# Physical Geography Test Questions – Flashcards

## Unlock all answers in this set

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What is temperature?
The measure of kinetic energy
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What are the three temperature scales?
1. Celcius scale 2. Fahrenheit scale 3. Kelvin scale
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what does heat depend on?
volume, temperature, and its capacity to hold heat
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what is "air temperature"?
temperature measured a meter or two above the surface troposphere
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what is a lapse rate?
rate of change of temperature with height
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what is the average tropospheric lapse rate?
decreases 6.5c per 1000m
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what does environmental lapse rate (ELR) do with height increase
typically decreases with height
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What is an air parcel?
a theoretical bubble of air
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What two things can happen to a parcel of air temperature wise?
1. if a parcel is warmer then the environment *parcel rises *unstable air *clouds/rain 2. if a parcel is cooler than the environment *parcel sinks *stable air *clear sky
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What happens as an air parcel rises?
it expands, and work is done on the surrounding
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What happens as an air parcel sinks?
it compresses, and work is done on the parcel
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what happens to the temperature of an air parcel as the height increases?
it decreases
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what are the two lapse rates of a parcel?
1. dry adiabatic lapse rate (DALR) 2. saturated adiabatic lapse rate (SALR)
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describe DALR
1. non saturated or "dry" air parcels cool at DALR 2. dependent on gases in the atmosphere and acceleration of gravity 3. this lapse rate is a constant (10c per 1km) 4. if a parcel is lowered it will always warm up at the DALR
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Describe SALR
1. air parcels do not cool as quickly due to latent heat 2. this lapse rate is not a constant (4c per 1 km)
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describe a stable lapse rate
1. air parcel is cooler than the environment 2. parcel is now denser and heavier and then returns to its original position
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describe unstable lapse rate
1. air parcel is warmer than the environment 2. parcel is now lighter, and continues to rise
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what is dewpoint?
the atmospheric temperature below which water droplets begin to condense and dew can form
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what is the lifting condensation level?
the level where the parcel becomes saturated
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Diurnal cycle
1. sunrise net radiation becomes positive, and temperature increases 2. solar noon: max net radiation 3. late afternoon net radiation becomes negative, and temperature decreases 4. sunset net radiation is negative, so temperature continues to decrease
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annual cycle
1. spring a. net radiation becomes positive, and temperatures increase 2. autumn a. net radiation becomes negative, and temperatures decrease
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how is the spatial distribution of temperature decided?
by the length of daylight and the angle of the suns rays
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what are the land/water heating differences?
1. dry land heats and cools rapidly 2. water heats and cools slowly
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does water have a high specific heat?
yes. it takes more energy to heat or cool water because water holds onto heat
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horizontal transport through the atmosphere via wind
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describe isotherms
lines connection all points having the same temperature
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horizontal rate of temperature change over a distance
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describe wind
movement of air relative to the earths surface
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air moves from_____ to_____ pressure?
higher to lower
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describe pressure when referring to air
weight of a column of air
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speeds and directions of surface winds are determined by what three forces?
1. pressure gradient force 2. coriolis force 3. frictional force
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what are the two types of wind systems?
large and small scale
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two types of large wind scale systems
upper level winds & surface winds
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cyclones happen from____ air &____ pressure?
rising & low
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anticyclones happen from___air &_____ pressure?
sinking & high
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what is cold air drainage?
steady downward oozing of heavy, dense, cold air along steep slopes under the influence of gravity
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how is a monsoon formed?
by seasonal reversal of onshore and offshore winds
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what are ocean currents?
large scale movements of water
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what is an airmass?
A large uniform body of air that movse across the surface as an organized whole
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air mass classification
Humidity 1. m-maritime 2. c-continental temperature 1. t-tropical 2. p-polar 3. a-artic
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air mass types
1. continental tropical-cT (hot and dry 2. maritime tropical- mT (hot and moist) 3. continental polar-cP (cold and dry) 4. maritime polar-mP (cold and moist)
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two types of extreme air masses?
1. continental artic 2. maritime equatorial
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describe fronts
Zones separating two types of air masses
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what are the two main types of fronts?
cold front & warm front
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cold front
The cold air mass is replacing a warmer air mass
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warm front
The warm air mass is replacing a colder air mass
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what two things are needed for precipitation?
moisture & rising motion
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what are the four lifting mechanisms?
1. convergent lifting 2. frontal lifting 3. orographic lifting 4. convectional uplift
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convergent lifting
the forced uplift of an air pacel where low level wind converges
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frontal uplift
-caused by the collision of air masses with different temperatures/densities.
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frontal uplift-cold front
- cold front for example, if a cold air mass approaches a warmer air mass, the cold air will stay below because it is more dense. This forces the warmer air to rise rapidly
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frontal uplift-warm front
if a warm air mass approaches a cooler air mass, the warm air mass will ride up over the cooler air
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orographic lifting
the forced uplift of moving air that encounters a mountain
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convectional uplift
convection uplift is caused by atmospheric instability. Parcels rise from being warmer than the environment
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what 3 conditions form airmass thunderstorms?
1. sufficient water vapor 2. sufficient instability 3. weak winds aloft
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what are the 3 stages of the life cycle for air mass thunderstorms?
1. developing stage 2. mature stage 3. dissipating stage
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developing stage
convection occurs in an unstable environment as moist heated air rises, condensation occurs, and warms the surrounding air through latent heat
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mature stage
-updraft continues -heavy rain begins to fall producing a downdraft of cold air
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dissipation stage
downdraft dominates weakening the updraft of warm, moist air. suffocates it
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what is a squall line?
individual severe thunderstorms 1-5 miles wide become arranged in a line
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what are supercells?
individual thunderstorms that assume their own rotation
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what are 3 types of thunderstorm related phenomena?
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what does the hydrosphere do?
it encompasses the global water system
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what are the 3 physical properties of water?
solid, gas, & liquid
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define humidity
the amount of water vapor present in a column of air
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define absolute humidity
mass of water vapor per VOLUME of air
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define specific humidity
mass of water vapor per MASS of air
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define mixing ratio
mass of water vapor per mass of dry air
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what is the dew point?
the temperature at which saturation is reached
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define evapotranspiration
passage of moisture from the land surface to the atmosphere through the combined processes of evaporation and transpiration
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define clouds
visible masses of suspended, minute water droplets and/or ice crystals
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define stratus clouds
-layered appearance -fairly thin -typically cover a large region
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define nimbostatus clouds
-low level cloud -rain producing
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define cirrus clouds
-thin -whispy clouds -composed of ice crystals
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define cumulus clouds
-thick, puffy masses that often develop to great heights
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define cumulonimbus clouds
-very tall cumulus clouds -anvil shaped at the top -violent weather related
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what are 5 forms of precipitation?
1. rain 2. snow 3. sleet 4. freezing rain 5. hail
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define water balance
the measurement of inflow, outflow, and net annual surplus of deficit of water at a given location
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what are ocean currents?
large scale movements of water
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worlds oceans are divided into three zones, what are they?
1. mixed layer-75 m in depth roughly 3% of the total ocean water volume 2. thermocline-1000 m in depth 3. deep water-depths greater than 1000 m includes 97% if the total ocean water volume
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what is the single most important influence of the world ocean on the atmosphere?
it's heat-storage capacity
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what are the two types of currents?
warm current & cold current
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warm currents travel from where to where?
the tropics towards the poles
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cold currents typically travel from where to where?
from the poles towards the equator
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what 2 ways can you generate ocean currents?