Physical Geography Exam 2 Study Guide

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stable air
air that resists vertical movement; non-buoyant
unstable air
air masses warmer than the surrounding air; buoyant
atmospheric pressure
decreases as altitude above Earth’s surface increases
device to measure atmospheric pressure
ALWAYS decreases with altitude
lines on a map connecting points of equal atmospheric pressure
exist because of the unequal heating of the Earth’s surface; named for the direction they come from
origination of wind
uneven heating of Earth’s surface creates temperature and pressure gradients; direction of wind results from pressure gradient; winds blow from high pressure to low pressure
Coriolis force
caused by earth rotation
HIGH pressure
thermal high
very cold surface conditions are often associated with high pressure at the surface
LOW pressure
thermal low
very warm surface conditions are often associated with relatively low pressure at the surface
centers of low surface atmospheric pressure
El Nino
associated with the occasional spread of warm water eastward across the Pacific towards South America
Katabatic winds
cold winds pouring downhill because of gravity
a seasonal reversal of wind that is prominent over South Asia
Santa Ana winds
winds originating from the plateau regions of Utah and Colorado
surface westerly winds on a global scale
exist because of the air flow out of the subtropical high pressure of the general circulation
heat and cool differently than than oceans, which help cause monsoons
intertropical convergence zone
migrates north and south of the Equator on a seasonal basis
hydrologic cycle
refers to the unending circulation of Earth’s water supply
air-to-surface movement
surface-to-air movement
latent heat
required to convert water to its different phases; the energy exchanged during phase change
dew point
the critical temperature at which saturation is reached
the process by which liquid water becomes water vapor; warmer temperatures evaporate more water
the process by which water vapor becomes a liquid; condensation is caused by the air temperature becoming too cold to hold to hold the water vapor that is in it
amount of water vapor in the air
relative humidity
inversely related to air temperature; describes how close the air is to saturation (does not describe actual water vapor content in air
moisture in the atmosphere
can appear in three states- solid, liquid, and a gaseous vapor
Lifting Condensation Level (LCL)
the altitude at which rising air reaches the dew point temperature
Saturated adiabatic lapse rate (SAR)
a lesser lapse rate than the dry adiabatic lapse (DAR) rate because latent heat is being released
adiabatic processes
cause cooling by decompression
rain shadow
drier zone; downward of large mountain ranges there is less precipiation
upslope (orographic)
fog on windward side of mountain
vertical development
tall, narrow, puffy (Cumuliform: Cumulus, Cumulonimbus)
A, cP
Cold, dry stable air
cold, wet, unstable air
hot, dry, unstable
warm, wet, variable stability
stationary front
no advancing air masses. neither air mass displaces the adjacent one.
mid-latitude cyclones
occur along/within the Polar Front; move within the westerly wind flows; generally flow west to east; closely associated with the Polar Front
develop from low pressure perturbations in trade-wind flows
moves along the trade winds and westerly flows; winds > 74 mph
Indian Ocean & Australia
cumulus stage
initial stage of thunderstorms
has more tornadoes than any other country
tornado alley
region of the U.S. with a high concentration of tornadoes
enhanced fujita
tornado classification
hurricane classification
the conditions which consistently existed for three decades (30 years) within a given region; takes into account the averages of precipitation and temperature
The Koppen climate classification system
based primarily upon temperature and precipitation; 5 climate groups (A, B, C, D, E)
mild midlatitude (temperate)
severe midlatitude (continental)
oxygen isotope analysis
used when studying ice cores and climate change
the proposed geologic time frame (epoch) that marks the beginning of the significant global impact of human activities on Earth
Categories: Physical Geography