the
    albedo . Do sea-ice and continental glaciers have a higher or lower
    albedo compared to sea-water and land vegetation? What effect would
    expanding glaciers have on the amount of solar radiation that is
    absorbed by the earth? Explain. (15 points)
  4. According to the Snowball Earth hypothesis, what caused the earth to
    become completely frozen over (global glaciation)? Specifically,
    describe the plate-tectonic conditions, and the chemical and physical
    mechanisms that drove the earth into a deep-freeze. (15 points)
  5. Previous to the work of Hoffman and Schrag, many scientists thought
    that the earth would not recover (warm) from a snowball earth, if it
    ever happened. Describe Hoffman and Schrag s hypothesis of how the earth
    would have reversed the deep freeze and entered a global hothouse
    state. (15 points)
  6. Paleontologists have observed that the period directly following the
    neo-proterozoic is characterized by a huge expansion and diversification
    of life. This significant evolutionary interval is oft referred to as
    the Cambrian Explosion . According to the authors how did the snowball
    earth significantly effect, and perhaps even catalyze, the Cambrian
    Explosion? (15 points)
  7. What do you think about the Snowball Earth Hypothesis? Is it a
    reasonable hypothesis in light of the evidence uncovered so far? What
    could be an alternative hypothesis to explain the existence of so many
    glacial deposits found directly underneath (and immediately before in
    time) tropical warm ocean deposits? (10 points)

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