1 Chapter 6 Atmospheric Moisture and Precipitation
2 The Hydrosphere Hydrosphere water in the earth-atmosphere atmosphere system Oceans and Salt Lakes 97.6% Ice Caps and Glaciers 1.9% (Not available for humans) 99.5% Subsurface Water (soil, groundwater) 0.5% Surface Water (rivers, freshwater lakes) 0.02% Atmosphere % If all land were flat, the oceans would cover it to a depth of 3 km If all atmospheric water were precipitated, it would cover the earth to a depth of 25 mm (1 inch) Holt, MO inches of rain in 42 minutes!
4 The Hydrosphere Over 70% of the planet is covered by water Water is unique in that it can simultaneously exist in all three states (solid, liquid, gas) at the same temperature Water is able to shift between states very easily
6 Hydrologic cycle defines the movement of water among the great global reservoirs Positive balance over land = more precipitation that evaporation Negative balance over water = more evaporation that precipitation
7 Evaporation molecules escape liquid water as water vapor Water vapor increases in air as surface water evaporates Condensation begins and water returns to the surface Water vapor molecules become liquid
8 Saturation No Evaporation Or Condensation Evaporation >> Condensation Evaporation = Condensation
9 Atmospheric Humidity Humidity the amount of water vapor in the air When saturated, warm air contains more water vapor than cold air Thus, we erroneously say that warm air can hold more water vapor than cold air So, we would expect deserts near the poles due to the cold air temperatures
10 PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE! Atmospheric Humidity
11 Atmospheric Humidity Relative Humidity the amount of water vapor in the air relative to the amount at saturation If air is saturated, we say that it has a relative humidity of 100% A relative humidity of 50% implies that the air has only half as much water vapor as it would have when saturated
12 Atmospheric Humidity Since at saturation, warm air contains more water vapor than cold air, relative humidity is inversely related to air temperature As air temperature rises and the amount of moisture in the air remains the same, the relative humidity decreases As air temperature falls and the amount of moisture in the air remains the same, the relative humidity increases
14 DAILY CYCLES IN RELATIVE HUMIDITY
15 Atmospheric Humidity Dew Point -- the temperature the air must reach for the air to become saturated. If you lower the air temperature until the relative humidity reaches 100%, you have reached the dew point. Lowering the air temperature below the dew point will result in condensation.
16 PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE! Atmospheric Humidity
18 Atmospheric Humidity Relative humidity is strongly dependent on the air temperature; the dew point is a more conservative measure of the moisture content of the air. Therefore, dew point is a better way to represent the moisture content of the air.
19 Atmospheric Humidity Relative humidity is inversely related to air temperature; the dew point is not The highest value of relative humidity usually occurs just after sunrise The lowest value of relative humidity usually occurs in the mid-afternoon
21 Air Temperature and Height
22 Air Temperature and Height In the troposphere, air temperature decreases with height Rising air expands due to the decreasing atmospheric pressure and cools as it expands Similarly, descending air will warm as it compresses due to the increasing atmospheric pressure
23 Air Temperature and Height The process by which changes in air temperature occur solely as a result of changes in atmospheric pressure is called an adiabatic process When air is heated or cooled adiabatically and no condensation occurs, air temperature will follow the dry adiabatic lapse rate which equals about 10 C per kilometer (or about 5.5 F per 1000 feet)
25 Air Temperature and Height However, rising air will cool and it is possible that it will reach the dew point temperature (a relative humidity of 100%) At that point, or the lifting condensation level, moisture will condense from the air and the air temperature will follow the wet adiabatic lapse rate which ranges from between 4 C and 9 C per kilometer The wet adiabatic lapse rate will be lower for warmer air since there is more moisture to condense
28 Air Temperature and Height Consider air flowing over a mountain that is 4 kilometers high (13,123 feet) For simplicity, we will assume the wet adiabatic lapse rate is 6 C per kilometer At sea level on the windward side of the mountain, the air temperature is 30 C and the dew point is 10 C
29 Leeward Windward
39 Air Temperature and Height This demonstrates the rainshadow effect of mountain ranges Precipitation occurs on the windward side Warmer and drier conditions are found on the leeward side of the mountain range (e.g.( e.g., Washington, Oregon, California) Downslope winds can be warm and dry sometimes called Chinook Winds
41 PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE! Atmospheric Humidity
44 To get precipitation, you need: Moisture in the Atmosphere Mechanism to Release the Moisture Every Mechanism Causes Air to Cool Below the Dew Point Temperature
45 PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE! Atmospheric Humidity
46 To get precipitation, you need: Moisture in the Atmosphere Mechanism to Release the Moisture Every Mechanism Causes Air to Cool Below the Dew Point Temperature The Easiest Mechanism is to Force Air to Rise There are 4 Basic Mechanisms for Precipitation and 1 for Condensation
47 To get precipitation, you need: 1) Moisture in the Atmosphere Clouds are the source of precipitation In warm clouds, liquid droplets condense and collide When the droplets become large enough, they fall as rain
53 2) Convective Precipitation Convection = upwards motion of heat air (convection cells) Caused by uneven surface heating Parcel of warmer, less dense air rises As the parcel rises, it cools
54 2) Convective Precipitation If the air is quite moist, the release of latent heat will ensure that the parcel of air remains warmer than the surrounding air If conditions remain favorable, the rising thermal will grow into a thunderstorm
58 3) Cyclonic Precipitation Pressure differences cause air motion (wind) A low pressure cell at the surface causes convergence Low level convergence causes upward vertical motion, and therefore precipitation
61 4) Frontal Precipitation Frontal uplift air can be forced upward through the movement of air masses Air masses = a large body of air, with a set of relatively uniform temperature and moisture properties
62 4) Frontal Precipitation When a colder, more dense air mass advances on a warmer, less dense air mass (a cold front), it is forced to rise over the cold air mass
67 Clouds and Cloud Formation Clouds are instrumental to the Earth s energy and moisture balances Most clouds form as air parcels are lifted and cooled to saturation Different lifting mechanisms exist to lift air and form clouds through condensation In the 1700s, a British Pharmacist developed a cloud classification scheme that we still use today
68 Clouds and Cloud Formation Clouds are classified on the basis of the presence or absence of vertical development Cumuloform clouds exhibit significant vertical development Stratiform clouds do not exhibit significant vertical development
69 Clouds and cloud formations Cirrus thin, wispy clouds of ice Nimbus rain producing clouds
70 Cumuloform Clouds Cumulus Clouds 1-22 km thick, meters high
75 Formation of fair weather cumulus
76 Cumuloform Clouds Cumulus Clouds 1-22 km thick, base is meters high Cumulus Congestus 3-55 km thick
82 Cumuloform Clouds Cumulus Clouds 1-22 km thick, base is meters high Cumulus Congestus 3-55 km thick Cumulonimbus 6-12 km thick thunderstorm clouds Progression occurs with development
92 Stratiform Clouds Classified on the basis of height High Clouds more than 6 km high Middle Clouds between 2 and 6 km high Low Clouds less than 2 km high
93 Stratiform Clouds High Clouds more than 6 km high Composed entirely of ice crystals Whitish appearance Temperature is around -35 C Little water vapor (0.025 g/m 3 ) High clouds Cirrus: : fine and wispy
97 Cirrus clouds with fall streaks
99 Stratiform Clouds High Clouds more than 6 km high Composed entirely of ice crystals Whitish appearance Cirrus fine and wispy Cirrostratus forming a complete layer
101 Cirrostratus When viewed through a layer of cirrostratus, the Moon or Sun has a whitish, milky appearance but a clear outline. A characteristic feature of cirrostratus clouds is the halo,, a circular arc around the Sun or Moon formed by the refraction (bending) of light as it passes through the ice crystals.
102 Stratiform Clouds High Clouds more than 6 km high Composed entirely of ice crystals Whitish appearance Cirrus fine and wispy Cirrostratus forming a complete layer Cirrocumulus light puffy clouds Mackerel Sky
106 Stratiform Clouds Middle Clouds between 2 and 6 km high Composed of a combination of ice crystals and water droplets Thicker due to higher temperatures Altostratus forming a near complete layer
111 Stratiform Clouds Middle Clouds between 2 and 6 km high Composed of a combination of ice crystals and water droplets Thicker due to higher temperatures Altostratus forming a near complete layer Altocumulus rows of puffy clouds
118 Stratiform Clouds Low Clouds less than 2 km high Composed primarily of water droplets Thicker and somewhat darker Stratus a nearly unbroken layer of gray
122 Stratiform Clouds Low Clouds less than 2 km high Composed primarily of water droplets Thicker and somewhat darker Stratus a nearly unbroken layer of gray Stratocumulus rows of puffy clouds
130 Cumulus or Stratocumulus? Cumulus flat bottoms occur when significant lifting is present Stratocumulus rounded bottoms occur when vertical motions are minimal
131 Stratiform Clouds Low Clouds less than 2 km high Composed primarily of water droplets Thicker and somewhat darker Stratus a nearly unbroken layer of gray Stratocumulus rows of puffy clouds Nimbostratus stratus cloud from which rain is falling
136 Lenticular Clouds Form downwind on mountain barriers Have a curved (lense-like) like) shape
144 Stratiform Clouds Fog stratus cloud at the ground Advection Fog moving air over a colder surface (e.g., the Grand Banks of Newfoundland) Radiation Fog motionless air that cools below the dew point due to longwave radiation loss at night
146 Radiation Fog in the Central Valley of California
147 Stratiform Clouds Fog stratus cloud at the ground Sea Fog forms when a cool moist air parcel comes in contact with cold ocean Occurs along the coasts of continents where cold currents move toward the equator (e.g. California, Peru)
152 What is the difference between the environmental lapse rate and the dry adiabatic lapse rate?
153 Environmental Lapse Rate vs. DALR/WALR Is the average temperature lapse rate, an expression of how temperature of still air varies with altitude This rate will vary from time to time and from one place to another, depending on the state of the atmosphere No motion if air is implied for the environmental lapse rate (both DALR and WALR rely on motion)
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