Shop Windows to the Universe

We now offer the Cool It! card game in our Science Store. Cool It! is the new card game from UCS that teaches kids about the choices we have when it comes to climate change.

Click on image for full size
Corel Photography

The Environment of the Earth in the Past

Calculations show that the Earth had large oceans very early in its history. During this time the Earth should have been frozen because of the weak luminosity of the sun at that time, nevertheless the fact that there was a large and vigorous ocean suggests that the Earth must have had a large and vigorous atmosphere in place to keep the surface warm. The warm early ocean of Earth was ideal for the development of life. The earliest fossils show that there was life on Earth at least 3.8 billion years ago (see the geologic record for the corresponding epochs of the Earth's history).

The atmosphere of the Earth came from, and continues to come from volcanoes, which produce a great deal of water vapor, carbon dioxide and other gases. Over the course of time the composition of the atmosphere has changed significantly. In particular, the earliest atmosphere was very rich in carbon dioxide (like present Mars and Venus). The present atmosphere is 80% Nitrogen and 20% Oxygen. It was life on Earth which was largely responsible for transforming the content of the Earth's atmosphere to its present composition.

The changes in the atmosphere, as well as the changes to the locations of the continents, have contributed to very significant changes in the climate of the Earth. The surface of the Earth has seen extremely high temperatures, as well as extremely low temperatures. Today's concern about global warming is part of a long history of Earth's variability with regard to climate.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes books on science education, ranging from evolution, classroom research, and the need for science and math literacy!

Windows to the Universe Community



You might also be interested in:

The Environment of Neptune

The air of Neptune is extremely cold, with temperatures of -270 degrees to -380 degrees. The air is made of complex molecules, the same sort of molecules that we see coming out of cars on earth in the...more

The Environment of Uranus

Uranus' atmospheric environment is one of strong gravity, high pressure, extremely cold temperatures of 50 K to 120 K (-270 degrees F to -380 degrees F). Moreover there is energy from lightning, ultraviolet...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF