A note on the "Reading Questions" below: You should use these questions (1) to help guide you to the points in the text that I regard as the most important; and (2) to give you something to look for as you read, thereby making your reading more active and directed. I do not expect you to submit written answers to these questions, though either recording your answers in writing or highlighting/annotating the portions of the text containing the answers, and (especially) quizzing yourself about them after doing the reading, should help you retain the information better.
On-line Reading Assignment #1 complements this reading assignment (which is from the text).
Pre-class Quiz #1, based on the reading
questions below and on On-line Reading #1, will be posted on iLearn. Consult
the course schedule on the class
Web site for more information.
From Introduction to the Atmosphere and the Science of Meteorology, Chapter 1:
"Introduction to the Atmosphere" (pp. 3-28)
- Meteorology, Weather, and Climate (pp. 6-7)
- What is meteorology? It is one of the earth sciences; what are the others? Are they strictly distinct from each other? What does meteorology (and the other earth sciences) have to do with physics, chemistry, and biology?
- What primary effects are responsible for driving atmospheric behavior and producing what we call weather?
- What is weather? In addition to "average weather", what else about the weather is necessary to define climate?
- Beyond what period of time into the future are weather forecasts typically not very dependable? In the absence of reliable, detailed weather forecasts beyond that period of time, how can information about climate still be helpful (if not a substitute)?
- According to Figure 5, what part(s) of the 48 contiguous U.S. states experiences the highest percentage of sunny days in November, on the average? What part(s) experience the fewest average number of sunny days in November?
- What is meant by the expression, "climate is what you expect, but weather is what you get?"
- What are basic "elements" of weather that are measured regularly? Are they independent of each other? (What do you think is meant by "independent"?)
- Atmospheric Hazards: Assault by the Elements (pp 7-10)
- What atmospheric phenomena does the text mention as among those that can kill people in the U.S.? From 1988-2007, which one of these phenomena killed the most people in the U.S.?
- Between 1980 and 2007, how many weather-related disasters in the U.S. caused at least $1 billion in damages (adjusted for inflation)? What was the total cost of those $1 billion+ disasters in the U.S. (not counting other, lesser ones) during that period?
- According to Table 1, what was the single most expensive weather-related disaster in the U.S. during between 2002 and 2007? What were the next five most costly during that period? What different, distinct types of weather-related disasters does Table 1 list?
- According to Figure 8, what two years between 1980 and 2007 experienced the greatest number of $1 billion+ weather-related disasters? How many were there in each of those two years? [Note: For comparison, in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011, there were 9, 6, 3, and 14 $1 billion+ weather-related disasters, respectively, in the U.S. The 14 events in 2011 included six distinctly different types of weather-related disasters, including tornadoes, a hurricane, floods, drought, a heat wave, and a blizzard.]
- Do you see a trend over time from 1980 to 2007 in Figure 8 (together with the info added in the previous question, above)? If so, what might account for it? (Might there be more than one possible credible explanation?)
- The Nature of Scientific Inquiry (pp. 10-11)
- What does the text say is the overall goal of science?
- How do scientists (and other people, we might add) determine what is occurring in the natural world? Is this sort of knowledge certain? Why or why not? Even if it isn't certain, can science do without it?
- According to the text, what function does a "principle" serve in science
- What is a hypothesis?
- Why is it best if multiple hypotheses or possible explanations are proposed to account for observations of the natural world? [Note: There are always many, many hypotheses/explanations alternative for any observation. Not all are equally likely or plausible, though!]
- What must happen to a hypothesis before it can become an accepted part of scientific knowledge? What property must a hypothesis have to be scientifically useful? Generally speaking, how are hypotheses tested?
- What is the difference between a hypothesis and a theory? What is misleading about the expression, "it is only a theory", if that theory is a scientific theory? Having said that, how certain are scientific theories? What is a scientific paradigm?
- Is there a standard, fixed, step-by-step, recipe or formula for "the" scientific "method" that produces scientific knowledge? What aspects of scientific method(s) require creativity and imagination? What aspects of scientific method(s) are common to many scientific investigations? What are some other ways by which scientific methods can yield new knowledge (and help explain why there is no single scientific method but rather multiple methods with some common characteristics)?
- Observing the Atmosphere (pp. 11-13)
- When did scientific investigation of the atmosphere really begin? How did it start?
High Altitude Observations
- What types of devices did people use to try to explore the atmosphere above the earth's surface? What sorts of problems did they encounter?
- What is a radiosonde? What information do they record and send back to the earth's surface? How often are they launched, from a global network of launching stations? Why are the data they gather important?
Weather Radar and Satellites
- What information about the atmosphere do weather satellite images commonly show? What information to weather radar images commonly show? What is one reason why weather satellites are so important? What other types of information relevant to weather and climate besides cloud patterns do satellites record?
- What organization is responsible for coordinating weather and climate data collection, distribution, and formatting conventions globally? How many countries participate in this effort?
- Earth's Atmosphere (pp. 13-17)
- What is the radius of the earth? Within how deep a layer above sea level is 99% of the air in the atmosphere? [Going beyond the text: Expressed as a percentage of the radius of the earth, how deep is this portion of the atmosphere?]
- In addition to providing the air that we breathe, what else does the atmosphere do to protect life on the earth?
- What percentage of the earth's surface is covered by ocean? How deep are the oceans, on the average? What proportion of all liquid water on the earth resides in the oceans? (Where is the rest of it?)
- Earth as a System (pp. 17-21)
- What is meant by the "earth system"? Broadly speaking, what are its components? [Note: The text identifies four, but other sources distinguish a fifth one, the cryosphere, consisting of ice in polar ice caps, sea ice, and glaciers.]
Earth System Science
- What example does the text provide of interactions among components of the earth system?
The Earth System
- What is the primary source of energy that drives weather and climate?
- What are examples of ways in which humans are inescapably part of the earth system?
- Composition of the Atmosphere (pp. 21-24)
- What two gases make up 99% of "clean, dry air" (that is, air in which all components of air that vary from time to time and place to place, such as water vapor, liquid and solid water particles, dust, etc., have been removed). According to Figure 21, what percentage of all molecules of gases in clean, dry air does each of these two gases constitute? Are these two gases important for understanding the behavior of weather?
- What gas makes up most of the remaining 1% of clean, dry air? Is it meteorologically important?
- Expressed as a percentage of all molecules of gases that constitute air, how much carbon dioxide is present in clean, dry air? Is it meteorologically important? Does it's concentration vary much from place to place? How has its concentration changed since regular measurements of it began in the late 1950s?
- According to most atmospheric scientists, what consequence has the change in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration had (and will continue to have for a long time)?
- What are three examples of atmospheric components that vary significantly from place to place and time to time? Do any of them typically constitute a large percentage of air? Are they meteorologically significant?
- Expressed as a range of percentages of all molecules (that is, by volume) of the gases that constitute air, how much water vapor is typically present in air? What are three reasons that the text cites for why water vapor is meteorologically important?
- What are aerosols? What are some specific examples of aerosols? What are examples of sources of aerosols in the atmosphere? Where are they most abundant? What are two ways in which aerosols are meteorologically important?
- What is the difference between ozone and oxygen? How much ozone is present in the atmosphere, on the average? Where in the atmosphere is most of it located? What is the stratosphere? Why is ozone important to life on the earth?
- Ozone Depletion—A Global Issue (pp. 25-28)
Chapter Summary: The first 11 bulleted items
Vocabulary Review: Many of these (especially if they appear in italics in the questions above).
Review Questions: #'s 1-6, 9-10, and 12-14 recommended.
- What human-produced pollutant has jeopardized the stratospheric ozone layer? When did three scientists first recognize this threat? [All three later won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for their work.]
The Antarctic Ozone Hole
- Where, and during what time of year,
was stratospheric ozone destruction most pronounced (and where it was first detected)? [Note: The ozone "hole" is not literally a hole in the ozone layer. Rather, its is a reduction in normal ozone concentration in a region centered over Antarctica. (There is a similar, though less pronounced, "hole" in the ozone layer over the Arctic.]
Effects of Ozone Depletion
- What are some consequences of reduced concentrations of stratospheric ozone?
- What was the Montreal Protocol, established in 1987? What effect has it had on the atmospheric concentrations of ozone-depleting chemicals and stratospheric ozone?
Assignments, Handouts, etc.