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Physical Geography Week 4 Notes

by: Julia Parenti

Physical Geography Week 4 Notes GEOG 101 001

Marketplace > Towson University > Geography > GEOG 101 001 > Physical Geography Week 4 Notes
Julia Parenti
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About this Document

These notes cover the following topics: -solar energy -relative humidity -adiabatic heating and cooling -greenhouse effect -global distribution of solar energy
Physical Geography
Dr. Ken Barnes
Class Notes
geography, physical geography
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Julia Parenti on Wednesday February 24, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to GEOG 101 001 at Towson University taught by Dr. Ken Barnes in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 30 views. For similar materials see Physical Geography in Geography at Towson University.


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Date Created: 02/24/16
Physical Geography Lecture 6 Solar Energy: Insolation and Flows  Insolation ­The amount of solar radiation striking the earth’s surface ­determines relative rates of surface heating  Energy striking the surface may be: ­reflected unused back to space (albedo) ­transformed into sensible heat ­transformed into latent heat via evaporation ­evaporation is a cooling process: removes heat from local environments  Heat has the capacity to initiate movement or flows ­heat energy is unevenly distributed on the planet ­large scale circulations of the atmosphere and the ocean operate to redress global  energy imbalances ­heat energy is transferred poleward via winds and ocean currents Heat Transfer Processes  Conduction ­molecule to molecule transfer  Convection ­energy transferred by vertical movement  Advection ­energy transferred by horizontal movement  Radiation ­energy traveling through air or space as electromagnetic waves Atmospheric Moisture: Relative Humidity, Dew Point, Condensation and Precipitation Relative Humidity  One of several humidity measures to describe the amount of water vapor in the air  Definition: the amount of water vapor present over the maximum amount of water vapor  the air can hold (capacity) at any given temperature  RH=(amount/capacity) x100 Dew Point: the temperature at which the air becomes saturated. Air declines in temperature to  reach this point. Condensation: condensation of water vapor occurs once the temperature falls below the dew  point Precipitation: occurs if water droplets or ice crystals in the atmosphere grow and gain sufficient  mass to fall to the surface. ­occurs when air is forced to rise from the surface and air parcels cool below the dew  point Condensation  The process by which water vapor in the atmosphere changes phase from gas to tiny  liquid droplets or ice crystals  The conditions for required for condensation ­air must be saturated ­condensation nuclei must be present ­provides a mechanical surface upon which water vapor can condense ­centers of condensation and droplet / ice crystal growth ­dust ­ice ­salt ­pollen ­aerosols ­other fine particles Precipitation  This is the collective name for moisture in liquid or solid form that is heavy enough to  fall from the atmosphere o Drizzle  sleet  rain  snow  hail   Hail is the product of precipitation that has made several round trips above the freezing level in the vertical currents of a cumulonimbus cloud. Have  distinctive concentric growth rings Atmosphere must be unstable for precipitation to occur ­instability occurs when air is uplifted from the surface Mechanisms of uplift: ­convergence  ­convection ­orographic ­frontal or cyclonic Adiabatic Heating and Cooling  The change of temperature within a parcel of vertically moving air is because of  expansion and compression  When an air parcel expands, it cools  When an air parcel compresses, it warms  The rate of cooling is influenced by the relative humidity of the air parcel ­unsaturated air cools more rapidly than saturated air ­when air becomes saturated and water vapor condenses, liberated latent heat suppresses  the rate of temperature decline Lapse Rates: Environment Versus Adiabatic  Environmental Lapse Rate ­average =6.4 ºC/+1000 m ­apply to stationary air (temp change within the troposphere) ­varies daily and seasonally  Adiabatic lapse rates ­apply to air parcels that are in vertical motion  Dry adiabatic lapse rate: applies to unsaturated air. R.H. is less than 100% ­ ­10 º C/+1000m (9.8 ºC/+1000m_ ­ ­5.5 ºF/ +1000m ­sinking air warms by compression at +10 ºC/­1000m  Saturated (moist or wet) adiabatic lapse rate ­R.H. is 100% ­the liberation of latent heat slows the rate of cooling ­ ­5 or ­6 ºC/+1000m ­depends on the amount of water vapor and temperature ­ ­3.3 ºF/+1000m Greenhouse Effect  Make the earth habitable ­average global temp would be about 28 ºC (50 ºF) colder  The atmosphere allows visible light (shortwave) radiation to pass through ­shortwave is transformed into heat energy (terrestrial radiation) at the earth’s surface  The atmosphere slows the flow of long wave energy from the surface to space ­absorbs heat energy radiated from Earth’s surface ­delays transfer of heat from Earth into space ­heat is count­radiated back to the surface ­heat is energy is recycled several times between the surface and the atmosphere before is escapes to space  The gases responsible include: ­water vapor ­CO2 Methane ­CFCs Lecture 7 The Global Distribution of Solar Energy Energy in the Earth: Atmosphere System  The sun’s radiation on the earth’s surface is unevenly distributed ­due to the curvature of the earth’s surface (sphericity) ­produces latitudinal differences of temperatures Reasons for Spatial and Temporal Variations in Insolation  Geographical and temporal variations in solar energy received at the surface are a  function of  sun angles  Daily variations in solar energy received at the surface are due to rotation  Seasonal variations in  solar energy received at the surface are due to: ­axial tilt: 23.5 degrees ­parallelism: axis remains pointed in a constant direction in space ­revolution: annual orbit of the earth around the sun ­changing length of the daylight period Insolation and Sun Angles  Tropics receive more concentrated insolation due to the Earth’s curvature ­Receive 2.5x more solar energy than the poles o Surface insolation is a function of sun angles ­high sun angles ­energy is more concentrated on surface ­low albedo: low over both land and water surfaces ­passes through shorter distances in the atmosphere ­less opportunity for loss of radiation o Low (oblique) sun angles ­energy is less concentrated on surface ­temperatures are lower at the surface High albedo (especially over water) ­pass through greater thickness of the atmosphere ­less solar energy reaches the surface Sub­solar point and declination  Sub­solar point: the point on the earth’s surface being struck by the vertical (direct) rays  of the sun ­due to surface curvature, only one point at any given time experiences the direct  (vertical) rays of the sun ­no shadows are cast when sun is directly overhead Declination: the latitude of the sub­solar point ­the sub­solar point changes position throughout the year ­shifts a total of 47 degrees of latitude from: ­23.5 degrees N (tropic of cancer) to 23.5 degrees S (tropic of Capricorn) ­never poleward of these two latitudes Solar Noon: Sun at its highest daily position in the sky (above horizon).  ­highest daily sun angle ­Time of greatest insolation ­peak temperature lags behind peak insolation Energy Imbalance  Surplus energy to redress energy imbalances is transported poleward by: ­winds transporting sensible and latent heat in water vapor ­ocean currents transporting sensible heat Significant Seasonal Events: Northern Hemisphere  Winter solstice­ December 21 or 22 ­subsolar point located on tropic of Capricorn   Spring equinox­ March 20 or 21 ­subsolar point located on Equator  Summer solstice – June 20 or 21  ­subsolar point located on Tropic of Cancer  Fall equinox – September 22 or 23 ­subsolar point located on equator  The events and dates are reversed for the southern hemisphere


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