IELTS® Academic Reading Practice 45

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The Atmosphere of Venus

Earth has ample water in its oceans but very little carbon dioxide in its incredibly thin atmosphere. By contrast, Venus is very dry and its thick environment is generally filled with carbon dioxide. The unique atmospheres of both Venus and Earth had been derived at least in part from gases spewed forth, or outgassed, by using volcanoes. The gases that emanate from present-day volcanoes on Earth, such as Mount Saint Helens, are predominantly water vapor, carbon dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. These gases ought to consequently have been important parts of the true atmospheres of each Venus and Earth. Much of the water on both planets is also believed to have come from influences from comets.

In fact, water probably once dominated the Venusian atmosphere. Venus and Earth are similar in dimension and mass, so Venusian volcanoes may also have outgassed as much water vapor as on Earth, and each planet would have had about the identical quantity of comets strike their surfaces. Studies of how stars evolve advocate that the early Sun used to be solely about 70 percent as luminous as it is now, so the temperature in Venus’ early environment needs to have been quite a bit lower. Thus water vapor would have been capable to liquefy and form oceans on Venus. But if water vapor and carbon dioxide were once so frequent in the atmospheres of each Earth and Venus, what became of Earth’s carbon dioxide? And what happened to the water on Venus?

The answer to the first question is that carbon dioxide is still found in abundance on Earth, but now, instead of being in the form of atmospheric carbon dioxide, it is either dissolved in the oceans or chemically bound into carbonate rocks, such as the limestone and marble that formed in the oceans. If Earth grew to become as hot as Venus, a good deal of its carbon dioxide would be boiled out of the oceans and baked out of the crust. Our planet would soon strengthen a thick, oppressive carbon dioxide atmosphere a lot like that of Venus.

To reply the query about Venus’ lack of water, we ought to return to the early records of the planet. Just as on present-day Earth, the oceans of Venus constrained the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide by means of dissolving it in the oceans and binding it in carbonate rocks. But being nearer to the Sun than Earth is, much of the liquid water on Venus would have vaporized to create a thick cowl of water vapor clouds. Since water vapor is a greenhouse gas, this humid atmosphere—perhaps denser than Earth’s present-day atmosphere, however, significantly less dense than the surroundings that envelop Venus today—would have successfully trapped heat from the Sun. At first, this would have had little effect on the oceans of Venus. Although the temperature would have climbed above 100° C, the boiling point of water at sea level on Earth, the added atmospheric pressure from water vapor would have saved the water in Venus' oceans in a liquid state.

This hot and humid kingdom of affairs might also have endured for a number of hundred million years. But as the Sun’s strength output slowly elevated over time, the temperature on Venus’ surface would eventually have risen above 374°C. Above this temperature, no matter the atmospheric pressure, Venus’ oceans would have begun to evaporate, and the introduced water vapor in the surroundings would have extended the greenhouse effect. This would have made the temperature even greater and prompted the oceans to evaporate faster, producing extra water vapor. That, in turn, would have similarly intensified the greenhouse impact and made the temperature climb higher still.

Once Venus’ oceans disappeared, so did the mechanism for disposing of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. With no oceans to dissolve it, outgassed carbon dioxide started to accumulate in the atmosphere, intensifying the greenhouse effect even more. Temperatures ultimately became excessive ample to "bake out" any carbon dioxide that used to be trapped in carbonate rocks. This liberated carbon dioxide fashioned the thick atmosphere of present-day Venus. Over time, the rising temperatures would have leveled off, solar ultraviolet radiation having broken down atmospheric water vapor molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. With all the water vapor gone, the greenhouse effect would no longer have accelerated.

Rapidly increasing temperatures did not keep the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere of early Venus low. Instead, increasing temperatures increase the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere of early Venus. Also, it was the ocean of Venus that kept the amout of CO2 in the atmosphere of early Venus low as amount of CO2 was dissolved in the ocean.



This reading practice simulates one part of the IELTS Academic Reading test. You should spend about twenty minutes on it. Read the passage and answer questions 28-40.
Questions 28-32
Complete the table using the list of words, A-J, below.
  1. low
  2. presence
  3. unstable
  4. high
  5. similar
  6. atmospheric
  7. absence
  8. stable
  9. liquid
  10. different
Present-day Venus Early Venus

1. Carbon dioxide present only in form

2. of surface water

3. essentially temperatures

1. percentage of water vapor in the atmosphere

2. an atmosphere quite to that of early Earth

Questions 33-36
Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.

Write your answers in boxes 33-36 on your answer sheet.

33. According to paragraph 1, in what major respect are Venus and Earth different from each other?

34. What is one reason for thinking that at one time, there were significant amounts of water on Venus?

35. Extremely high temperatures increased the amount of carbon dioxide in Venus’ atmosphere by ...

36. The basic reason that Venus and Earth are now so different from each other is that …

Questions 37-40
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? In boxes 37-40 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE   if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE   if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN   if there is no information on this.

37. Mount Saint Helens is a volcano which is no longer active on Earth today.

38. Comets have affected the amount of water on both Venus and Earth.

39. Rapidly increasing temperatures at ground level kept the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of early Venus relatively low.

40. The cycle of rising temperatures following an increase in greenhouse gases is known as the runaway greenhouse effect




Answer Sheet
1
N/A
2
N/A
3
N/A
4
N/A
5
N/A
6
N/A
7
N/A
8
N/A
9
N/A
10
N/A
11
N/A
12
N/A
13
N/A
14
N/A
15
N/A
16
N/A
17
N/A
18
N/A
19
N/A
20
N/A
21
N/A
22
N/A
23
N/A
24
N/A
25
N/A
26
N/A
27
N/A
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40


Reading Passage Vocabulary
The Atmosphere of Venus


Earth has ample water in its oceans but very little carbon dioxide in its incredibly thin atmosphere. By contrast, Venus is very dry and its thick environment is generally filled with carbon dioxide. The unique atmospheres of both Venus and Earth had been derived at least in part from gases spewed forth, or outgassed, by using volcanoes. The gases that emanate from present-day volcanoes on Earth, such as Mount Saint Helens, are predominantly water vapor, carbon dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. These gases ought to consequently have been important parts of the true atmospheres of each Venus and Earth. Much of the water on both planets is also believed to have come from influences from comets.

In fact, water probably once dominated the Venusian atmosphere. Venus and Earth are similar in dimension and mass, so Venusian volcanoes may also have outgassed as much water vapor as on Earth, and each planet would have had about the identical quantity of comets strike their surfaces. Studies of how stars evolve advocate that the early Sun used to be solely about 70 percent as luminous as it is now, so the temperature in Venus’ early environment needs to have been quite a bit lower. Thus water vapor would have been capable to liquefy and form oceans on Venus. But if water vapor and carbon dioxide were once so frequent in the atmospheres of each Earth and Venus, what became of Earth’s carbon dioxide? And what happened to the water on Venus?

The answer to the first question is that carbon dioxide is still found in abundance on Earth, but now, instead of being in the form of atmospheric carbon dioxide, it is either dissolved in the oceans or chemically bound into carbonate rocks, such as the limestone and marble that formed in the oceans. If Earth grew to become as hot as Venus, a good deal of its carbon dioxide would be boiled out of the oceans and baked out of the crust. Our planet would soon strengthen a thick, oppressive carbon dioxide atmosphere a lot like that of Venus.

To reply the query about Venus’ lack of water, we ought to return to the early records of the planet. Just as on present-day Earth, the oceans of Venus constrained the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide by means of dissolving it in the oceans and binding it in carbonate rocks. But being nearer to the Sun than Earth is, much of the liquid water on Venus would have vaporized to create a thick cowl of water vapor clouds. Since water vapor is a greenhouse gas, this humid atmosphere—perhaps denser than Earth’s present-day atmosphere, however, significantly less dense than the surroundings that envelop Venus today—would have successfully trapped heat from the Sun. At first, this would have had little effect on the oceans of Venus. Although the temperature would have climbed above 100° C, the boiling point of water at sea level on Earth, the added atmospheric pressure from water vapor would have saved the water in Venus' oceans in a liquid state.

This hot and humid kingdom of affairs might also have endured for a number of hundred million years. But as the Sun’s strength output slowly elevated over time, the temperature on Venus’ surface would eventually have risen above 374°C. Above this temperature, no matter the atmospheric pressure, Venus’ oceans would have begun to evaporate, and the introduced water vapor in the surroundings would have extended the greenhouse effect. This would have made the temperature even greater and prompted the oceans to evaporate faster, producing extra water vapor. That, in turn, would have similarly intensified the greenhouse impact and made the temperature climb higher still.

Once Venus’ oceans disappeared, so did the mechanism for disposing of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. With no oceans to dissolve it, outgassed carbon dioxide started to accumulate in the atmosphere, intensifying the greenhouse effect even more. Temperatures ultimately became excessive ample to "bake out" any carbon dioxide that used to be trapped in carbonate rocks. This liberated carbon dioxide fashioned the thick atmosphere of present-day Venus. Over time, the rising temperatures would have leveled off, solar ultraviolet radiation having broken down atmospheric water vapor molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. With all the water vapor gone, the greenhouse effect would no longer have accelerated.

Rapidly increasing temperatures did not keep the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere of early Venus low. Instead, increasing temperatures increase the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere of early Venus. Also, it was the ocean of Venus that kept the amout of CO2 in the atmosphere of early Venus low as amount of CO2 was dissolved in the ocean.
 
IELTS Academic Reading Tips for Success
These are general tips that will appear on all reading questions.

Tips to improve your reading speed
To get a high score on the IELTS reading section, you need to have a fast reading speed. To have a fast reading speed, you need to improve your vocabulary and practice dissecting sentences. One strategy to dissect a sentence is to look for the subject and verb of the sentence. Finding the subject and verb will help you better understand the main idea of said sentence. Keep in mind, a common feature of a IELTS reading passage is to join strings of ideas to form long compound sentences. This produces large chunks that students have a hard time absorbing. Do not get overwhelmed by its length, just look for the subject and verb, the rest of the ideas will flow.


Keep in mind, having a slow reading speed makes skimming or scanning a reading passage more difficult. The process of quickly skimming through a reading passage for specific keywords or main ideas is a requirement for you to employ successful reading strategies to improve your IELTS reading score. In other words, skimming and scanning are critical skills to ensure you complete all questions in the allotted time frame.
IELTS Reading Strategies
Once you can read and comprehend a passage with a rate of, at least, 220 words per minute, you'll be ready to start implementing our strategies. All too often, students spend too much time reading the passages and not enough time answering the questions. Here is a step by step guide for tackling the reading section.

  1. Step 1: Read questions first

    One of the most common mistakes that candidates make when approaching the reading exam is reading every single word of the passages. Although you can practice for the exam by reading for pleasure, "reading blindly" (reading without any sense of what the questions will ask) will not do you any favors in the exam. Instead, it will hurt your chances for effectively managing your time and getting the best score.

    The main reason to read the questions first is because the type of question may determine what you read in the passage or how you read it. For example, some question types will call for the "skimming" technique, while others may call for the "scanning" technique.

    It is important to answer a set of questions that are of the same question type. You'll need to determine which question type you want to tackle first. A good strategy would be to start with the easier question type and move on to more difficult question types later. The Easiest question types are the ones where you spend less time reading. For example, the Matching Heading question type is an easier one because you only need to find the heading that best describes the main idea of a paragraph. An example of a difficult question type would be Identifying Information. For this question type, you'll need to read each paragraph to find out if each statement is TRUE, FALSE, or NOT GIVEN according to the passage.

    Here is a table that lists the difficulty levels for each question type. Use this table as a reference when choosing which question type you want to tackle first.


    Difficulty level Question Type
    Easy Sentence Completion
    Short answer
    Medium Matching Features
    Multiple choice
    Matching Headings
    Summary, Table, Flow-Chart Completion
    Difficult Matching Sentence Endings
    Matching Information
    Identifying Information (TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN)
    Identifying Viewer's claims (YES/NO/NOT GIVEN)

  2. Step 2: Read for an objective

    After you've read the questions for the passage, you will be able to read for an objective. What does this mean? For example, if you come across a question that includes the year "1896", you can make a note of when this year comes up in the text, using it to answer the question later on. There are two reading techniques that will help you stay on track with reading for an objective. The first one, skimming, is best defined as reading fast in order to get the "gist", or general idea, or a passage. With this technique, you are not stopping for any unfamiliar words or looking for specific details. The second technique, scanning, is best defined as reading for specific information. With this technique, you are not reading for the overall gist, but rather, specific information. Notice how each of these techniques has a specific objective in mind. This will help you find information more quickly.

  3. Step 3: Take notes

    As you're reading for an objective, you should also be making notes on the margins of the passage, placing stars next to key information, or underlining things that you believe will help you answer the various questions. This will make it easier for you to check back when you are asked certain things in the questions. Choose whichever note-taking system is right for you - just make sure you do it!

  4. Step 4: Answer wisely

    After you've read the questions, read the passage, and have taken any appropriate notes, you you should have located the part of the text where you where you need to read carefully. Then just read carefully and think critically to determine the correct answer.

IELTS Reading Question Types
 
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