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Energy of the Atmosphere
Sun – 98% of the energy in Earth’s atmosphere
comes from the sun in the form of
electromagnetic waves.
Radiation – is the direct transfer of energy by
electromagnetic waves.
-visible light
- infrared
Blue sky – is the product of the reflection and
scattering of light in all directions causing the
short wavelengths of blue and violet to appear.
Dusk and Dawn – the scattering of longer
wavelengths (red and orange) due to light
traveling through more atmosphere.
Thermal energy – the total energy of motion in
the molecules of a substance.
Temperature – is the average amount of energy
of motion of each molecule of a substance, thus
the measure of how hot or cold a substance is.
Thermometer – a thin glass tube with a bulb on
one end that contains a liquid (colored alcohol)
---- temp----when a liquid is heated up it will expand!
This expansion is restricted to going only two
directions in a thermometer, UP or Down! When it
rises it indicates more energy in the liquid
molecules and causing the liquid to expand up.
When heat (energy) is lost the molecules will
come closer together taking up less space and
indicating a lower temp.
Heat Transfer
3 types
1. radiation – the direct transfer of energy by
electromagnetic waves.
2. Conduction – the direct transfer of heat from
one substance to another substance that it is
3. Convection – The transfer of heat by the
movement of a fluid.
Pg. 51
Energy at the surface
1. Absorbed by earth
2. Reflected back to atmosphere
3. Absorbed by the clouds and gasses in atmo.
Green house effect – is when energy is
absorbed by water vapor, CO2, methane, and
other gasses in the air, causing a warm
“blanket” to form in the atmosphere.
Air Quality
Air pollution – mostly the result of burning of
fossil fuels such as coal, oil, gasoline, and
diesel fuel.
1. Solid particles – salt, dirt, pollen, and mold
are floating around in the air as natural
2. Smog – forms when particles of coal smoke
combine with water droplets in humid air. OR
when hydrocarbons are not burned completely
and bonds with nitrogen in the air to produce
photochemical smog.
Wind – is the horizontal movement of air from an
area of high pressure to an area of lower
- pressure differences are caused by
an unequal heating of the atmosph.
- cold dense air sinks and warm air
rises causing a movement of air (wind)
high pressure vs. low pressure.
Anemometer – measures wind speed.
Wind chill is the cooling of warm
blooded mammals do to heat loss
from wind.
Wind direction – Named (west wind) by the
direction is coming from. So, a west wind
would be coming from the west and blowing
toward the east.
Local wind – winds that blow over short
distances. Ste. Gen to Cape or smaller, do to
unequal heating of surface of Earth.
Sea breeze – wind blowing inland from the sea.
Earth heats up quicker less
pressure than air over water more
pressure. Day time.
Land breeze – wind blowing out to sea from the
land, due to opposite of sea breeze. Night time
Monsoons – sea and land breezes over a large
region that change direction with the seasons.
Global winds – (created by unequal heating)
winds that blow steadily from specific directions
over long distances. The movement of air from
the equator to the poles as a result of
convection is a global wind. See pg 59.
Coriolis Effect – The way Earth’s rotation makes
winds curve.
Jet stream – A high level stream of fast moving
air. At altitudes of 6 miles high and at
speeds of 180km to 350km.
Evaporation – process by which water molecules
escape into the air by radiant energy from
the sun changing water into a gas (water
Relative humidity – the percentage of moisture
the air holds relative to the amount it could
hold at a particular temperature.
Psychrometer – instrument used to measure the
amount of R. humidity in the air. It consist of two
thermometers, one wet and one dry.
Cloud formation
Clouds form when water vapor in the air becomes
liquid water or ice crystals. Water vapor
changing into a liquid----CONDENSATION
The temperature at which condensation begins is
called dew point. READ PAGES 63 & 64 ON
Cumulus – usually indicate fair weather. 2 to 7
miles in the sky (cotton balls).
Cumulonimbus – Thunderstorm clouds that
produce severe weather, tornadoes, hail, strong
winds. Have anvil shape to top of cloud.
Cirrus – Feathery or fibrous in appearance. Very
high altitudes usually between 6 and 12
kilometers. Indicate the onset of rain or snow in a
few hours.
Stratus clouds – smooth gray clouds that cover
the whole sky and block out the sun are
called stratus clouds.
Precipitation – Water vapor that condenses and
forms clouds that can fall to the Earth as rain,
sleet, snow, freezing rain or hail.
sleet – water droplet that freezes when it
falls through cold air. (winter)
snow – forms when water vapor changes
directly to a solid.
Hail – ice balls that fall after water is frozen
in the air then pushed further up and collects
more water and freezes again, over and
over until it becomes to heavy to stay
suspended in the air. The stronger the uplift
the larger the hail stone. (summer)
Freezing rain – rain that freezes upon contact
with the ground.