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Geosystems Meteorology Test


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Why is the earth's surface headed unevenly (3 reasons)
1. non uniform in composition and distribution
2. earth's tilt
3. earth's rotation, causing day and night
What factors contribute to the non-uniformity of the earth?
1. different amounts of ocean vs. continental plate
2. different levels of albedo
What is albedo and insolation
albedo- reflectance of a substance

insolation- amount of time sunlight is hitting the earth
what's the meterological equator?
place where the sun rays and the earth are at a 90 degree angle; varies over the seasons
describe the thickness and density of the atmosphere.
poles= thinner and denser

equator= thicker and less dense
how is the atmosphere classified?
temperature and composition
name the layers of the atmosphere from closest to farthest from earth by temperature
troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere
describe the temperature change in each of the four layers of atmosphere
down, up, down, up
What is the environmental lapse rate?
the rate at which the temperature decreases as altitude increases in the troposphere
name the layers of the earth by composition from closest to farthest from earth
homosophere, heterosphere
What elements are found in the homosphere?
Nitrogen, Oxygen, Argon
Explain the Hadley cell.
Describes surface winds. Surface flow is equator-ward and aloft flow is poleward.
What are Rossby waves?
The west-to-east jet streams found in the upper troposphere that goes across the US (kind of dips down at one point)
Coriolis effect?
tendency of wind to bend right in the northern hemisphere and left in the southern hemisphere. due to the earth's rotation.
Intertropical convergence zone?
ITCZ. Belt of clouds at meteorological equator. ari rises and condenses. no wind.
aka "doldrums"
Horse latitudes?
about 30 degrees latitude. air sinks. cloudless skies. very weak winds.
Name the order of the winds, plus the direction they point, from the north pole down to the equator
polar easterlies [southwest], westerlies [northeast], trade winds [southwest]
Which type of satellite is used to see clouds from space?
What does the visible light channel measure and what do white and black represent?
1. reflectivity
2. white=lots; black=little
What does the IR channel measure and what do white and black represent?
1. temperature
2. white=cold, black=warm
What are the important characteristics of water vapor?
1. polar
2. 3 natural states
3. high heat capacity
What is the process when air goes straight to ice?
What is the latent heat of melting and of evaporation, respectively?
80 cal/kg and 600 cal/kg
Which holds more water... warm or cold air?
What is the SVPP?
Saturation Vapor Pressure Point. Point of 100% relative humidity. aka "dew point." temperature dependent
What is relative humidity?
water in the air divided by water that could be in the air
What tool is used to measure humidity?
Sling psychrometer
Describe absolute humidity.
How much water a given volume can hold. AKA capacity.
Describe specific humidity.
AKA mixing ratio. mass of water in a particular mass of air.
What's an isobar?
A line of equal barametric pressure
Describe cyclonic air flow
Counter-clockwise. inwards.
Describe anti-cyclonic air flow
clockwise. outwards.
Which is greater, dry or wet adiabatic lapse rate?
What is the adiabatic lapse rate?
The rate at which cooling occurs due to a change in density as altitude increases.
What is a front?
Where there's a change between warm and cold air
What's a rain shadow?
The phenomenon where the far side of a mountain where wet air is blown over it is warmer than the temp on the near side.
Why would air be lifted?
1. orographic lifting
2. convective heating
3. convergence
4. frontal wedging
What the hay is orographic lifting?
When air is pushed up a mountain.
Which is steeper, when cold slides into warm or when warm slides into cold?
When cold slides into warm.
What's an airmass?
a HUGE bubble of air. usually about as big as 7 states. same temperature and humidity throughout (horizontally)
What are the conditions for the formation of an airmass?
1. formed over uniform areas of composition.
2. no wind.
How much snow is in 1 inch of rain?
10 in of snow!
Define stable and unstable air.
stable- adiabatic rate > environmental lapse

unstable- adiabatic rate < environmental lapse
Define conditionally unstable.
dry adiabatic rate > environmental.
wet adiabatic rate < environmental
Describe the "snow map" and the "rain map"
Snow is always frozen, but it gets warmer and then cooler as it falls.

Rain is never frozen and just gets warmer as it falls.
Describe the sleet and freezing rain "maps."
Both go from freezing to liquid to freezing, but the "bulge" for sleet is higher than the "bulge" for freezing rain.
What is rime?
The supercooled water that lines existing slowflakes.
What's a graupel?
A coated snowflake in the sky.
Explain radiation fog.
Air w/ little wind in contact w/ cold surface. as air cools, it reaches the dew point and fog is formed.
Explain advective fog.
Warm air moves over a cool surface and condenses.
Explain steam fog.
Cold air is over warm water.
How are clouds named?
Altitude and shape
Name the cloud types based on altitude.
cirrus = high level

alto = mid level
Name the characteristics of the different cloud shapes
cumulus = convective and unstable. fluffy.

stratus = condensation and stable. wispy.
What are the 2 mechanisms w/ which cloud droplets become big enough to rain?
1. collision-coalescence
2. Bergeron process
What's the Bergeron process?
When ice crystals and cloud droplets exist in the same air parcle, the ice tends to grow at the expense of the cloud droplets.

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