Foundations of Earth Science

Chapter 12: Clouds and Precipitation

Critical Thinking

1. Water vapor capacity graph (Copyright © Prentice Hall, Inc.)

Referring to the above graph of water vapor capacity of a kilogram of air at various temperatures, which of the following statements best describes the capacity of air to hold moisture as its temperature increases?  

2. The mixing ratio of a 25°C parcel of air is 7 g/kg. Referring to the graph in Question 1, what would be the air's relative humidity?  

3. The dew-point temperature of the parcel of air described in Question 2 would be approximately __________.  

4. Which of the following statements best describes what will happen if the temperature of the parcel of air described in Question 2 is lowered to 0°C?  

5. Average annual precipitation  (Courtesy of NOAA)

According to the information presented in the above diagram, adiabatic cooling of the atmosphere is most effective in the mid-latitudes and polar regions of Earth.  

6. Referring to the map in Question 5, which of the four mechanisms that cause air to rise is most responsible for the precipitation in the equatorial oceans?  

7. Satellite image (Courtesy of NOAA)

Of the mechanisms that cause air to rise, __________ is most likely responsible for the cloud cover at point A, while __________ is occurring at point B.  

8. Orographic cooling diagram (Copyright © Prentice Hall, Inc.)

Given the information on the above diagram and using the graph in Question 1 as a reference, at what altitude along the windward slope will condensation begin to occur in a rising parcel of air that has the indicated temperature and moisture characteristics at sea level?  

9. Referring to the parcel of air in Question 8, and assuming a dry adiabatic rate of 5.0°C per 1000 meters, the temperature of the rising parcel of air at the mountain summit will be approximately 0°C.  
10. Temperature-dew point plot (Copyright © Prentice Hall, Inc.)

Refering to the above plot of temperature and dew point with altitude, which of the following statements are accurate?

a. Condensation is most likely occurring at about 1.5 kilometers.

b. The tropopause is located about 1 kilometer above the surface.

c. There is a slight warming with altitude in the lowermost atmosphere.

d. Snow is probably occurring at about 10 kilometers.

e. Above 9 kilometers, the atmosphere is cooling at the normal lapse rate.


11. Stability diagram (Copyright © Prentice Hall, Inc.)

Comparing the atmospheric rates of the air represented in the above diagram indicates that the air is unstable and will continue to rise because of its own buoyancy.  

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