On an upper-level map, is cold air aloft generally associated with low or high pressure? What about warm air aloft?
Warm air aloft is associated with high pressure; cold air aloft with low pressure.
What does a steep (or strong) pressure gradient mean?
It indicates a rapid change in pressure over a relatively short distance.
ow does a gentle (or weak) pressure gradient appear on a surface map?
A weak gradient appears as widely spaced isobars.
Explain how each of the following influences the Coriolis Force: (a) wind speed
A. Increasing wind speed increases the Coriolis force.
B. Increasing latitude increases the Coriolis force. Coriolis force is maximum at the poles and zero at the equator.
What is a geostrophic wind?
The geostrophic wind is a theoretical wind that results from a balance between the Coriolis force and the pressure gradient force (PGF). It is a good approximation for the observed wind in middle latitudes more than ~1 km above the surface.
If the clouds overhead are moving from north to south, would the upper-level center of low pressure be to the east or west of you?
East of you. Remember that if you point your nose in the direction the wind blowing, low pressure is located to your left in the Northern Hemisphere.
On a surface map, why do surface winds tend to cross the isobars and flow from higher pressure towards lower pressure?
Because of the influence of friction.
Since there is always an upward-directed pressure gradient force, why doesn't air rush off into space?
Because of what is called hydrostatic balance: the downward force of gravity balances the upward vertical pressure gradient force.
What is an air mass?
An extremely large body of air (dimensions of 1000's by 1000's of kilometers) whose properties of temperature and humidity are relatively uniform in any horizontal direction at any given altitude.
If an area is described as a "good air mass source region," what information can you give about it?
In order for a huge mass of air to develop uniform characteristics, its source region should be relatively flat and of uniform composition with light surface winds.
Why do mid-latitude cyclones tend to develop along the polar front?
The polar front is a region of enhanced temperature gradients. Thus it provides ideal conditions for the formation of mid-latitude cyclones that derive their kinetic energy from the potential energy of horizontal temperature contrasts.
Why is it important that for a surface low to develop or intensify, its upper- level counterpart must be to the left (or west) of the surface storm?
It is only when the upper-level trough is shifted to the west that upper-level divergence is located over the surface low to deepen it. Figure 8.30 of Ahrens nicely shows the relation between the surface cyclone, jet stream, upper-level divergence and vertical motion.
horizontal difference in temp creates a horizontal difference in pressure. Difference in pressure creates a force that causes the air to move from higher pressure to lower pressure.
A cyclonic storm that most often forms along a front in middle and high latitudes. Not a tropical storm or hurricane.
Why do winds have slower speeds at the surface than 5 km above ground level, even if the pressure gradient force is the same?
There is no frictional force aloft to slow the wind.
Which best describes the balance of forces for geostrophic flow?
2 way balance between Coriolis and Horizontal Pressure Gradient.
What is the effect of curvature on wind speeds if the size of the pressure gradient force is equal everywhere?
Speeds are slower than geostrophic values around troughs, but faster around ridges.
What conditions characterize an air mass source region?
Weak temperature gradients and weak pressure gradients