Climate and Weather Notes


Draw this chart:


1. atmosphere – thin layer of gases surrounding Earth; made up of nitrogen (78%), oxygen (21%), carbon dioxide, water vapor, and other gases, and dust

2. water vapor – water in its gaseous form; invisible

3. Earth’s atmosphere makes conditions on Earth suitable for living things, it traps energy from the sun keeping the Earth warm, water in liquid form and protects Earth from dangerous radiation and meteor collisions.

4. Earth’s atmosphere is divided into the following layers:

  a.  Troposphere – layer that touches the Earth’s surface, where we live, layer in which Earth’s weather happens. Is about 6-10 miles thick.

 b.  Stratosphere –second layer, directly above troposphere, contains the ozone layer which protects Earth from ultraviolet (UV) rays that can kill plants, animals and cause skin cancer in humans.

 c.  Mesosphere – third layer, this layer protects Earth’s surface from being hit by most meteoroids, which burn up from friction with the atmosphere

 d.  Thermosphere – top layer, isdivided into two layers:

      1. ionosphere – lower layer of the thermosphere which contains the ionosphere, or charged particles allowing radio waves to bounce off and auroras to occur

      2. exosphere – outer layer of thermosphere, the beginning of space.

5. Altitude, or elevation, is the distance above sea level. As altitude increases air pressure decreases, which also decreases density.

6. air pressure – the result of the weight of air pushing down on an area; measured by an instrument called a barometer

7) 14.7 pounds per square inch is how much air pressure is pressing down on us right now.

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

9. mass is weight

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

11. warm air has more energy so molecules are moving around more, is less dense, so has lessmass

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

13. meteorology-the study of the atmosphere

14. weather is the condition of the air around the Earth in a particular place at a particular time, weather is right now!

15. weather happens in the atmosphere!

16. Climate is the long term measure of the temperature  and humidity of an area, climate is history!

Weather Factors:

17.  Atmosphere gets heated by radiation, conduction, and convection.

18.  solar radiation changes into heat when it is absorbed by objects or surfaces on Earth. The land and water gets heated by radiation .  

19. conduction - heat is transferred by direct contact.  Air brushes against the heated land and water and gets warm.  

20.  convection  - the warmed air slowly rises through the atmosphere, touching and warming more air.  Cool air is falling and touches the rising warm air and gets warmed again.  

21. cold air is denser, drier, and heavier, cold air molecules are  closer together with less space for water molecules in water vapor.

21a.  Warm air is less dense and can contain more moisture, warm air rises.  Warm air molecules are more spread out, more space for water molecules.

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

23. Air pressure is the weight of air pressing on everything around it.

24. barometer-an instrument that measures air pressure.

25. Wind is moving air!!!

26. Wind is the movement of air from an area of higher pressure to an area of lower pressure.

27. All winds are caused by differences in air pressure, which are the result of unequal heating of Earth’s surface and the coriolis effect.

28. anemometer-instrument that measures wind speed

29. wind vane and wind sock-two devices that show wind direction

Draw this chart:


30. flow of air caused by the Coriolis effect and by differences in the amount of solar radiation received on Earth’s surface creates wind patterns

31.  global winds circle the Earth and are caused by uneven heating  between the equator and the north and south poles.

32.  The trade winds-blow from the east, they are close to the equator and the westerlies blow from the west, and carry the weather across the United States.

33. doldrums-name given to the air around the equator.  No wind and afternoon rains make it very difficult for sailors to travel.

34. Jet streams are narrow bands of strong winds that blow near the top of the troposphere.  Jet stream helps move winter storms across the country from the west to the east.  

35. sea breezes-during the day, land heat quicker causing the air to heat and rise.  The cool ocean air comes in to replace the warm rising land air

36. land breezes-during the night, the ocean is warmer than the land.  Air over the ocean rises and the cool air over the land goes out to sea to replace it.

Pressure, fronts, and air masses:

37.   H - Cold air is heavier and produces a High pressure area

38.   L  - warm air is lighter and produces a Low pressure area

39. The line where warm and cold air masses is called a front.

40. high pressure systems are often called cold fronts

41. low pressure systems are often called warm fronts

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

43. cold front-cold air pushes in under warm air, pushing it away, can produce heavy rains and colder weather, and strong winds. (what about this weekend?)

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

45. Oceans store an immense amount of heat energy and consequently play a crucial role in the global climate. Water vapor contains vast amounts of energy.

46. air mass-large body of air that has about the same temperature and humidity throughout; is affected by the area it is formed over.

47.  air masses are identified with 2 letter symbols.  1st letter is moisture level & 2nd letter is temperature.  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

48. Water vapor in the air is called humidity.

49.FACTOID!!! water vapor has less mass than air so the greater the humidity, the lower the air pressure.  Think about it, water vapor contains hydrogen which is lighter than air.

50. Relative humidity is the amount of water vapor that the air is holding compared with the amount that it could hold at that temperature.

51. Dew point- when the air is saturated with water vapor, it can hold no more so the water vapor begins to condense.

52. dew point changes with the amount of water vapor in the air.  

53. Clouds are condensation and form when water vapor in the atmosphere condenses and changes to tiny droplets of liquid water.

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

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

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

57. 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.

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

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

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

61. thunderhead is a cumulonimbus cloud.

62. Thunderstorms are caused by powerful up-and-down movements of air.

63. A tornado is a rapidly whirling, funnel-shaped cloud that reaches down from a storm cloud to touch Earth’s surface.

64. Hurricanes start out as tropical storms that form over the warm tropical waters near the equator.

65. The Sun's energy creates wind in Earth's atmosphere. This wind can be harnessed and used to produce power.