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Chapter 4 Moisture and Atmospheric Stability. Steam Fog over a Lake.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 4 Moisture and Atmospheric Stability. Steam Fog over a Lake."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 4 Moisture and Atmospheric Stability

2 Steam Fog over a Lake

3 The Hydrologic Cycle

4 Moisture-related Terms Transpiration –The release of water vapor into the atmosphere by plants Latent Heat –Energy absorbed or released to change the state of water –Measured in Calories A calorie is the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of 1g of water by 1°C

5 States of water

6 States of Water Ice –Frozen Liquid Water –Liquid at room temperature Water Vapor –Gas

7 More Moisture Terms Evaporation –The phase change from liquid to gas –Endothermic / absorbs latent heat Condensation –The phase change from gas to liquid –Exothermic / latent heat is released Sublimation –Phase change of solid directly to gas Deposition –Phase change of gas directly to solid Frost is an example of deposition

8 Water’s Changes of State

9 Ice

10 Water

11 Condensation of Water Vapor Generates Fog

12 Humidity – Water Vapor in Air Humidity –The general term for the amount of water vapor in the air Absolute Humidity –Mass of water vapor in a given volume of air Mass of water vapor (g) / volume of air (m 3 ) Mixing Ratio –Mass of water vapor in a unit of air compared to the remaining mass of dry air Mass of water vapor (g) / mass of dry air (kg)

13 Humidity Is the Content of Water Vapor in the Air

14 Vapor Pressure and Saturation Vapor Pressure –The part of total atmospheric pressure attributable to its water vapor content Saturation –Balance between evaporation and condensation Saturation Vapor Pressure –Pressure of water vapor in a saturated environment



17 Saturation Vapor Pressure Varies with Temperature

18 Relative Humidity –Ratio of the air’s actual water vapor content compared with the amount of water vapor needed for saturation at that temperature and pressure

19 Relative Humidity Changes with Added Moisture

20 Saturation Mixing-Ratio For every 10°C increase in temperatures, the saturation vapor pressure doubles

21 Changes with Temperature

22 Higher Temperature Lower Relative Humidity with MORE Moisture! Lower Temperature Higher Relative Humidity with LESS moisture!

23 Daily Changes in Relative Humidity with Temperature

24 Dewpoint temperature Dewpoint –The temperature to which a parcel of air needs to be cooled to in order to reach saturation Sling Psychrometer

25 Cold Drinking-glasses Chill Surrounding Air to the Dew-Point Condensation on Cold Drinking-glasses


27 Dew Point Temperatures



30 Adiabatic Temperature Changes The Basis of Cloud Formation Adiabatic Temperature Changes mean no heat added or subtracted –When air expands, it cools –When air is compressed it warms –Example: Pumping up a tire Air compressed in tire causes it to warm Escaping air is cool

31 Adiabatic Temperature Changes

32 Adiabatic Cooling Parcel –A volume of air Dry Adiabatic Rate –Unsaturated air / 10°C per 1000 m (1km) Lifting Condensation Level –Parcel reaches saturation / condensation begins Wet Adiabatic Rate –Latent heat absorbed from the evaporation processed is released at the LCL due to condensation– this reduces the adiabatic rate / BTW 5°C and 9°C per 1000 m (1km)

33 Dry & Wet Adiabatic Rates

34 Processes that lift air Orographic Lifting –Air is forced to rise over mountains Frontal Wedging –Warmer, less dense air is forced over cooler, denser air Convergence –A “pile-up” of horizontal air flow results in upward movement Localized Convective Lifting –Unequal surface heating causes small parcels to rise due to buoyancy

35 Lifting Processes Orographic

36 Heavy Precipitation in Mountains Snow Pack in the Rocky Mountains

37 Rain Shadow Desert When air climbs over a mountain, most of the moisture is lost as precipitation on the windward side The air descends on the leeward side As it descends, it compresses, warms, and becomes very dry Very little precipitation occurs in the “Rain Shadow”

38 Rain Shadow Desert Death Valley

39 Wetter Windward Locations and Leeward Rain Shadows

40 Rain Shadow Deserts On the windward side of the Sierra Nevada in California, giant sequoias and Douglas firs are found On the leeward side, you can find Death Valley In addition, fast moving windward systems can produce downslope warm dry winds These winds are often called “Chinook” and can warm the adjacent areas by 10°C (18°F) during winter

41 Frontal Wedging Masses of warm and cold air collide, producing a front Warmer, less dense, air rises over colder, denser, air

42 Frontal Wedging

43 Convergence When air flows in from more than one direction Air ascends, cools, and forms clouds Florida provides an excellent example of convergence

44 Convergence


46 Localized Convective Lifting Unequal heating causes some places to be warmed more than other places, i.e., parking lot versus wooded area Parcel of air that is heated will rise – these parcels are often called thermals Birds and hang gliders ride on thermals This is called localized convective lifting

47 Convection

48 As long as air in a balloon is hotter than the surrounding air, it will rise

49 Atmospheric Stability If an air parcel is cooler than the surrounding environment, it tends to sink, and does not rise – called stable air If an air parcel is warmer than the surrounding environment, it tends to rise – called unstable air / like a hot air balloon How high does the parcel rise? Until its temperature is the same as the surrounding environment

50 Environmental Lapse Rate The actual temperature of the atmosphere at any height in the atmosphere, based on observations Adiabatic changes are based on a parcel of air moving vertically in the atmosphere – does not include horizontal movement or mixing Air that rises, that is cooler than the surrounding environment, will sink if allowed to

51 Adiabatic Cooling

52 Absolute Stability The environmental lapse rate is less than the wet adiabatic lapse rate If temperature increases with altitude, an inversion exists and conditions are relatively stable

53 Atmospheric Stability Absolute Stability

54 Absolute Instability The environmental lapse rate is greater than the dry adiabatic lapse rate The ascending parcel of air is always warmer than its environment Often occurs in summer and warmer months Generally confined to the first few km of the troposphere

55 Absolute Instability

56 Conditional Instability Moist air has an ELR between the wet and dry adiabatic rates The atmosphere is stable in respect to an unsaturated parcel of air, but unstable in respect to a saturated parcel of air

57 Conditional Stability

58 Stability and Weather Days with low clouds and light precipitation probably involve stable air forced aloft Days with puffy clouds, such as in summer, likely result from unstable conditions Unstable conditions –Intense solar heating, air masses heated from below, orographic lifting, fronts, and convergence Stable conditions –Radiative cooling of earth’s surface after dark,

59 An Unstable Atmosphere

60 Subsidence Sinking air is called subsidence Associated with High Pressure systems Usually associated with blue cloudless skies More subsidence-warming occurs aloft than at the surface

61 Chapter 4 Humidity and Moisture Next – Condensation and Precipitation

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