You are on page 1of 13

Weather

Weather is over a short period of time


Constantly changing
Climate
Climate is over a long period of time
Generalized, composite of weather
Elements of weather and climate
Properties that are measured regularly
Most important elements
Temperature
Humidity
Cloudiness
Precipitation
Air pressure
Winds speed and direction
Air is a mixture of discrete gases
Major components of clean, dry air
Nitrogen (N) 78 percent
Oxygen (O2) 21 percent
Argon and other gases
Carbon dioxide (CO2) 0.0397 percent absorbs heat energy from Earth
Variable components of air
Water vapor
Up to about 4 percent of the airs volume
Forms clouds and precipitation
Absorbs heat energy from Earth
Aerosols
Tiny solid and liquid particles
Water vapor can condense on solids
Reflect sunlight
Help color sunrise and sunset
Ozone
Three atoms of oxygen (O3)
Distribution not uniform
Concentrated between 10 to 50 kilometers above the surface
Absorbs harmful UV radiation
Human activity is depleting ozone by adding chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
Pressure changes
Pressure is the weight of the air above
Average sea level pressure
Slightly more than 1000 millibars
About 14.7 pounds per square inch
Pressure decreases with altitude
One-half of the atmosphere is below 3.5 miles (5.6 km)
Ninety percent of the atmosphere is below
10 miles (16 km)

Troposphere
Bottom layer
Temperature decreases with altitude called the environmental lapse rate
6.5C per kilometer (average)
3.5F per 1000 feet (average)
Thickness varies average height is 12 km
Outer boundary is named the tropopause
Stratosphere
About 12 km to 50 km
Temperature increases at top
Outer boundary is named the stratopause
Mesosphere
About 50 km to 80 km
Temperature decreases
Outer boundary is named the mesopause
Thermosphere
No well-defined upper limit
Fraction of atmospheres mass
Gases moving at high speeds
Earth motions
Rotates on its axis
Revolves around the Sun
Seasons
Result of
Changing Sun angle
Changing length of daylight
Caused by Earths changing orientation to the Sun
Axis is inclined 23
Axis is always pointed in the same direction
Special days (Northern Hemisphere)
Summer solstice
June 2122
Suns vertical rays are located at the Tropic of Cancer (23 N latitude)
Winter solstice
December 2122
Suns vertical rays are located at the Tropic of Capricorn (23 S latitude)
Autumnal equinox
September 2223
Suns vertical rays are located at the Equator (0 latitude)
Spring (Vernal) equinox
March 2122
Suns vertical rays are located at the Equator (0 latitude)

Heat is always transferred from warmer to cooler objects


Mechanisms of heat transfer
Conduction through molecular activity
Convection
Mass movement within a substance
Usually vertical motions
Radiation (electromagnetic radiation)
Velocity: 300,000 kilometers (186,000 miles) per second in a vacuum
Mechanisms of heat transfer
Radiation (electromagnetic radiation)
Consists of different wavelengths
Gamma (very short waves)
X-rays
Ultraviolet (UV)
Visible
Infrared
Microwaves and radio waves
Mechanisms of heat transfer
Radiation (electromagnetic radiation)
Governed by basic laws
All objects, at whatever temperature, emit radiation
Hotter objects radiate more total energy per unit area than do cooler
objects
The hotter the radiating body, the shorter the wavelength of maximum
radiation
Objects that are good absorbers of radiation are good emitters as well
Incoming solar radiation
Atmosphere is largely transparent to incoming solar radiation
Atmospheric effects
Reflection albedo (percent reflected)
Scattering
Absorption
Most visible radiation reaches the surface
About 50 percent absorbed at Earths surface
Radiation from Earths surface
Earth reradiates radiation (terrestrial radiation) at the longer wavelengths
Longer wavelength terrestrial radiation is absorbed by
Carbon dioxide
Water vapor
Heating of the atmosphere is termed the greenhouse effect

Control of Temperature

Land and water


Land heats more rapidly and to higher temperatures than water
Water has high specific heat amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1
gram of a substance 1 degree Celsius
Altitude higher altitudes have lower temperatures
Geographic position
Windward coast
Leeward coast
Cloud cover and albedo
Clouds have high albedo
Clouds cool air during the day, keep heat in at night
Temperature variations
Receipt of solar radiation is the most important control

Temperature measurement
Human perception of temperature
Anything that influences the rate of heat loss from the body also influences the
sensation of temperature
Important factors are
Air temperature
Relative humidity
Wind speed
Sunshine
Heat energy

Measured in calories one calorie is the heat necessary to raise the temperature of one
gram of water one degree Celsius
Latent heat
Stored or hidden heat
Not derived from temperature change
Important in atmospheric processes
Three states of matter
Solid
Liquid
Gas
To change state, heat must be
Absorbed, or
Released
Processes
Evaporation
Liquid is changed to gas

600 calories per gram of water are added called latent heat of vaporization
Condensation
Water vapor (gas) is changed to a liquid
Heat energy is released called latent heat of condensation
Melting
Solid is changed to a liquid
80 calories per gram of water are added called latent heat of melting
Freezing
Liquid is changed to a solid
Heat is released called latent heat of fusion
Sublimation
Solid is changed directly to a gas (e.g., ice cubes shrinking in a freezer)
680 calories per gram of water are added
Deposition
Water vapor (gas) changed to a solid (e.g., frost in a freezer compartment)
Heat is released
Humidity - Amount of water vapor in the air
Saturated air is air that is filled with water vapor to capacity
Capacity is temperature dependent warm air has a much greater capacity
Water vapor adds pressure (called vapor pressure) to the air
Measuring humidity
Mixing ratio
Mass of water vapor in a unit of air compared to the remaining mass of dry air
Often measured in grams per kilogram
Relative humidity
Ratio of the airs actual water vapor content compared with the amount of
water vapor required for saturation at that temperature (and pressure)
Relative humidity
Expressed as a percent
Saturated air
Content equals capacity
Has a 100 percent relative humidity
Relative humidity can be changed in two ways
Add or subtract moisture to the air
Adding moisture raises the relative humidity
Removing moisture lowers the relative humidity
Relative humidity can be changed in two ways
Changing the air temperature
Lowering the temperature raises the relative humidity
Dew point temperature
Temperature to which a parcel of air would need to be cooled to reach saturation
Cooling the air below the dew point causes condensation

e.g., dew, fog, or cloud formation


Water vapor requires a surface on which to condense
Psychrometer compares temperatures of wet-bulb thermometer and dry-bulb thermometer
If the air is saturated (100 percent relative humidity) then both thermometers
read the same temperature
The greater the difference between the thermometer readings, the lower the
relative humidity
Hair hygrometer reads the humidity directly
Adiabatic temperature changes occur when
Air is compressed
Motion of air molecules increases
Air will warm
Descending air is compressed due to increasing air pressure
Air expands
Air will cool
Rising air will expand due to decreasing air pressure
Adiabatic rates
Dry adiabatic rate
Unsaturated air
Rising air expands and cools at 1 C per 100 meters (5.5 F per 1000 feet)
Descending air is compressed and warms at 1 C per 100 meters
Adiabatic rates
Wet adiabatic rate
Commences at condensation level
Air has reached the dew point
Condensation is occurring and latent heat is being liberated
Heat released by the condensing water reduces the rate of cooling
Rate varies from 0.5 C to 0.9 C per 100 meters
Orographic lifting
Elevated terrains act as barriers
Result can be a rainshadow desert
Frontal wedging
Cool air acts as a barrier to warm air
Fronts are part of the storm systems called middle-latitude cyclones
Convergence where the air is flowing together and rising (low pressure)
Localized convective lifting
Localized convective lifting occurs where unequal surface heating causes pockets of air
to rise because of their buoyancy
Types of stability
Stable air
Resists vertical displacement
Cooler than surrounding air

Denser than surrounding air


Wants to sink
No adiabatic cooling
Absolute stability occurs when the environmental lapse rate is less than the wet
adiabatic rate

Stable air
Often results in widespread clouds with little vertical thickness
Precipitation, if any, is light to moderate
Absolute instability
Acts like a hot air balloon
Rising air
Warmer than surrounding air
Less dense than surrounding air
Continues to rise until it reaches an altitude with the same temperature
Adiabatic cooling
Environmental lapse rate is greater than the dry adiabatic rate
Clouds are often towering
Conditional instability occurs when the atmosphere is stable for an unsaturated
parcel of air but unstable for a saturated parce
Condensation
Water vapor in the air changes to a liquid and forms dew, fog, or clouds
Water vapor requires a surface to condense on
Possible condensation surfaces on the ground can be the grass, a car window,
etc.
Possible condensation surfaces in the atmosphere are called condensation
nuclei
Dust, smoke, etc
Ocean salt crystals which serve as hygroscopic (water-seeking) nuclei
Clouds
Made of millions and millions of
Minute water droplets, or
Tiny crystals of ice
Classification based on
Form (three basic forms)
Cirrus high, white, thin
Cumulus globular cloud masses often associated with fair weather
Stratus sheets or layers that cover much of the sky
Classification based on
Height
High clouds above 6000 meters
Types include cirrus, cirrostratus, cirrocumulus
Middle clouds 2000 to 6000 meters

Types include altostratus and altocumulus


Low clouds below 2000 meters
Types include stratus, stratocumulus, and nimbostratus (nimbus means
rainy)
Classification based on
Height
Clouds of vertical development
From low to high altitudes
Called cumulonimbus
Often produce rain showers and thunderstorms
Fog
Considered an atmospheric hazard
Cloud with its base at or near the ground
Most fogs form because of
Radiation cooling, or
Movement of air over a cold surface
Types of fog
Fogs caused by cooling
Advection fog warm, moist air moves over a cool surface
Radiation fog
Earths surface cools rapidly
Forms during cool, clear, calm nights
Upslope fog
Humid air moves up a slope
Adiabatic cooling occurs
Evaporation fogs
Steam fog
Cool air moves over warm water and moisture is added to the air
Water has a steaming appearance
Frontal fog, or precipitation fog
Forms during frontal wedging when warm air is lifted over colder air
Rain evaporates to form fog
Precipitation
Cloud droplets
Less than 20 micrometers (0.02 millimeter) in diameter
Fall incredibly slow
Formation of precipitation
Bergeron process
Temperature in the cloud is below freezing
Ice crystals collect water vapor
Large snowflakes form and fall to the ground or melt during descent and fall as
rain

Formation of precipitation
Collision-coalescence process
Warm clouds
Large hygroscopic condensation nuclei
Large droplets form
Droplets collide with other droplets during their descent
Common in the tropics`
Rain and drizzle
Rain droplets have at least a 0.5 mm diameter
Drizzle droplets have less than a 0.5 mm diameter
Snow ice crystals, or aggregates of ice crystals
Sleet
Wintertime phenomenon
Small particles of ice
Occurs when
Warmer air overlies colder air
Rain freezes as it falls
Glaze, or freezing rain impact with a solid causes freezing
Hail
Hard rounded pellets
Concentric shells
Most diameters range from 1 to 5 cm
Formation
Occurs in large cumulonimbus clouds with violent up- and downdrafts
Layers of freezing rain are caught in up- and downdrafts in the cloud
Pellets fall to the ground when they become too heavy
Rime
Forms on cold surfaces
Freezing of
Supercooled fog, or
Cloud droplets
Atmospheric pressure
Force exerted by the weight of the air above
Weight of the air at sea level
14.7 pounds per square inch
1 kilogram per square centimeter
Decreases with increasing altitude
Units of measurement
Millibar (mb) standard sea-level pressure is 1013.2 mb
Inches of mercury standard sea-level pressure is 29.92 inches of mercury
Instruments for measuring
Mercury barometer

Invented by Torricelli in 1643


Uses a glass tube filled with mercury barometer
Aneroid barometer
Without liquid
Uses an expanding chamber
Barograph (continuously records the air pressure)

Wind
Horizontal movement of air
Out of areas of high pressure
Into areas of low pressure
Controls of wind
Pressure gradient force
Isobars lines of equal air pressure
Pressure gradient pressure change over distance
Coriolis effect
Apparent deflection in the wind direction due to Earths rotation
Deflection is to the right in the Northern Hemisphere and to the left in the
Southern Hemisphere
Friction
Only important near the surface
Acts to slow the airs movement
Upper air winds
Generally blow parallel to isobars called geostrophic winds
Lack of friction with surface allows higher speeds
Jet stream
River of air
High altitude
High velocity (120240) kilometers per hour
Cyclone
Associated with rising air
Center of low pressure
Often bring clouds and precipitation
Anticyclone
Associated with sinking air
A center of high pressure
Pressure increases toward the center
Cyclone
A center of low pressure
Pressure decreases toward the center
Winds associated with a cyclone
In the Northern Hemisphere
Inward (convergence)

Counterclockwise
In the Southern Hemisphere
Inward (convergence)
Clockwise

Anticyclone
Winds associated with an anticyclone
In the Northern Hemisphere
Outward (divergence)
Clockwise
In the Southern Hemisphere
Outward (divergence)
Counterclockwise
Associated with subsiding air
Usually bring fair weather
General Atmospheric Circulation
Underlying cause is unequal surface heating
On the rotating Earth there are three pairs of atmospheric cells that redistribute the heat
Equatorial low pressure zone
Rising air
Abundant precipitation
Subtropical high pressure zone
Subsiding, stable, dry air
Near 30 degrees latitude
Location of great deserts
Trade winds
Westerly winds
Subpolar low pressure zone
Warm and cool winds interact
Polar front an area of storms
Polar high pressure zone
Cold, subsiding air
Polar easterly winds
Polar front
Influence of continents
Seasonal temperature differences disrupt the
Global pressure patterns
Global wind patterns
Influence is most obvious in the Northern Hemisphere
Monsoon
Occur over continents
During warm months
Air flows onto land

Warm, moist air from the ocean


Winter months
Air flows off the land
Dry, continental air

Westerlies
Mid latitudes
Air flow is interrupted by cyclones
Cells move west to east in the Northern Hemisphere
Create anticyclonic and cyclonic flow
Paths of the cyclones and anticyclones are associated with the upper-level airflow
Local Winds
Produced from temperature differences
Small scale winds
Types
Land and sea breezes
Mountain and valley breezes
Chinook and Santa Ana winds
El Nio
A countercurrent that flows southward along the coasts of Ecuador and Peru
Warm
Usually appears during the Christmas season
Blocks upwelling of colder, nutrient-filled water, and anchovies starve from lack
of food
Strongest El Nio events on record occurred between 198283 and 199798
199798 event caused
Heavy rains in Ecuador and Peru
Ferocious storms in California
Related to large-scale atmospheric circulation
Southern Oscillation -- Pressure changed between the eastern and western
Pacific
Changes in trade winds creates a major change in the equatorial current system,
with warm water flowing eastward
Effects are highly variable depending in part on the temperatures and size of the warm
water pools
La Nia
Opposite of El Nio
Triggered by colder than average surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific
Typical La Nia winter
Blows colder than normal air over the Pacific Northwest and northern Great
Plains while warming much of the rest of the United States
Greater precipitation is expected in the Northwest

Events associated with El Nio and La Nia are now understood to have a significant influence
on the state of weather and climate almost everywhere