Physical Geo. Review

How does sun angle affect insolation intensity?

As the sun angle decreases, light is spread over a larger area and decreases in intensity (energy input per unit area).

Describe how the atmosphere affects insolation

These components (clouds, particulates, and aerosols) the atmosphere absorb radiation emitted by the earth, reflect incoming solar radiation back to space and scatter light into many weaker beams.

Describe how solar radiation is transmitted to the Earth's surface.

Shortwave radiation from the Sun penetrates through space to the outer edge of the atmosphere unimpeded by the vacuum of outer space. Once solar radiation begins to penetrate through the atmosphere this amount begins to decrease due to absorption and reflection.

Define albedo and explain what controls the albedo of a surface

The proportion of light reflected from a surface is the albedo. ... Color of the surface.

What determines the amount of longwave radiation emitted by the atmosphere and ground?

The amount of energy emitted is primarily dependent on the temperature of the surface. The gases of the atmosphere are relatively good absorbers of longwave radiation and thus absorb the energy emitted by the surface.

What is the difference between heat and temperature?

Heat is the amount of energy in a system. Temperature is the MEASURE of the AVERAGE molecular motions in a system and simply has units of degrees F, degrees C, or K.

Define temperature.

measurement of how hot or cold something is relative to another substance.

What are the three scales used to measure temperature?

Celsius, Kelvin, Ferenhealfkbrgbght

Define the daily temperature lag.

Temperature lag is when the month/time of day when insolation is longest does not match up with when surface temperature is greatest. This is because it takes a while for the sunlight to pass through Earth's atmosphere.

Describe how large bodies of water affect air temperature, describe two factors that lead to this difference.

Warm ocean currents are corridors of warm water moving from the tropics poleward where they release energy to the air. Cold ocean currents are corridors of cold water moving from higher latitudes toward the equator. They absorb energy received in the tropics thus cooling the air above. ?El Niño and La Niña?

Why does air move?

Because of convection currents caused by the heating and cooling of the air. As the sun warms the land or water the air will heat and expand and rise. The cold air will replace the rising air and it will then be warmed by the land and sea.

Briefly describe the Coriolis Force using the example given in the text.

The Coriolis force is the effect of earth rotation on the direction of the wind. Demonstrate this by standing a pencil on end at the north pole and turn the globe. The pencil completes one full rotation. But standing the pencil on end at the equator and rotating the earth yields no rotation about a vertical axis.

Define the friction layer.

The surface of the earth that winds hit. Basically anything the wind hits like mountains and buildings and stuff.

In general, how does air flow? Answer in terms of pressure.

??? Air pressure decreases as one moves upward through the atmosphere because the length of the column of air shortens and hence there is less mass above a given location. ???

What type of pressure do cyclones exhibit?

Low pressure. (Convergence?)

How are local scale winds created?

Many local scale winds are created by unequal heating of the earth.

Why do land/sea breezes form?

A land - sea breeze is created along coasts where land and water create variations in pressure due to differences in the way these two bodies heat and cool.

What common factors help mountain valley, Chinook, and Santa Ana winds to form?

Warm air.

Define wind.

Wind is nothing more than the movement of air molecules from one place to the next.

What atoms comprise the water molecule?

Hydrogen and Oxygen

What are the three phases of water?

Precipitation, condensation, evaporation

What term describes the water vapor content of the air?


Define condensation.

This is when the water in the air gets cold and turns into water again.

Describe the dew point temperature.

Dew point temperature is the temperature at which condensation takes place and is used as a measure of moisture content.

What is fog?

Clouds on the ground.

In general, how are clouds classified?

By their height.

What are the four main types of precipitation?

Rain, hail, sleet, snow.

How does the stability of air relate to clouds and precipitation?

This probably isn't right. We can think of air stability as the tendency for air to rise or fall through the atmosphere under its own "power".Condensation at the surface results in dew formation when the near surface air temperature drops to the dew point temperature.

What are the two types of location? Give an example of each.

Relative and absolute. R-SNU is by BFC. A- My home address is 3020 Venice Blvd.

2. Briefly describe the scientific process.

Ask a question. Hypothesis. Test it. Gather data. Make a data report. Publish findings after determining if hypothesis is valid or not.

3. What is GIS? What is GPS? Briefly describe how each is used.

GPS-global positioning system, track your location

4. Define latitude and longitude.

Latitude- Horizontal lines, measure distance north and south. Longitude- Vertical lines measure distance east and west.

5. What is a model in geography? Give one example.

Something used to represent something else, like a globe.

6. What do elk, aspens, and wolves in Yellowstone National Park have to do with each other?

Aspen are trees that get eaten by elk so they rely on wolves to eat elk but if the wolves go away all the elk will live and eat the trees so the trees will go extinct. Careful balance required.

7. What is a map projection? Explain one major problem one encounters with map projections.

Portrayal of the globe on a flat surface. Distortion occurs

8. What is meant by mean and range in terms of data sets?

Mean is average in a group of numbers. Range is difference in highest and lowest number.

9. Sketch a flat map of earth (similar to what I have drawn on the board) and label these zones: equatorial, subtropical, midlatitude, subarctic/Antarctic, Arctic/Antarctic, North/South Polar

From top to bottom: North polar, arctic, subarctic, midlatitude, equilateral, sub tropical, subantarctic, antarctic, south polar.

1. Define open and closed systems, give an example of each from the Earth system.

Open systems-allow energy and mass to pass boundary, the ocean.Closed systems-allows energy but not mass to pass, the earth

2. Give an example of exogenic energy.

Radiation from the sun.

3. Define a positive feedback. Negative. Which might we humans prefer and why?

..Negative feedback results in a system staying pretty much the same. Positive feedback is when a system is always changing. We like negative feedback things are pretty rad right now and if they change really fast, we cant adapt and we will all die.

4. Give an example of endogenic energy.

Comes from within the earth, so like natural gas.

5. What are the four basic biogeochemical cycles?

Oxygen cycle, hydrologic cycle, nitrogen cycle, carbon cycle

6. Describe the basic functioning of the hydrologic cycle.

When it rains, water gathers on earth, evaporates, becomes gas/vapor, turns into rain again.

7. What is meant by a "tipping point" in geographic terms, give one example from the book.

When we reach point of no return or the straw that broke the camel's back. Ex: Global temperatures rise to a certain number, it becomes extreme and undoable.

8. What two gases comprise most of the Earth's atmosphere?

Nitrogen and oxygen

9. Describe the lithosphere.

The gaseous envelope surrounding the earth.

1. What is meant by the term "dynamic equilibrium?


1. Explain how the greenhouse effect works.


2. What impact do particulates have on the atmosphere?

They block the suns radiation and scatter it.

3. What is an inversion?


4. Explain the environmental lapse rate of temperature.


5. How do humans contribute to global warming?

We have machines and hairspray and exhaust tat pollute the air and tear apart the ozone layer, letting in radiation from the sun.

6. What impact does ozone have on humans?

Ozone is the layer of the atmosphere that absorbs the sun's rays and if that is gone, the rays will hurt us.

7. Explain why temperatures increase with height through the stratosphere.


8. Describe the impact of clouds on climate.

Clouds are made of water vapor. They make rain once they become too full of water and they block the suns rays.

9. Where does methane come from and what role does it play in the atmosphere?

Mathane comes from decomposition of plant and animals. It is found in an outer lair of the atmosphere and absorbs radiation.

10. Briefly describe how temperature changes from the surface to the mesosphere.


1. Define air mass.

A vast pool of air having similar temp and moisture characteristics

2. Define cold front and warm front.

Cold - cold air replaces warm airWarm - warm air replaces cold air

3. What is the difference between air mass thunderstorms and severe thunderstorms?

Air mass- uplift of warm, moist, and unstable airSevere- associated with severe wind, rain, hail, can spawn tornadoes

4. Where is tornado alley?

Eastern Nebraska through central Kansas and Oklahoma into the Texas panhandle

5. What is the most important element of climate?


6. Briefly describe the humid subtropical climate? (Winter and summer temps, rainfall)

Warm summers, mild wintersHigh humidity, evenly distributed rainfall throughout the year

7. Describe humid continental.

Variable weather patterns related to cyclonic stormsLarge temp range due to interior location

8. Describe marine west coast.

Mild summers and winters, small annual temp rangeHeavy cloud cover and high humidity, cyclonic storms - prolonged periods of rain, drizzle and fog

9. List two types of evidence that supports global warming.

Increase in sea levels Melting of ice in glacial areasShift in growing seasonsAnimals responding to habitat change

10. What will happen if humans keep pushing the global temperature up?


1. Define hydrosphere.

Water sphere" - all the water found on earth and in the atmosphere

2. What is the cryosphere?

The part of the earths hydrosphere that is comprised of frozen water

3. What is the water table?

Divides the zones of aeration from the zones of the zone of saturation

4. Define interception (in terms of water, not football)

Precipitation that collects on the leaves or stems of plants

5. Define throughfall.

Water that falls off of plants and things that have intercepted it.

6. Define runoff.

Water that runs across the surface

7. What is an aquifer?

Bodies of earth material that have the ability to hold and transmit water

8. Where is most of the water in the hydrosphere?


9. What type of water do plants use?


10. Define latitude and longitude.

Latitude-lines that run from e-w and measure degrees from n-s, the equatorLongitude-lines that run from n-s and measure degrees from e-w, the prime meridian