Resources:   An Excellent Overview of Redox Chemistry, CH217-Redox.1.2016,  pe-pH diagrams, Arsenic in Ground Water

Carbonate Constants 2017

As in Ground water

Hug, EAWAG News 49: 18-20









Arsenic pe-pH












Homework:  Redox Homework 2016 due: 5/3/2016 – Key:  Redox, P and O2 flux in lakes 2016

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4/16/2017 – Lakes

Reading: Nutrient Cycling in Lakes

In the News:  Bubbles as a remedy for ocean acidification?

Second Exam 4/28/17:  CH217 Exam II 2016Exam II Key 2016

Homework:  Due 4/25/2017

Consider a lake of infinite horizontal dimension, a depth of 20 meters, and a thermocline at 10 meters.  The epilimnetic temperature is 25 oC.    The hypolimnetic temperature is 6oC.   Both layers are well mixed vertically.  The alkalinity of the lake is 0.10 mM.   The hypolimnion volume is 10% of the epilimnetic volume. Draw a sketch of the lake and use it to answer the questions below.

1) Calculate the equilibrium concentration of oxygen at depths of 5 and 15 meters in units of ppm and moles/liter.

2) Lakes in Maine tend to bloom when the dissolved phosphorus in the springtime is above 12 ppb (as P).   Assume that all of 12 ppb P is converted to biomass in the epilimnion.  What fraction of the epilimnetic biomass is required to reduce the oxygen in the deep water to below 1 ppm?

3) If bacterial oxidation of the deep biomass is complete, what is the phosphourus concentration in the deep water just before the fall overturn?

4) Qualitatively, will the pH of the deep water increase or decrease over the course of the summer?

Resources:  Carbonate Constants 2012, Belgrade Lakes ProjectCH217-Geochem2-2016WQI Presentation King 2016


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4/6/2017 – Water

Overview of Water Properties  – Look UP – Ice Floats

Resources:  CH217-Geochem1-2017,  CH217O2 solubilitydensity of water, density at high salinity, test your equations (view source for the code), solubility of oxygen.

Homework:   We are beginning a series of homework assignments calculating the physical and chemical properties of water.   Please create ONE Workbook with multple worksheets, one for each assignment.  You will be able to use your workbook for the next exam.  This week you will create two worksheets.

1) Calculate the density of water as a function to temperature and salinity.   Plot the density as a function of temperature for four different salinities (0 to 35 o/oo).   At what salinity will cold water no longer have a density maximum?  Assume that you have two 1 meter cube blocks of water sitting on top of each other.   The top block is 25 0C and the bottom block is 15 oC.   How much mechanical energy would be required to mix the water in both blocks?  This is the Strength of Stratification.

2) Calculate the solubility of oxygen in mg/L and micro mole/L as a function of temperature and salinity.  Plot the solubility of oxygen as a function of temperature for four different salinities (3 to 35 o/00).

Hand in each worksheet printed on a single page of paper.  Due 4/13/2017

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4/2/2017 – Acid Rain

Reading: Schwartz, S. E. Acid Deposition: Unraveling a Regional Phenomenon

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/es040686l – Surface Water Trends

Resources:  http://www.epa.gov/airtrends/index.html



CH217 Acid Rain 2017

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Reading:  Jacobs: Chapter 11 and 12.

Homework:  Due:  3/30/2017. In May 2015 I purchased a VW Golf Diesel Wagon due to the excellent performance and fuel economy (50 mph at highway speeds).   In September 2015 VW acknowledged that they cheated on the emissions test: Everything You Need to Know About the VW Diesel Emissions Scandal.   My car is producing more NOx than is allowed by EPA emission limits.   It is also producing a lot less CO2 than most other cars.   VW is required to provide a fix for the car, but everyone expects this will come with decreased  mileage and performance.    What are the environmental tradeoffs for a 2015 Turbo Diesel Golf Sportwagon assuming that I drive the car in Waterville?  Is the NOx or CO2 a greater environmental concern?


Parameters for the Model:

  • Cars in greater Waterville –  10,000.
  • Assume all cars are 2015 diesels that drive 15,000 miles per year
  • Area of Greater Waterville is 5 km x 5 km
  • Assume VW NOx emissions are 10X the legal limit for all cars
  • VW diesel fuel economy is 50 mpg diesel
  • We will use the EPA emission standard of 0.91 g/mile for NOx.
  • Assume a troposphere mixed layer height of 2 km.
  • The 2015 EPA CO2 limit is 245 g/mi (CO2 emissions)

We will focus on ozone and CO2 as the primary pollutants of concern.   How much will ozone increase in Waterville on a warm summer day, with no appreciable wind, if everyone drove a VW diesel?  Outline your calculation and assumptions in detail.  How does this compare to the environmental impact of less CO2?

Diesel HW 2016

Resources: CH217-Smog-2016

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Reading: Chapters 18, 19, 20, IPCC Reports

Homework: 1) Calculate the average global temperature of the earth if it were 20% closer and 20% further away from the sun.   2) How would this average global temperature change with increasing CO2?  3) How would doubling the volume of the deep ocean impact atmospheric CO2 concentrations?  4) Why is the global warming potential of some gases many times higher than the GWP of CO2?  – due 3/16/2017.

Resources:  Global Warming Potentials

A cool U2 plane for atmospheric Research


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Oldest microfossils suggest life thrived on Earth about 4 billion years ago


Reading: Jacobs 10: Oxone Hole

Homework:  due – 3/7/2017

  1. Using the attached ozone model ( ozone model) calculate how much faster the rate constant k4 in the Chapman mechanism needs to be to decrease stratospheric ozone by 10%.  How does Cl in the stratosphere catalyze reaction 4?
  2. Are the model results consistent with the assumptions made in class on Thursday about the steady state relationship between O and O3?
  3. Using the link (http://aura.gsfc.nasa.gov/science/feature-022207.html) as a starting point, sketch the concentrations of HNO3, HCl, CLO, and O3 (as a function of time) in the Antarctic stratosphere during the winter of 2006.  On your figure list the most significant reactions that drive the observed concentrations.    What do you predict for the residence times of each of these species?

Resources:   CH217-L5.Atms2 2017CH217-Climate-Change-2017

Past Exams:   CH 217 first hour exam 2016CH 217 first hour exam 2016 Key

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Reading: Chapter 15 and 16

In the News:   How Lead Ended Up in Flint’s Water
….  And and update on the Flint’s Water

Flux and steady state mass of P in the global ocean. Units of mass (Tg) are taragram for the global oceans. Fluxes are in units of Tg/year.

Homework:  (due 2/28) Consider the following global phosphorus cycle:

Calculate the evolution of atmospheric oxygen assuming zero oxygen in the atmosphere at time zero.  Assume that the flux of oxygen TO the atmosphere is 138 times (mole/mole) the flux of P from the surface to deep ocean and the flux of oxygen FROM the atmosphere is 138 times the flux of  P from the deep to surface ocean.   Modeling the figure above using simple finite difference approximations is tricky because the surface box needs short time steps (<100 years) and the evolution of oxygen in the atmosphere takes at least 0.6 billion years.   It would be a very long spreadsheet indeed!

An alternative is to assume that the entire ocean rapidly reaches steady state between the surface and deep reservoirs.
global oxygen fluxB
The net rate of oxygen production is F2-F3, where F2 is a small fraction of the total phosphorus added to the ocean via weathering.   Over time, net photosynthesis will increase atmospheric oxygen with 138 O2 produced per mole of P consumed.   A problem is  that the ocean can’t hold enough organic material [(CH2O)106(NH3)16PO4] to produce significant amounts of oxygen.   Significant amounts of organic material must be buried through subduction or precipitation (Prec. Flux).

Using the attached model as a guide, global oxygen flux V2, please answer the following questions:

  1. Write the coupled equations describing the formation and consumption of oxygen.  (Notice the conversion between mass of P and moles of O2).
  2. How was the pressure of O2 in the atmosphere calculated?
  3. How long does the model take to produce the current levels of oxygen?  How does this compare to figure 16-12 in your text?  Play with the fraction of biogenic P to improve the model
  4. Using table 16-1, does the simple oxygen flux model agree with the estimates for reduced carbon (organic material) abundance on the Earth?

Resources:  Jacobs, Stratospheric Ozone
Ozone FAQ
CH217-L4.Atms1 2017

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Reading: Chapter 7 and 9

Homework:  (due 2/21)   1) Using the density and depth profiles of the earth shown in figure 7-2, calculate the mass of the Earths inner core, outer core, lower mantle,upper mantle, and crust.

2) Now using data in table 7-2 on the composition of the bulk Earth, compute the total mass of the 10 most abundant elements on the earth.

3) Compare the element masses to the mass of each layer of the Earth, what does this tell us about the possible distribution of elements.   (For example, can the crust be made of iron?)

4) Compute the mass of hydrogen in the earth.  What is the maximum fraction of oxygen that could be in the form of water?

Resources:  CH217-L1-big-bang-slides B-2017CH217-L2.atmospere 2017

Berner Lasaga and Garrels 1983Berner 1997

Atmospheric Chemistry Text:  Jacob, Introduction to Atmospheric Chemistry

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Reading: Langmuir and Broeker, Chapter 1. Earth and Life as Natural Systems
Chapter 2. The Big Bang


1) Ch142 Final 2000due 2/9/2017

2) Predicting the water level in a bathtub – an example of Steady State systems:  due 2/14/2017.

Consider a simple bathtub with a faucet that adds water to the tub at a constantbathtub rate and a drain where water flows out at a rate proportional to the height of the water level.  In this exercise you will calculate the water level in the tub as a function of time, determine the steady state water level, and calculate the residence time of water in the tub.  This bathtub model is a good analogy for many dynamic environmental systems typical of the atmosphere, ocean, lakes, and living organisms. Assume that water is added to the tub from a faucet with a constant flow rate of 10 liters/minute.  The inflow rate expression is a simple zero-order process where the inflow is constant and independent of water level.

bathtub in



The outflow is proportional to the height of the water in the tub.   This is a first-order process where the higher the water level the greater the outflow rate.

bathtub out



Notice that the sign of the change in volume with time (dV/dt) is negative since water is leaving the tub.   The rate constant k will have units of (liters/minute cm) so that the product of the rate constant and water height is outflow rate (liters/minute).   From geometry we also know that the height of the water in the tub is the volume of the tub divided by the area of the tub.

When you start filling a tub the initial volume is usually zero.  Adding water increases the volume and outflow decreases the volume.

Volume = initial volume + water added – water lost down the drain  (3)

Equation 3 describes the conservation of mass (water) for the tub.  We will write similar conservation equations for may environmental systems.

If the amount of water added is greater than the water lost then the volume will increase.  As the volume increases the depth of the water in the tub will increase which will increase the outflow rate.   Eventually the outflow rate will equal the inflow rate and the bathtub fill level will reach steady state.

Steady State is reached when INFLOW = OUTFLOW.   Notice that you can set equation 1 equal to equation 2 to calculate the water height at steady state.   It is interesting to think about what steady state means.    For the bathtub, steady state water level is only “steady” when the water is running constantly into the tub.   Adding water is like adding energy to the system.   Steady state systems need energy inputs to maintain their positions.   This can be compared to the equilibrium water level of the tub which will be zero after the faucet is turned off.

The residence time of the water is the average time that a water molecule will spend in the tub.   This can be defined as the volume of water in the tub divided by the inflow or outflow rate when the system is at steady state (volume/(volume/time) = residence time).

Model Details:
Water inflow rate = 10 l/minute
Water outflow rate constant (k) = 1 (l/min cm)
Area of the tub = 10,000 cm^2
Starting water volume in tub = 0 liters
time step for the model = 0.5 minutes

1) Build and Excel model of bathtub levels as a function of time.   Use the attached YouTube video as a model for your program.

2) Try running the model with an initial volume of 0 liters, 100, and 200 liters.   How do the simulations compare?   What does this tell you about Steady State conditions?
3) Manipulate equations one and two to calculate the expected Steady State level of the bathtub and compare to the results obtained in question two.
4) Calculate the residence time of water in the bathtub at steady state.

Turn in the answers to the questions 1-4 on one piece of paper showing your model on the front of the page and your results on the back side of the page.   Don’t waste paper!


How to Build a habitable Planet – Text Resources

Lecture Slides:  CH217-L1-big-bang-2016CH217-L2.atmospere 2017, CH217-L1-big-bang-slides B-2017

Relevant Links:  Trends in Atmospheric CO2,   Carbon Cycle, WebElements


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