Weather and Climate questions and answer revision notes

Questions and answers to help revision.

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Weather and Climate Revision Answers
What is the definition of `weather'?
The state of the atmosphere on a local scale over a short period of time.
What is the definition of climate?
The average atmospheric conditions over a larger time scale and area. It is often defined as
the average weather conditions for a 30 year period.
List the layers of the structure?
Troposphere, Stratosphere, Mesosphere and Thermosphere.
Explain each one.
The zone closest to the Earth and where most weathering takes place.
Exhibits the highest temperatures as radiation from the sun warms the Earth's
surface which then warms the air directly above it by the process of
convection, conduction and radiation.
However, this affect decreases rapidly with distance away from the surface as
air temperature drops by 6.4°C for every 1,000m (1km) gained in height.
Wind speeds also increase with height as frictional drag with the Earth's
surface is reduced.
This is the most unstable layer containing most water vapour.
The end / top of the troposphere is called the tropopause, an isothermal layer
where temperature remains constant as altitude increases. It marks the limit
of the zone of weather and climate.
Characterised by a steady increase in temperature (a shallower change than
that of the troposphere) called temperature inversion.
This is as a result of the absorption of solar radiation by the ozone layer at
2530km high.
The ozone layer absorbs enough ultraviolet (UV) radiation to make it safe for
humans otherwise
The atmosphere is noticeably thinner in this zone as pressure decreases with
height and there is a lack of vapour.
Wind speeds also keep increasing towards the stratopause, another
isothermal layer.
Temperature decreases rapidly (similarly to in the troposphere) but this time to
much cooler temperatures of 90°C.
Here there is no water vapour or dust to absorb radiation.
Very strong winds of 3,000 kmph.
Culminates in another isothermal layer called the mesopause.

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Named due to the increase in temperature resulting from the absorption of UV
radiation of atomic oxygen found at this altitude.
Why does temperature decline with altitude throughout the troposphere?
At lower altitudes there is more air molecules meaning there is more friction between them which
leads to higher temperatures. However at higher altitudes where there are less air molecules there
is less friction and therefore temperatures are much lower.…read more

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Vertical motion not only transfers heat from the areas of positive heat budget by cooling as
the air masses rise, but is linked to the horizontal movements at higher altitudes which help
transfer warm air towards the Poles.
Global wind systems transfer heat and moisture from the sub-tropics towards the higher
The south-westerly winds for example keep Britain mild in winter because they are warm
wet winds coming up from an area of energy surplus.
Northerly winds however keep Britain cooler.…read more

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It sweeps the Antarctic Continent at
around 4km deep and then moves into the major ocean basins. These motions are reciprocated by
less salty and dense surface currents which move north towards the Poles from the Indian and Pacific
Oceans.…read more

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Today we refer to the Hadley cells either side of the equation to describe the intense
insolation which causes warm air to rise by convention.
The low pressure created drags the trade winds in towards the equator where they are
forced to rise.
The zone where they meet is called the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ).
This is a kind of meteorological equator which shifts north and south during the year.…read more

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Polar Continental (easterly) gives very cold temperatures in the Winter <0°C as
originated over the cold land mass of Eastern Europe, but warms slightly over the North Sea
to become unstable in the lower layers although the North Sea is not wide enough for it to
become a warm air mass. Unstable lower layers bring heavy snow in Eastern Britain. Wind
chill is also high but if this air stream occurs in summer it brings warm conditions and is
more stable therefore causing dry conditions.…read more

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Britain affected by frontal rainfall which occurs when warmer air is pushed up over a
wedge of cooler air where two air masses meet in a frontal system.
Most common direction from which the wind blows is the southwest, but this is
variable with long spells of easterly or northeasterly winds quite frequent in winter.…read more

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What is an anticyclone?
This is where air is descending leading to high pressure systems; here any water vapour present in
the atmosphere is evaporated leading to little cloud cover and precipitation. Winds are light as
isobars are far apart and the pressure gradient is gentle leading to lights winds that blow clockwise
out from the centre of the high-pressure area. The passages of anti-cyclones tend to be much slower
than with depressions.
Describe summer anticyclones.…read more

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Monsoon Climate has 3 different seasons:
Oct-Mar: the only dry season with temperatures of 21-25°C, little rainfall and winds blowing
from the north east called the `rising Monsoon winds' - land to sea breezes.
Mar-June: this is a short season with extremely hot temperatures of 31°C, there is cloudless
sky with no rain and dry winds.
June-Sept: winds from the sea bring heavy rain where rivers are filled. Temperatures are a
little cooler.…read more

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As the strong winds sweep over the sea they increase the rate of evaporation.
As this moist air keeps rising it cools, condenses and releases latent heat to form
cloud and heavy rainfall.
This warms the atmosphere further and increases instability.
A central eye starts to develop which is 3050 km in diameter and has subsiding air,
clear skies and high temperatures.
The extreme low pressure at the eye causes air to be sucked towards the centre as
powerful winds.…read more


Mr A Gibson

These are really valuable and will be great for you to prepare for exam questions on this topic (regardless of exam board). These can serve as notes too for your folder.

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