# 1. Use the Skew-T in Figure 4 to calculate the relative humidity values for the four levels above 999 mb.

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1 ANSWER KEY Part I: Introduction to the Skew-T 1. Use the Skew-T in Figure 4 to calculate the relative humidity values for the four levels above 999 mb. Table 3 Calculations of Relative Humidity from a Greensboro, NC Sounding at 1200 UTC on 4 December 2002 Level Mixing Ratio (w) Saturation Mixing Ratio (w S ) Relative Humidity (RH) 925 mb 0.2 g kg g kg 1 8% 850 mb 3.3 g kg g kg 1 80% 700 mb 3.6 g kg g kg 1 92% 500 mb 2.3 g kg g kg 1 88% 2. Using Figure 5, plot the following selected observations (Table 4) from Greensboro, NC that were observed on the morning of 5 December Plot the temperature in red and the dew point in green. Figure 5 Blank Skew T Log P Diagram for Question #2 Explorations in Meteorology 34

2 3. What is the elevation of the sounding site at Greensboro, NC? Elevation = 270 m 4. Using the Skew-T diagram you plotted on Figure 5, calculate the relative humidity (RH) at 850 mb, 700 mb, and 500 mb. Show your work. RH at 850 mb = 83% (w = 5.7 g kg 1 ; w s = 6.9 g kg 1 ) RH at 700 mb = 100% (w = 5.5 g kg 1 ; w s = 5.5 g kg 1 ) RH at 500 mb = 89% (w = 2.5 g kg 1 ; w s = 2.8 g kg 1 ) 5. Using the Skew-T diagram you plotted on Figure 5, describe the changes that occurred at the surface between December 4 th and December 5 th. The surface pressure decreased, the temperature increased, and the humidity increased to saturation. 6. In Figure 5, which levels or layers are saturated, as depicted on the Greensboro sounding? Which layers have inversions? Levels or layers that are saturated 985 mb, 925 mb, and 700 mb Layers with inversions 925 to 850 mb 7. What type of weather likely was occurring at the surface in Greensboro at 1200 UTC on 5 December 2002? Freezing rain, low clouds, and fog. 8. How critical was the surface temperature forecast to the citizens of Greensboro, NC on 5 December 2002? Would a forecast error of 3 C, either cooler or warmer, lead to different actions or decisions by Greensboro citizens? A surface temperature that was 3 degrees warmer would result in a harmless cold rain rather than a dangerous ice storm. 9. (Advanced Students/Meteorology Majors) Examine the differences between the soundings plotted in Figures 4 and 5. What process occurred between December 4 th and December 5 th to change the sounding? Evaporational cooling (i.e., the wet-bulb effect) Explorations in Meteorology 35

3 Part II: Sounding Interpretation For this part of the lab exercise, students should work in pairs. One student should plot the 16 April 2002 sounding from Aberdeen, SD (ABR) while the other student plots the 27 January 2000 sounding from Fort Worth, TX (FWD). Use both soundings to answer the questions in this section. List your partner s name below. Name of lab partner 10. Using data from either Aberdeen, SD (Table 5) or from Fort Worth, TX (Table 6) and the blank Skew-T Log P diagram (Figure 6), plot temperature and dew point data versus pressure at only the mandatory levels (noted in bold on table). Use a red pencil for the temperature data and a green pencil for the dew point data. Lightly circle each mandatory level dot with a black pencil. Do not connect the dots at this time. 11. Using the Skew T Log P diagram from question 10 (Figure 6), plot the entire dataset (i.e., both mandatory and significant levels) for ABR (Table 2) or FWD (Table 3). Use a red pencil for the temperature data and a green pencil for the dew point data. Use a ruler to connect each set of successive observations (red for the temperature trace, green for the dew point trace). Explorations in Meteorology 36

4 12. With your partner, examine your completed thermodynamic diagrams (Figure 6). Are the mandatory level data sufficient to determine the vertical structure of temperature and dew point in the atmosphere over either location? Why or why not? The mandatory level data are not sufficient. Key structural characteristics of the environment (moist layers, dry layers, the capping inversion, etc.) are not captured when only the mandatory level data are used. 13. With your partner, examine your completed thermodynamic diagrams (Figure 6). Are the significant level data sufficient to determine the vertical structure of temperature and dew point in the atmosphere over either location? Why or why not? Yes. By definition, significant levels are coded only when significant changes to the temperature and moisture structure occur. Therefore, the essence of the layered structure of the atmosphere is captured by using significant levels. (Note: sometimes mandatory levels also are significant.) Explorations in Meteorology 37

5 14. With your partner, label the following levels or layers on both plotted soundings (from ABR and FWD): (a) the lowest freezing level, (b) all inversions (i.e., layers where temperature increases with height), and (c) the tropopause. Use a black pencil to label your figures. Explorations in Meteorology 38

6 15. With your partner, examine both soundings. Was either location experiencing precipitation at the time of the radiosonde launch? Aberdeen Sounding Although the boundary layer is close to saturation, moisture within the lower half of the troposphere is not sufficient to indicate that precipitation is falling. There is very little moisture between 850 and 500 mb. A few measurements indicate that the air is near saturation just above 500 mb. At the most, some mid-level clouds, such as altocumulus, may be seen at this time. Fort Worth Sounding The atmosphere was saturated from near the surface to almost 700 mb (~3 km depth). It is likely that at least light precipitation occurred at this time. Based on the sounding (warm, above-freezing air over the top of cold, sub-freezing air), the precipitation likely was falling in the form of light freezing rain. Observations verified that light freezing rain was occurring at the time of the launch. 16. (Advanced Students/Meteorology Majors) Both sets of sounding data in this lab contain height data along with the pressure, temperature, moisture, and wind information. The radiosonde instrument package, however, does not measure height. Describe how the height data are obtained. Use the temperature (actually calculate the virtual temperature) and pressure values to solve the hypsometric (thickness) equation (a hydrostatic assumption) for height. 17. (Advanced Students/Meteorology Majors) Atmospheric thickness is defined as the difference in height between two pressure levels. Using Tables 2 and 3, calculate the mb thickness values for both soundings. How do the thickness values differ between 16 April 2002 and 27 January 2000? Using concepts discussed in lecture or your textbook, what is the physical reason as to why the two thickness values differ? mb thickness for ABR on 16 April 2002 at 1200 UTC 5630 m 20 m = 5610 meters mb thickness for FWD on 27 January 2000 at 1200 UTC 5660 m 166 m = 5494 meters Warm air is less dense than cold air. Pressure changes much more rapidly with height in cold air than it does in warm air. The smaller January value means that the mb layer occupies less space than does the same layer in April because January air is colder and more dense, hence less thick than the April air. 18. (Advanced Students/Meteorology Majors) What is the physical reason for the difference in tropopause heights between the two soundings? The tropopause height in the April sounding was near 200 mb, while in the January sounding the tropopause height was near 260 mb. Because the mean virtual temperature of the troposphere in the January sounding is colder than in the April sounding, the tropopause should be lower in the January case. Remember, cold air takes up less space than does the same amount of warm air. Explorations in Meteorology 39

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