Meteorology What a gas?!



1.     meteorology-the study of the atmosphere


2.     weather is the condition of the air around the Earth


  3.     weather happens in the atmosphere!


  4.     atmosphere is the whole layer of air that surrounds the Earth, is 400 miles deep.


  5.     Composition of the Atmosphere is 78% nitrogen, 21% Oyxgen,  plus argon, methane, helium and about .03% carbon dioxide, & dust particles.


6.     The atmosphere is made up of 4 layers:

a.     troposphere-the lowest layer and where our weather takes place.  Air temperature drops as you get higher. Contains 75% of the atmospheric gases and 99% of the water vapor.  Is 10 km or 6 miles thick.

b.     Stratosphere-contains the ozone layer.  Air temperature starts rising as you go higher because the ozone absorbs some solar radiation.  40 km or 25 miles thick.

c.      Mesosphere-is where you might see meteors streaking through the sky.  30 km or about 20 miles thick.

d.     Thermosphere-Near the top of our atmosphere.  Spacecraft and satellites can travel here.  Contains the ionosphere which reflects radio waves back down to earth, also contains the Exosphere which is the edge of space, contains almost no air and is slowly losing some. 


  link to layers

7.  air is matter, it has mass and takes up space.

8.  mass is weight

9. cold air has less energy so molecules are  closer together, makes the air denser or thicker, so has more mass

10. warm air has more energy so molecules are moving around more, is less dense, so has less mass

11. air pressure is caused by the mass of the air

12. the sun is the source of all energy for the Earth.



13. Solar radiation is the energy released by the sun.


14.  energy from the Sun does 3 things, some is reflected back into space, some is absorbed by the atmosphere, but almost half is absorbed by land and water on the Earth’s surface.


15.  3 ways that the sun’s energy gets to Earth and how it is distributed: radiation, conduction, & convection.

this website has great demos of radiation, convection…


16. radiation is energy that travels as waves, can be absorbed or reflected.


17. Infrared rays-this is what the solar radiation changes into when it is absorbed by objects or surfaces on Earth.  It warms those objects.


 18. conduction- heat is transferred by direct contact.  Air brushes against heated objects and gets warm. 


19. convection is the transfer of energy from place to place by the motion of gas or liquid.


 20. As the atmosphere brushes across the surface of the Earth, it gets warmed up.  This heat energy gradually rises through the atmosphere and is radiated back into space. 


21.  air pressure-the force of air molecules pushing on an area.


22. barometer-an instrument that measures air pressure.


23.  heating and cooling of the air causes changes in air pressure.


24. wind is moving air.  The Sun causes the wind.  Differences in air pressure cause wind.


25.  global winds travel thousands of miles and last for weeks; caused by uneven heating  between the equator and the north and south poles.


26.  coriolis effect-global winds curve as the Earth turns beneath them


27. Cold air is heavier and produces a High pressure area


28. warm air is lighter and produces a Low pressure area


29.  humidity-the amount of water vapor in the air.


30.  relative humidity-the amount of moisture in the air compared to how much it can contain at a particular temperature.


31.  hygrometer-instrument used to measure relative humidity.


water cycle


32. air mass-large body of air that has about the same temperature and humidity throughout.


33. front-where one air mass meets and pushes aside another air mass. 


34. cold front-cold air pushes in under warm air, pushing it away, produces heavy rains and colder weather.


35. warm front-meets and overrides a cold air mass slowly warming the cold air, bring drizzly precipitation then warm weather.


 36. hydrologic or water cycle-endless process in which water evaporates from oceans and lakes, condenses into clouds and returns to the Earth as precipitation.


37. evaporation-water changing into a gas called water vapor.


38.  transpiration-plants losing water vapor to the air through leaves (plant sweatJ )


39.  condensation-water vapor cooling down enough to change into tiny droplets of water.


40.  clouds are caused by condensation.


41.  precipitation-liquid and solid forms of water falling from the sky to the ground.


42.  runoff-water from precipitation making its way back into the ocean.


43. forming precipitation-water droplets about the size of a period in a sentence start growing, must get about 100 times larger to fall.


44. dew point-the temperature at which air becomes saturated with water vapor and condensation begins.


45. condensation occurs at the dew point.


46. amount of water vapor in air affects dew point.


47. water must condense on something solid.  Dew forms on grass.


48. clouds form when water vapor condenses on dust, smoke or even salt particles from the ocean.


49. cloud shapes and sizes are affected by air movement and their composition is affected by location (altitude).

50. three main types of clouds-cirrus, cumulus, and stratus.

51. cirrus clouds form in very cold air at high altitudes, wispy looking, made of ice crystal, usually mean fair weather.

52. cumulus clouds are puffy white clouds with darker bases.  Form in daytime because of rising warm air, can keep growing until become thunderheads and cause rain.

53. stratus clouds form in layers in relative calm air.  Can be very dark and block out sun, can produce steady light precipitation.

54. fog is a stratus cloud that forms on the ground or over water.


55. nimbo or nimbus in a cloud names mean they produce rain


56. thunderhead is a cumulonimbus cloud.


57. Global wind patterns- there are three major wind bands, the trade winds, the westerlies, & the easterlies. They are separated by two major pressure zones, the doldrums and the horse latitudes.


58.  doldrums-low pressure zone of rising warm air at the equator, little or no wind.  “Garden Spot” for storms!


59.  horse latitudes-high pressure zones of sinking cold air at 30 degrees N and S of the equator. 


60.  The trade winds-blow from the east, from the Horse latitudes towards the equator, they die out close to the equator.


61.  the westerlies- blow from the west, moving from the horse latitudes toward the poles. They move storms across the U.S.


62.  The Easterlies-blow from the east.  Move from the polar regions toward the mid-latitudes where their cold air can cause stormy weather.


Hot Start: 


On your world map, label the horse latitudes, the doldrums, and the westerlies, easterlies, & trade winds.  this shows the world’s climates.  Review the winds and then show the climates.  Get students to explain what might be influencing each major climate.



63. air mass-large body of air that has similar temperature and moisture throughout; is affected by the area it is formed over.


64.  4 major air mass types-

            m-maritime forms over water, lots of humidity

            c- continental forms over land and is dry

            P- polar forms over the polar regions and is COLD

            T- tropical forms over the Tropics and is warm


65.  air masses are identified with 2 letter symbols.  First letter describes the moisture level and the second describes the temperature.


66. Draw these 8 air masses onto your map of North America.  Make a key below your map to identify each air mass.  mP =     and  cP=   do this for all 8.



67. front- the boundary between two air masses.


68. cold front-cold air pushes in under warm air, pushing it away, produces heavy rains and colder weather.


69. warm front-meets and overrides a cold air mass slowly warming the cold air, bring drizzly precipitation then warm weather.




Demo evaporation to students using alcohol swabbed on hand.

Demo condensation using metal bowl, salted ice water and the camera on overhead



Water cycle whiteboard

Draw a picture and label it showing the water cycle.


Rain Whiteboard activity

·        The teacher must design sets of eight index cards with a letter and a statement describing a step in rain formation on each card. Write or type each of the following statements and its corresponding letter on separate index cards.

·        Activity alert:  Have each student make their own set of cards, can decorate, must be able to explain the steps

A - Tiny cloud droplets collect together to form raindrops large enough to fall.
B - The Sun's rays warm the Earth.
C - Cool air is warmed and becomes less dense.
D - Air is cooled to its dew point temperature and the water vapor in the air begins to condense.
E - The Earth radiates heat which warms the air.
F - Air rising in the atmosphere expands causing lower air pressure.
G - Air that expands decreases in temperature
H - Air, which is less dense, rises.

 One set of cards per student.

·        Cards can be laminated or covered to be reused.




next discuss the different winds and lesson 2.3 in McD Lit book. Pg. 56.




When water evaporates, what does it take?  When does water condense?  I mean, what is the weather like compared to when the water probably evaporated?


HOT START! Whiteboard Wed: 

Now, will a puddle of water evaporate more quickly from a blacktop parking lot or from a light colored mud puddle?  Why do you think your answer is correct?



A given quantity of water vapor is less dense than the same quantity of air.  Briefly tell about H2O and O2 and N2.


Humidity- at 25 C, air can hold 22g of water per cubic meter.  As temp of air increases, the amount of water vapor it can hold increases.  This is due to the fact that the warmer air has more energy which keeps the particles of water vapor moving fast enough that they cannot condense into large enough droplets to fall as precipitation. 


Use flask of water and foil slivers to represent water vapor in the air.  Cool water supports few slivers, warmer water supports more slivers because it has more energy.


Show how large cubic meter is and how much 22g of water is.




Activity:  Look at sunspots with telescope.

Whiteboard:  What causes the seasons?

Whiteboard:  Explain the parts of the water cycle.

Whiteboard:  How does the air get heated?

Whiteboard:  Explain how the wind works.

Whiteboard:  What is fog and what caused it this morning?

Projects:  Students will choose a weather instrument to make.

Activity:  Learn to use the sun globes.

Activity:  Collect weather data and sunrise/set on graphs.

Computer activity:  Students will read about the Water Cycle and complete a set of questions.

Quiz Show:  Review of weather questions.

Whiteboard:  Draw and label the layers of the atmosphere.

Whiteboard:  Draw or describe land breezes and sea breezes.





Wind whiteboard activity: put these phrases in the correct order.


A - Air which is less dense, and causes lower pressure than the surrounding air, will rise.

B - The sun's rays warm the Earth.

C - Cold air is warmed and becomes less dense.

D - Cool air, which is more dense, sinks and causes an increase in air pressure.

E - The earth radiates heat and warms the surrounding air.

F - As air rises it expands and cools.


Whiteboard activity-draw a diagram showing how the atmosphere gets warm; use radiation, convection, conduction in diagram.