# Heat Transfer and the Movement of Air

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1 LESSON 4 Heat Transfer and the Movement of Air INTRODUCTION How can a hang glider stay up in the air for hours without a motor? How can a bird soar over an open field without flapping its wings? They can do these things largely because of heat transfer and the motion of air. As the wings of a glider or a bird lift it up in the air, gravity pulls it down. This means that glider pilots and soaring birds need to find constant upward forces to stay in the air. Do you know where these forces come from? They come from huge masses of warm, rising air. Flat fields, dark pavement, and low-lying towns absorb a great deal of heat early in the day. These materials also give off large amounts of heat. Where there is a warm surface, you are sure to find warm, rising air. In this lesson, you will investigate what happens to air when it is heated or cooled by the surface beneath it. How does heat move between the earth s surface and the air above it? How do surface temperatures on the earth affect the temperature of air above it and the way air Hang gliders stay aloft by taking advantage of rising currents of air. CHUCK FISHMAN/WOODFIN CAMP & ASSOCIATES OBJECTIVES FOR THIS LESSON Investigate the effect of surface temperature on the temperature of the air above the surface. Hypothesize how heat is transferred between the earth s surface and the air above it. Observe and describe the effect of surface temperature on the movement of air above the surface. Determine the basic conditions under which water moves through the air. 42 STC/MS C ATASTROPHIC E VENTS Develop working definitions for the terms stable air mass and unstable air mass.

2 moves? You will investigate these ideas in Lesson 4. Then, in Lesson 5, you will look at what happens when air masses of different temperatures meet. Getting Started Go over your homework from Lesson 3, Student Sheet 3.1b: Interpreting a Data Table, with your teacher. As you do, think about the following: A. What was the temperature of Portland Parklands at 2:00 P.M.? B. How do you think this temperature might compare with the temperature of the Atlantic Ocean near Portland, Maine, at 2:00 P.M.? C. How do you think the temperature of the earth s surface affects the temperature of air above it? D. How do you think the temperature of the air affects how air moves? Discuss your ideas with the class. In this lesson, you will investigate how the temperature of a surface affects air temperature, air movement, and the formation of clouds. Your teacher will show you a Convection Tube. Brainstorm with your class ways in which you might use the tube to explore this interaction. MATERIALS FOR INQUIRY 4.1 For you 1 completed copy of Student Sheet 3.1b: Interpreting a Data Table 1 copy of Student Sheet 4.1: Investigating the Temperature of Air For your group 1 tote tray 2 Convection Tubes mL plastic container of hot water (with screwtop lid) mL plastic container of crushed ice (with screw-top lid) 1 stopwatch 1 digital thermometer 1 ruler 1 paper towel 2 rubber bands 2 pieces of plastic wrap MATERIALS FOR INQUIRY 4.2 For your group 1 tote tray 2 Convection Tubes mL plastic container of hot water (with screwtop lid) mL plastic container of crushed ice (with screw-top lid) 1 piece of plastic tubing 1 small funnel 1 punk stick 1 flashlight 1 small aluminum pan 1 ruler 2 paper towels 2 rubber bands 2 pieces of plastic wrap Scissors STC/MS C ATASTROPHIC E VENTS 43

4 Record the changes in temperature in each Convection Tube every minute for 3 minutes in Table 1. If the temperature goes higher than the thermometer s highest temperature, you can record 30+ C on your data table. (Do not touch the outside of the cylinder. Your hand may affect the temperature readings.) If it gets difficult to see inside the Convection Tube, use a paper towel to remove moisture from the base. Attach a 12. paper towel to a ruler with a rubber band and use this device to clear the cylinder and base, as shown in Figure 4.2. After clearing the Convection Tube, you can cover your containers of water or ice with plastic wrap and secure the wrap with a rubber band. Clean up. REFLECTING ON WHAT YOU VE DONE Answer these questions; then discuss your results with the class. A. How did the temperature of each container of water affect the temperature of the air above it? B. The movement of heat is called heat transfer. Describe the heat transfer between the container of hot water and the air. Describe the heat transfer between the container of cold water and the air. C. Under what conditions was it difficult to see through a cylinder? Why do you think this happened? D. Why do you think covering the container helped to keep the cylinder clear? Read What s the Forecast? on pages before Inquiry 4.2 begins. Figure 4.2 Clearing the Convection Tube STC/MS C ATASTROPHIC E VENTS 45

6 7. 8. Your teacher will turn off the classroom lights. Use your flashlight to see the smoke particles moving. Hold the flashlight behind the Convection Tube and then at the top of it. Do not cover the opening of the Convection Tube. (See Figure 4.4 [A] and [B].) Kneel down so you can see the smoke at eye level as it enters the Convection Tube. Talk to your partners about how the smoke moves. Move the tubing and funnel to the Convection Tube with hot water. (One member of your group should carefully 9. continue to hold the burning punk.) Clear the cylinder with the ruler and paper towel if needed. Place the punk under the funnel to add smoke to the Convection Tube with hot water. Observe. Use the flashlight to view the smoke. When you have finished observing the Convection Tube with hot water, clean up. Carefully dip just the tip of the punk into a container of water. This will stop the tip from smoldering. Then cut off the wet tip. (A) (B) Figure 4.4 (A) Shine the flashlight from behind the Convection Tube to view the air as it enters the cylinder. (B) Hold the flashlight at the top of the Convection Tube to see the smoke throughout the cylinder. Do not block the opening of the cylinder. STC/MS C ATASTROPHIC E VENTS 47

7 REFLECTING ON WHAT YOU VE DONE 1. Answer these questions in your science notebook; then discuss them with the class: A. On the basis of your temperature readings in Inquiry 4.1, how does the temperature of a surface affect the temperature of the air above it? B. How did the air, which was visible because of the smoke, move in the Convection Tube when the water under it was cold? Explain why you think this happened. C. What happened to the air inside the Convection Tube when the water was hot? Explain why you think this happened. D. Why do you think moisture formed on the inside of the Convection Tube with hot water? How do you think this relates to cloud formation on the earth? E. Apply what you observed in Lesson 4 to the earth. If the earth s surface is cold, what will happen to the air above it? If the surface is hot, what will happen to the air above it? Read Air Masses, on page 49. With your teacher s help, develop working definitions for the terms stable air mass and unstable air mass. Record your definitions in your science notebook. Apply what you observed in this lesson to cloud formation. When do you think clouds are more likely to form: when stable air remains close to the earth s surface or when unstable air rises and moves quickly to high altitudes? Look ahead to Lesson 5, in which you will connect two Convection Tubes to investigate what happens when air masses meet. 48 STC/MS C ATASTROPHIC E VENTS

8 AIR MASSES When air moves over different surfaces for example, cold mountains or a warm ocean it takes on the temperature and humidity (moisture) conditions of that area. Because of this, air separates into massive pockets, or air masses. An air mass has the same temperature and moisture content throughout. It can extend for hundreds or thousands of kilometers. Once formed, air masses can move and carry their weather conditions to another area. For example, air masses that come out of northern Canada are cold and dry. Air masses that form over cold oceans bring cold temperatures and moisture in the form of ice or snow. Air masses from the Gulf of Mexico that are warm and moist bring clouds and rain showers. Air masses from Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona that are warm and dry bring hot temperatures in the summer. Where cold and warm air masses meet, a distinct boundary forms between them. The cold air mass may slide under the warm one and lift it up. The weather at the boundary becomes unstable. When this happens, stormy weather may be ahead. Cold dry air Cool humid air Warm humid air Hot dry air Warm humid air Where do you think different air masses often meet in the United States? Why? STC/MS C ATASTROPHIC E VENTS 49

10 In addition to radar and satellite information, Ryan also uses data from ground weather instruments (for example, thermometers, anemometers, and barometers). Even special airplanes collect data that are mapped and fed into computer models. The computer models calculate wind, precipitation, temperature, and weather movement at locations around the globe. Ryan compares predictions calculated by several different models to see how well they agree. Ryan says that the science of weather forecasting is a lot like the science of medicine. Medical doctors use all the available tests, X- rays, and other methods to diagnose a patient s condition. Meteorologists do the same thing to arrive at a forecast, he says. They ask: What are the weather data and the calculations showing? What does it mean to our local area? Presenting the Weather When Ryan presents the weather, he decides what part of the local weather is most important to viewers. Each situation is a little bit different, he says. If thunderstorms are forming in the mountains, he shows the radar pattern. If I m following a tropical system, like a hurricane, I might use almost hourly satellite images, he explains. Ryan often links his weather report to other news. For instance, he once showed a tropical storm forming over the Pacific Ocean. He explained how the storm s rainfall could help put out fires that were raging in Mexico. Once Ryan has an idea for the forecast, he works with another meteorologist to set up weather images on a computer system. At 3:20 P.M., Ryan puts together the final forecast. He reports the forecast for the first time on the radio at 3:30 P.M. Then, with weather images moving across a computerized map, he explains the forecast to television viewers at 4:00, 5:00, 6:00, and 11:00 P.M. Ryan gives his forecast in front of a green board called a chroma-key. The computer image of each map is electronically projected onto any lime green space on the board. The public sees Ryan in front of the computer images, even though they are not really behind him. Can you guess why he doesn t wear lime green? Inspiring the Next Generation Some years ago, Ryan decided he wanted to get more young people excited about the weather. He created a program called 4-WINDS to teach students about weather. With the help of area businesses, Ryan s TV station donated weather stations to local schools. Each weather station contains instruments for measuring weather variables (including temperature, pressure, Bob Ryan working in the Channel 4 Storm Center MATTHEW BAILEY/NSRC STC/MS C ATASTROPHIC E VENTS 51

11 humidity, and wind) and a computer to store the data. In 2000, students from 200 schools participated in the project, using their computers to exchange weather data on the Internet. Ryan hopes that young people who are interested in the weather will have a better understanding of science and maybe even become meteorologists. They need to have a strong background in math and science and do well in those subjects, he says. Ryan learned about weather by studying science in college and earning a master s degree in physics and atmospheric science. I think there s a lot of opportunity for people interested in this field from improving short- Bob Ryan gives his forecast in front of a green board called a chroma-key. The public sees what is shown on the TV monitor in the upper left-hand corner. term forecasts, to studying global climate change, to managing water resources. Most of all, he says, it should be something you consider fun and look forward to doing. MATTHEW BAILEY/NSRC 52 STC/MS C ATASTROPHIC E VENTS

12 Weather Forecasting Can Be Cool... or Hot! When Vicky participated in the 4-WINDS Program with her classmates at Mountain View School in Haymarket, Virginia, she found that it was like finding out how a magician does his tricks. They use computers and technology to help them figure out the answers to the questions, she said. I thought weather forecasting was a luck thing. Maybe you got it right, or maybe you were way off. She found out that she could make predictions that were pretty close by looking at patterns of temperature, wind, and pressure. I used to think that computers were just for games and for typing, said Vicky s classmate Shawn. But there are other things you can do. I like using the 4-WINDS station because it lets me know what s going to happen. I m getting better and better at figuring the weather out. According to Amanda May, Vicky and Shawn s teacher, participating in 4-WINDS gave the students a tremendous knowledge of how technology is used in everyday life. My students were getting very accurate weather forecasts for our area within 24 to 36 hours because they could track patterns. It really made an impression when they could see someone else calling our system over the Internet. And there we were on Channel 4 [the station Bob Ryan works for]. Or the National Weather Service would call [to get our data]. The students were doing adult work. Because of the 4-WINDS Program, May continued, several of her students developed a great interest in earth science and meteorology. Carol is one such student. She wrote in her journal that when the wind is from the southwest and the barometric pressure is falling, something is going to come out of the sky. Then we just use the thermometer to figure out what that something is, snow or rain. This weather stuff is a cinch! Shawn agreed. I can predict what tomorrow s weather will be because I can find out what the weather is right now, she said. I m good at it, but I don t think I m a threat to Bob Ryan... yet! STC/MS C ATASTROPHIC E VENTS 53

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