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Weather Systems

In this presentation you will: explore the impact of the Suns energy on Earths weather systems Next >

Introduction
The Sun is the major source of energy on Earth.

Without heat and light from the Sun, there could be no life on Earth.

As well as supporting life, the Sun also provides the energy for creating wind and ocean currents.
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Transfer of Energy
The Sun transfers energy when it transmits light and heat. There are three ways in which energy could be transmitted: Radiation transfer by electromagnetic waves. If you lay on the beach you feel the heat rays from the Sun.
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Transfer of Energy
Conduction transfer by molecules bumping into each other. Touching a hot surface will transfer heat from the surface to your hand. Convection transfer by flow of material. Hot air moves toward colder air and vice versa.
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Transfer of Energy Through Space


Space is a vacuum. Energy cannot travel by conduction or convection through a vacuum. Energy is transferred from the Sun to the Earth by radiation, because radiation can pass through a vacuum.

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Transfer of Energy Through Space


Once the Suns energy reaches Earth, it travels through different materials by conduction, convection, and radiation. It can be absorbed by any material it passes through, raising the temperature of the material as it does.
conduction

convection

radiation

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TEMPERATURE
Temperature is a measure of the

average energy of molecules Temperature scales


Fahrenheit: freezing point = 32

degrees; boiling point = 212 deg. Celsius: freezing point = 0 degrees; boiling point = 100 degrees F = 1.8 * C + 32 Kelvin: zero = point at which all motion ceases K = C + 273.16
Energy from the sun warms the

planet, which we experience as heat Dark colors absorb more radiant energy than light colors

Source: Oklahoma Climatological Survey

EFFECT OF TEMPERATURE
Increase in temp. = decrease in density
molecules push apart = fewer in a given space

The less dense fluid rises and pushes the fluid above it out of the way. As the fluid rises it transfers it energy to other molecules, cools, then

sinks back down.


Decrease in temp= increase in density The cycle continues until the system reaches a temperature that

causes a change in state (liquid -> gas)

MOISTURE
Plays a big role in the atmosphere Water vapor can be from 1-4% of total

atmospheric mass
Converting moisture between vapor

(gas), liquid (water), and solid (ice) absorbs / releases energy


Amount of moisture expressed as: Relative humidity (%): the proportion

of moisture that the air is capable of holding Dew Point (degrees): the temperature at which the air would become saturated, for a given amount of moisture

Relative Humidity

What is Air Pressure?


It is caused by the weight of all the air in

the atmosphere pressing down on Earth. It is also known as atmospheric pressure. Air pressure changes with the height and also when air warms up or cools down. Changes in air pressure cause changes in the weather.

PRESSURE

The number of molecules are greater

near the surface of the earth than at higher elevations Thus, pressure (force) decreases with elevation Half of the atmospheres molecules are below ~18,000 feet (the 500 millibar level)
Warm air is less dense than cold air Higher energy moves molecules

farther apart

Source: NOAA National Weather Service Jetst

PRESSURE
The motion of molecules creates a

force, pressure, as they strike a surface (you)


The number of molecules packed into a

volume determines its density


Often thought of as weight but not quite

the same; you weigh less on the moon than on earth because the effects of gravity are less, but you have the same density The more molecules, the more pressure At sea level, this force is about 14 pounds per square inch, or about 1 ton per square foot This force raises a column of mercury 29.92 inches

Source: NOAA National Weather Service Jetst

Differences in air pressure


Low Pressure When air rises, it leaves behind an area of lower pressure, because the upwardmoving air is not pressing down so hard on the surface. Heat causes air molecules to collide a move farther apart which results in LOW PRESSURE.

High Pressure Areas of high pressure are formed where air is sinking back down, and so pushing down harder. Cooling of air causes molecules to sink and move closer together, increasing density and weight.

Since there are

many areas of high and low pressure above the Earths surface due to uneven surface heating, it results in the movement of air

Wind
A natural phenomenon of thermal equilibrium makes air of different temperatures try to equalize (balance).

Hot air moves to try and warm the area taken up by cooler air, and cold air moves to the area taken up by warmer air.

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Wind
As the Sun radiates heat to the Earth, different surfaces absorb the heat energy in different ways.
hot side
cool side

The changing position of the Earth in relation to the Sun means that different parts of the Earth receive more heat energy than others, depending on their location, the time of day and the time of year.
As a result, the Earths surface is heated unevenly.
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Wind
The horizontal movement of air is called wind. All wind is caused by differences in air pressure which is caused by unequal heating of the Earths surface.
The greater the difference the higher the wind speed.

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Local Winds
Sea Breeze During the day, it takes longer for the water to heat up causing a high pressure area that moves inland toward the low pressure area over the hot land.

Local Winds

Land Breeze At night, because the land cools off FASTER than water, a high pressure area forms and then pushes toward the lower pressure over water.

Highs and Lows

Lows are areas of low

pressure with the lowest pressure at the center. Lows usually bring warmer, wet, cloudy weather because the air can rise and condense to form clouds.

Highs are areas of high

pressure with the highest pressure at the center. Highs bring sunnier, and dry weather because the air is unable to rise and condense to form clouds

Wind Jet Streams


Large differences in temperature will cause the air to move faster. This occurs high up in the atmosphere where the troposphere meets the stratosphere. These fast winds are known as jet streams and they continuously circle the Earth.

Mesosphere Stratosphere Troposphere

Polar jet stream

Subtropical jet stream


Subtropical jet stream Polar jet stream
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High chases Low

Air ALWAYS

moves from areas of high pressure (high density air) to low pressure forming winds.
.

High Pressure System

Air Masses

Air in motion brings with it

characteristics of its source region


These characteristics are called

an air mass
Boundaries between air masses

are called fronts

Air masses are distinguished by one of four source characteristics: 1. Polar (sometimes called Arctic) 2. Tropical 3. Continental (land regions) 4. Maritime (water regions) As air masses move, they become modified such that they show characteristics of two source regions cP = continental Polar mT = maritime Tropical

Air Masses of North America

(1)

cP and cA Continental Polar and Continental Arctic Cold (very cold in winter) and dry, stable conditions mP Maritime Polar Cool, moist and somewhat unstable. Forms in polar regions, then moves over oceans. mT Maritime Tropical Very warm and moist. Forms over the eastern Pacific and the Caribbean sea and Gulf of Mexico.

(2)

(3)

Source: NOAA National Weather Service Jetstream

(4)

cT Continental Tropical Hot, dry and unstable conditions. Forms over northern Mexico and the southwestern U.S. during the summer.

Fronts

There are four types of fronts: Warm Cold Occluded Stationary

Fronts
Fronts are the boundaries between air

masses
Fronts are defined by the characteristics of

the air mass it is replacing:


Cold front: colder air is replacing relatively

warmer air Warm front: warmer air is replacing relatively colder air Stationary front: neither air mass is moving Occluded front: a cold air mass (cold front) has overtaken a warmer air mass (warm front), lifting the warm layer aloft
Fronts are three-dimensional Their slope determines the types of clouds that form along the boundaries

Cold front
A cold front is a boundary where

a cold air mass is replacing a warm air mass. Blue triangles point in the direction of movement. Air on the warm side is lifted rapidly over cold air air rises and cools condensation begins and clouds form, heavy showers may fall Cumulus clouds are associated with cold fronts. A cold front moves faster than a warm front.

Birds-eye View

Colder air

Warmer air

Warm Front
A warm front is a

boundary between an advancing warm air mass and a retreating cold air mass. Red half circles point in the direction of motion. Warm air rises over cold air at a slant, which leads to gradual lift. Stratus, altostratus, and cirrus are associated with warm fronts.

Birds-eye View
Colder air

Warmer air

Occluded Front
An occluded front occurs

when a cold front catches up to and overtakes a warm front (because the cold front moves faster than the warm front). It is shown as a purple line with alternating purple triangles and half circles. Cirrus, altostratus, and stratus are followed by cumulus and possibly heavy showers.

Precipitation

Cool Cold

Warm

Stationary Front
A stationary front experiences very

little to no movement. Two air masses are at a stand-off, waiting for one to make a move. The wind blows parallel to the front, but in opposite directions. Difficult to predict the weather but often resembles a warm front.

Cold air mass Warm air mass

Question 1
What method is used in transferring energy from the Sun to Earth? A) Convection B) Conduction

C) Radiation

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Question 1
What method is used in transferring energy from the Sun to Earth? A) Convection B) Conduction

C) Radiation

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Ocean Currents
In a similar way, radiation from the Sun heats the oceans, creating convection currents in the water.

Warm water from the Equator moves toward the north and south poles, where the water is much colder.
Cold water from the poles moves toward the Equator.

Thermal image of the Gulf Stream off the coast of the USA

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Ocean Currents, Weather and Climate


These convection currents create warm and cold streams that influence the weather and climate of the land they pass.

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The Oceans and Climate


A warm current can cause land that it passes to have a temperate (mild) climate when it would otherwise be cold.

For example, the United Kingdom is as far north as Canada, so you may expect the two places to be equally cold in winter.

Canada

UK Canada UK North Atlantic Current

However, the warming North Atlantic current, passes the UK, causing it to have much milder winter weather than Canada. Next >

The Oceans and Climate


Ocean water has a higher specific heat capacity than land.
C temperature inland temperature C at sea

Specific heat capacity is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kg of a substance by 1 C.
Since salt water has a higher specific heat capacity than land, ocean temperatures increase and decrease more slowly than land temperatures.
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The Oceans and Climate


Coastal temperatures are influenced by ocean temperatures.

The high specific heat capacity of ocean water causes coastal land to have a milder climate than inland areas.

24 C 21 C

15 C

22 C
24 C

19 C
15 C

19 C

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The Oceans and Climate


When the oceans are heated by the Sun, warm water at the surface turns into water vapor it evaporates and becomes a gas. The vapor rises into the atmosphere, where it cools and condenses it turns back into drops of water.

clouds

Water vapor

When this happens, clouds are formed.

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The Oceans and Climate


As more and more water condenses, the clouds become heavy. The water eventually returns to Earth as rain, hail or snow.

clouds

rain

This process is part of the water cycle the movement of all water on Earth.
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The Oceans and Climate


When moist air condenses over the oceans, it could also lead to the formation of tropical storms. These storms are violent and potentially devastating. Depending on where the storm is in the world will determine what it is called. Hurricanes - Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Eastern Pacific Ocean Cyclones - Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal, Australia Typhoons - Western Pacific Ocean
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The Oceans and Climate


Changes in the ocean can cause dramatic changes to climate and weather patterns on a global scale.

For example, a small change in ocean temperature can lead to an increased number of tropical storms.
Such changes can be brought about by natural processes or man-made problems. For example, many scientists believe that global warming is caused by human activities. Next >

Question 2
Convection currents are responsible for what? A) Only wind

B) Only ocean currents C) Both wind and ocean currents


D) Neither wind nor ocean currents

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Question 2
Convection currents are responsible for what? A) Only wind

B) Only ocean currents C) Both wind and ocean currents


D) Neither wind nor ocean currents

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Question 3
'A warm current can cause the land it passes to have a temperate climate.' Is this statement true or false?

Answer True or False.

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Question 3
'A warm current can cause the land it passes to have a temperate climate.' Is this statement true or false?

Answer True or False.


True
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Question 4
What impact do oceans have on the formation of weather systems on a global scale? A) They can produce tropical storms such as hurricanes and typhoons B) They can change the climate of cold locations to be temperate C) They can cause differences in temperatures between coastal and inland regions

D) They provide the water that forms clouds


E) All of the above
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Question 4
What impact do oceans have on the formation of weather systems on a global scale? A) They can produce tropical storms such as hurricanes and typhoons B) They can change the climate of cold locations to be temperate C) They can cause differences in temperatures between coastal and inland regions

D) They provide the water that forms clouds


E) All of the above
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Summary
In this presentation you have seen:
the impact of the Suns energy on making wind

and ocean currents systems

the role of oceans in the formation of weather

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