GEOG 202 Exam One

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all vocabulary necessary for the first exam
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1

aerosols

small solids or liquids (particulates) suspended in the air

2

permanent content of the atmosphere

constant ratio in the atmosphere, long residence time

3

nitrogen and oxygen are both examples of

examples of permanent gases in the atmosphere

4

argon

an inert gas found in the atmosphere at a nearly constant proportion of 0.9%

5

atmosphere

the gases, droplets, and particles surrounding Earth's surface

6

aurora australis

an illumination of the sky found in the high southern latitudes, which is produced as charged particles arriving from the sun interact with the upper atmosphere

7

aurora borealis

an illumination of the sky found in the high northern latitudes, which is produced as charged particles arriving from the sun interact with the upper atmosphere

8

carbon dioxide

an important variable gas in the atmosphere, made up of one atom of carbon bound to two atoms of oxygen. An important greenhouse gas.

9

Celsius scale

The temperature scale that designates 0 degrees as the freezing point and 100 degrees and the sea level boiling point of water.

10

climate

the statistical properties of the atmosphere, including measures of average conditions, variability, etc.

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climatology

the study of long-term atmospheric conditions

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condensation nuclei

small, airborne particles that enhance condensation. without condensation nuclei, condensation would occur only at a very high relative humidity (at about 200% or more), while condensation nuclei allow condensation to occur at or slightly below 100% relative humidity.

13

density

the mass of a substance per unit volume

14

dew point temperature (also called dew point)

the temperature at which saturation will occur, given sufficient cooling

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Fahrenheit scale

a temperature scale that assigns values of 32 degrees to the freezing point of water and 212 degrees to the sea level boiling point of water

16

front

a transition zone between two dissimilar air masses (that is, air masses with differing temperature, moisture, or density)

17

heterosphere

the high atmosphere (above 80km or so), where gases are not well mixed but rather are stratified according to molecular weight. Vertical motions are too weak to overcome the gravitational settling, so heavier gases are found beneath lighter gases.

18

homosphere

the lowest 80km (50mi) of the atmosphere in which the relative abundance of the permanent gases appear to be constant

19

hydrologic cycle

the perennial movement of water in its three phases between the atmosphere, Earth's surface, and groundwater

20

inversion

condition in which temperature increases with increasing altitude

21

ionosphere

region in the upper atmosphere from about 80 to 500 km (50 to 300 mi) where charged particles (ions) are relatively abundant

22

ions

electrically charged atom or group of atoms

23

isobar

a line on a weather map connecting points of equal pressure. Moving along an isobar, there is no change in pressure. The pressure gradient force acts perpendicular to isobars.

24

Kelvin scale

an absolute temperature scale, where a value of 0K implies an absence of thermal energy. The Kelvin scale assigns 100 units between the melting and sea level boiling points of water

25

kilopascal (kPa)

a unit of pressure equal to 1000 pascals or 0.1 millibars

26

mesosphere

region of the atmosphere from about 30mi to 50mi (50km to 80km), characterized bu decreasing temperature with increasing altitude

27

meteorology

the science that studies the atmosphere

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methane

an important greenhouse gas comprised of one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms, with present-day concentration of about 1.8 ppm.

29

millibar (mb)

a unit of atmospheric pressure, abbreviated as mb. Sea level pressure is about 1013mb.

30

National Weather Service

the official meteorological agency for the United States

31

nitrogen

an inert gas comprising about 78% of the atmosphere

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outgassing

the emission of volcanic gases that accompanies volcanic eruptions

33

oxygen

a reactive gas essential for life comprising about 21% of the atmosphere. has limited role in atmospheric processes.

34

ozone

molecules consisting of three oxygen atoms, most abundant in the middle or upper stratosphere

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ozone layer

the portion of the stratosphere where ozone is relatively abundant, reaching a few ppm.

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particulate

same as an aerosol

37

permanent gases

those gases whose relative abundance is constant within the homosphere

38

photodissociation

splitting of molecules into atoms or submolecules by radiation. For example, in the thermosphere, UV radiation dissociates molecular oxygen into atomic oxygen

39

photosynthesis

the growth of green plants, whereby water and carbon dioxide are converted to carbohydrate, releasing oxygen

40

pressure

force exerted per unit area

41

respiration

biological processes that combine oxygen with carbohydrate to produce energy, releasing water vapor and carbon dioxide as by-products

42

relative humidity

the measure of the amount of water vapor in the air as a fraction of the saturation, often expressed as a percentage. Because the saturation point is temperature-dependent, relative humidity depends on both the moisture content and the temperature of the air.

43

scientific method

a framework used to make scientific discoveries about the physical world

44

scientific theory

scientific hypotheses that have withstood repeated tests and have not been contradicted and are generally accepted as scientific fact

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standard atmosphere

the mean structure of the atmosphere with regard to temperature and pressure

46

station model

a plotting on weather maps for individual locations depicting current temperature, dew point, pressure, and other meteorological information

47

stratopause

upper limit of the stratosphere; the transition between the stratosphere and the mesosphere

48

stratosphere

a layer of atmosphere between about 16 and 50 km (10 and 30 mi), characterized by generally increasing temperature with increasing altitude

49

thermosphere

outermost reaches of the atmosphere, beginning at about 80 km (50 mi), characterized by increasing temperature with increasing altitude and by extremely low density

50

tropopause

upper limit of the troposphere; the transition between the troposphere and the stratosphere

51

troposphere

the lowest layer of the atmosphere, from the surface to about 16 km, characterized by generally decreasing temperatures with increasing altitude.

52

variable gases

gases present in amounts that vary greatly in abundance, either vertically, horizontally, or seasonally. Water vapor is the most abundant of these

53

water vapor

water in its gaseous phase, not to be mistaken for small water droplets. colorless and odorless, it seldom amounts to more than a few percent of the total atmospheric mass

54

weather

day-to-day conditions of the atmosphere

55

wind

the horizontal movement of air

56

aphelion

Earth's position when it is farthest from the sun (about June 3rd)

57

Arctic and Antarctic Circles

the lines of latitude 66.5 degrees North or South that mark that areas that can receive 24 hours of daylight or darkness

58

beam spreading

the process whereby a beam of radiation is distributed over a larger horizontal area as the angle of incidence departs from a vertical. reduces the intensity of radiation absorption by the surface

59

blackbody

an object or substance that is perfectly efficient at absorbing and radiating radiation. Blackbodies do not exist in nature, but represent an ideal

60

buoyancy

tendency of an air parcel to rise because it is less dense that surrounding air

61

conduction

heat transfer from molecule to molecule, without significant movement of the molecules

62

convection

heat transfer by fluid flow (movement of a gas or liquid)

63

convection zone

an internal layer of the Sun where upwelling gases carry energy from the core toward the surface

64

core

the interior of the sun, were nuclear fusion produces energy that is ultimately radiated to Earth

65

December solstice

Day of the year when the Sun is overhead at 23.5 degrees south latitude, on about December 21st. Also called the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere

66

ecliptic plane

the imaginary surface swept by Earth as it orbits the Sun

67

electromagnetic radiation

energy emitted by the virtue of an object's temperature. Radiation is unique in that it does not require a transfer medium and can travel through a vacuum. the energy transfer is accomplished by oscillations in an electric field and a magnetic field.

68

emissivity

the property of a substance or object that expresses, as a fraction or percentage, how efficient it is at emitting radiation

69

energy

the ability to do work. can be in many forms such as kinetic, potential, and chemical

70

flares

intensely hot eruptions on the solar surface

71

granules

tops of convection cells seen on the surface of the Sun, analogous to bubble on the surface of boiling water

72

graybody

bodies or substances that are not 100% efficient at absorbing or radiating energy. In reality, all bodies are graybodies

73

insolation

incoming soar radiaton

74

inverse square law

equation showing that radiation decreases with the square of the distance from the emitter

75

joule

basic unit of energy

76

June solstice

day of the year when the sun is overhead at 23.5 degrees north latitude, on or about June 21st. Also called the summer solstice in the Northern hemisphere

77

kinetic energy

energy of motion

78

longwave radiation

another term for infrared radiation. this is the radiation that Earth emits

79

March equinox

one of two days every year when the sun is overhead at the equator, on or about March 21st. Also called the spring equinox in the Northern hemisphere

80

nuclear fusion

the thermonuclear process in which extreme heat and pressure cause atoms to combine, forming a different (heavier) element. a small part of the original mass is converted to tremendous quantities of energy and released to the environment

81

perihelion

earth's closest approach to the Sun (about January 3rd)

82

photon

elementary particle responsible for EM radiation

83

photosphere

the part of the sun that emits most of the energy reaching Earth. It is the "visible" part of the sun, a layer representing about 0.05% of the solar radius

84

Polaris

the North Star

85

potential energy

energy possessed by virtue of an object's position above some reference level. potential energy is available for conversion into kinetic energy

86

power

the rate at which work is done or energy expended

87

radiation

another term fro EM radiation

88

radiation zone

layer of the sun where energy moves outward by radiation from the core to the convection zone

89

revolution

movement of earth in its annual orbit around the Sun

90

September equinox

one of two days every year in which the sun is overhead the equator, on or about September 21st. Also called the fall equinox in the Northern Hemisphere

91

shortwave radiation

EM energy having wavelengths shorter than about 4 micrometers. this is a majority of the radiation that the sun emits that reaches Earth

92

solar constant

the amount of radiation reaching the top of the atmosphere when Earth is at its average distance from the Sun. this is not a pure constant, but rises and falls with changes in solar emission

93

solar declination

the latitude of overhead sun; the place where one would go to find the sun directly overhead at noon

94

solar disk

the visible part of the Sun appearing as a circle in the sky. responsible for most radiation emitted to Earth

95

Stefan-Boltzman law

the law for blackbody emission stating that the total energy emitted over all wavelengths is proportional to the fourth power of absolute temperature

96

sunspots

magnetic storms of the sun, appearing as dark (earth-sized) spots on the photosphere

97

Tropics of Cancer or Capricorn

lines of latitude of 23.5 degrees north (cancer) and south (capricorn). these latitudes are the limits of solar declination

98

watt

the standard unit of power, with dimensions of unit energy per unit time

99

wavelength

distance between successive peaks of a wave, or successive troughs, or between any two corresponding points along the wavetrain

100

Wien's law

law for blackbody emission that states that the wavelength of maximum emission is inversely proportional to absolute temperature

101

absorption

a process in which radiation is captured by a molecule. Unlike reflection, absorption represents an energy transfer to the absorbing molecule

102

advection

horizontal transport of some atmospheric property (heat, moisture, etc.)

103

albedo

the fraction of solar radiation arriving at the surface that is reflected

104

atmospheric window

the range of wavelengths (about 8 to 12 micrometers) that are not readily absorbed by the gases of the atmosphere

105

bimetallic strip

two strips of metal bonded together. used in thermographs

106

continentality

the effect of an inland location that favors greater temperature extremes

107

cooling degree-days

an index of the amount of seasonal air conditioning required for a location. calculated by subtracting a base temperature (usually 65 degrees F) from the daily mean temperature and summing the differences. days with mean temperature below the base are ignored in the calculation

108

diffuse radiation

sunlight that is scattered downward to the surface

109

diffuse reflection/ scattering

redirection (reflection) of radiation in all directions, in contrast to specular radiation

110

direct radiation

sunlight that passes through the atmosphere without absorption or scattering

111

energy balance

the condition in which energy gains equal energy losses and temperature is unchanging

112

extraterrestrial radiation

the solar radiation incident at the top of the Earth's atmosphere

113

forced convection/mechanical turbulence

mixing of the air caused by horizontal movements (wind)

114

free convection

a mixing process due to buoyancy, when parcels of air rise because they are less dense than surrounding air

115

greenhouse effect

the result of clouds and greenhouse gases (mainly water vapor and CO2), which absorb longwave radiation and cause near-surface temperatures to be much higher than they would otherwise be

116

growing degree-days

an index for estimating when crops will have undergone enough growth the send them to the market. calculated by subtracting a base temperature for a particular crop from the daily mean temperature and summing the differences

117

heating degree-days

an index of the amount of seasonal heating required for a location.

118

International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

The agency of the World Meteorological Organization charged with assessing and disseminating current knowledge about climate change

119

inversion

condition in which temperature increases with increasing altitude

120

isotherm

a line on a weather map connecting point of equal temperature

121

laminar boundary layer

thin layer of air adjacent to the surface with very little vertical motion, a few mm thick

122

latent heat

(1) Energy present in the water vapor, used in converting water from liquid to gas. Released upon condensation. (2) Energy associated with the change of phase of a substance.

123

maximum thermometer

measures highest temperature throughout the day

124

Mie scattering

scattering of visible radiation by particulates

125

minimum thermometer

measures lowest temperature throughout a day

126

net all wave radiation (also called net radiation)

the difference between absorbed radiation and emitted radiation. includes both solar and terrestrial radiation.

127

net longwave radiation

difference between absorbed and emitted terrestrial radiation

128

nonselective scattering

scattering of radiation in which all wavelengths are scattered about equally. this type of scattering causes clouds to appear white.

129

planetary albedo

proportion of incoming solar radiation reflected by Earth, with approximate value of 30%.

130

Rayleigh scattering

the scattering of radiation by agents substantially smaller than the radiation's wavelength. in the case of the atmosphere, this applies to the scattering of visible radiation by air molecules

131

reflection

a process in which radiation arriving at a surface bounces back, without being absorbed or transmitted. reflection does not heat the reflector, because there is no net energy transfer to the surface

132

resistance thermometer

device that uses variations in electrical resistance to measure temperature

133

sensible heat

the energy contained in air that can be sensed via its temperature

134

specific heat

the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of a given mass of a given mass of a substance by a given amount

135

specular reflection

redirection of radiation (reflection) in a preferred direction, in contrast to diffuse reflection

136

Stuve diagram

a particular type of thermodynamic diagram used for plotting temperature and moisture profiles

137

thermodynamic diagram

a diagram showing the relationship between pressure, temperature, density, and water vapor content, such that characteristics of air parcels can be determined as the ascend and descend

138

thermograph

device that produces a continuous temperature record in the form of a chart

139

wind chill temperature index

an index of apparent temperature used for cold conditions that incorporates air temperature and wind speed