April 15, 2010

Ask Scoopy: Atmosphere

Q: What is the mass of the atmosphere?
A: About 5 million billion tons.

Q: How much of the sky is covered when it is mostly sunny?
A: Between 20% and 30%.

Q: How much of the sky is covered when it is partly cloudy?
A: Between three-eighths and five-eighths.

Q: Decreased exposure to what causes seasonal affective disorder?
A: Sunlight. About 35 million Americans suffer from it.

Q: What is a likely treatment for seasonal affective disorder?
A: Trips to sunny places during winter months.

Q: How much of the atmosphere is oxygen?
A: 21 percent.

Q: How much of the atmosphere is nitrogen?
A: 78 percent.

Q: How long does sunlight take to reach Earth?
A: On average, just over 8 minutes.

Q: What is the average total albedo of the Earth?
A: Earth's average albedo is 30%.

Q: The ratio of light reflected to that which is received is called what?
A: Albedo

Q: What percentage of the atmosphere is krypton? (Watch out, Superman!)
A: Between 0.000001 percent and 0.00005 percent.

Q: What is the upper limit of the atmosphere?
A: The Exosphere.

Q: In which layer of the atmosphere does most of the world's weather occur?
A: The troposphere is where we live and where weather occurs.

Q: Which layer is larger in depth, the stratosphere or the troposphere?
A: The troposphere, where we live.

Q: Which layer of the atmopshere most efficiently reflects radio signals?
A: The ionosphere.

Q: What kind of radiation does the sun emit the most of?
A: Visible light. Among others, it also emits ultraviolet radiation.

Q: Where is the tropopause generally the highest?
A: The tropopause is highest in the tropics, where air is warm and tends to rise.

Q: What is the boundary between the troposphere and stratosphere?
A: It is called tropopause.

Q: Do thunderstorms need a stable or unstable atmosphere?
A: Unstable.

Q: Which is heavier, dry air or humid air?
A: All other factors being equal, dry air weighs more.

Q: What is a stratus cloud?
A: It is characterized by a horizontal layer of clouds.

Q: What is tule fog named for?
A: The tule grass wetlands in the Central Valley.

Q: What is another name for Tule fog?
A: Radiation fog.

Q. What seasons does tule fog usually form? A. In late fall and winter.

Q. Where does tule fog usually occur in California? A. San Joaquin Valley.

Q: In infrared satellite imagery, can you see low clouds, and why?
A: No, because they are the same temperature as the surrounding terrain.

Q: In infrared satellite imagery, what color are midlevel clouds?
A: They will be a light gray shade.

Q: In infrared satellite imagery, what do the high clouds look like?
A: High clouds are very cold, so they appear bright white.

Q: What does ITCZ stand for?
A: Intertropical Convergence Zone.

Q: Where does an ozone hole exist?
A: Over Antarctica each spring.

Q: Where is Ozone Layer located?
A: In the stratosphere.

Q: Where does the term meteorologist come from?
A: It comes from Greek. Meteoros is a word for something in the air.

Q: What type of radiation is longwave radiation?
A: Infrared.

Q: What is the radiation that the Earth emits called?
A: Longwave radiation.

Q: What is coalescence?
A: The colliding and merging of cloud droplets.

Q: In air quality, what is PM?
A: Particulate Matter

Q: What atmospheric parameter is measured in millibars?
A: Atmospheric pressure.

Q: What is lapse rate?
A: It is the rate of temperature change with a change in altitude.

Q: What is the opposite of an endothermic reaction?
A: An exothermic reaction, one that gives off heat.

Q: What is an endothermic reaction?
A: When a system absorbs energy, from solid to liquid to gas.

Q: What phenomenon is responsible for blue skies?
A: Rayleigh scattering, named after Lord Rayleigh, is the elastic scattering of light.

Q: Is the sky blue because it reflects the ocean?
A: No, the ocean actually gets much of its color from the sky.

Q: What is the cloudiest city in the United States?
A: Juneau, Alaska.

Q: How can the humidity be above 100%?
A: This happens if there is nothing for the moisture to condense on.

Q: Can the humidity be over 100 percent?
A: Yes. This is called supersaturation.

Q: What is the humidity at the surface when fog is present?
A: Near 100 percent, or at saturation.

Q: What layer is just above the stratosphere?
A: The mesosphere.

Q: In mesosphere, what does the root "meso" mean?
A: It means middle. Thus, mesosphere is in the middle of the atmosphere.

Q: What percentage of Earth's total water is in the atmosphere?
A: About 0.01 percent.

Q: What percentage of the Earth's fresh water is in the atmosphere?
A: According to one estimate, 0.04 percent.

Q: Which clouds are higher, altostratus or cirrus? Q: Cirrus.

Q: What is the highest cloud in the atmosphere?
A: Cirrus.

Q: What are cirrus clouds normally made of?
A: Ice crystals.

Q: Air quality in Beijing is how much worse than the WHO recommends?
A: Two or three times worse.

Q: What time of year has the highest concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere?
A: In the spring.

Q: What is the EPA's one-hour limit for carbon monoxide?
A: 35 parts per million, or 10 milligrams per cubic meter.

Q: What are the 3 most abundant greenhouse gases?
A: In this order: water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane.

Q: What are the primary colors of light?
A: Red, green and blue. They aren't the same as the primary colors of art.

Q: Which way does low pressure spin in the Southern Hemisphere?
A: Clockwise

Q: What is an old Scandinavian name for the Northern Lights?
A: "Herring flash." It was believed the lights were reflections off herring.

Q: How high are the Northern Lights?
A: They can be as low as 60 miles and go up to 350 miles.

Q: When does the aurora reach farthest toward the equator?
A: It reaches farthest around midnight.

Q: Which solar phenomenon produces the aurora?
A: The solar wind.

Q: What is diamond dust?
A: Ground-level clouds made up of tiny ice crystals.

Q: What is the name of a thunderstorm cloud?
A: Cumulonimbus.

Q: A cumulus cloud that is 1 kilometer X 1 kilometer X 1 kilometer weighs what?
A: While not exact, it weighs about 1.4 billion pounds.

Q: When water vapor changes directly to ice, what is that called?
A: It's the opposite of sublimation and is called deposition.

Q: What is sublimation?
A: What a substance changes directly from a solid to a gas with no liquid stage.

Q: What is a ceilometer?
A: It is a device that determines the height of a cloud base.

Q: What is the correct term, evaporative cooling or warming?
A: Evaporative cooling. Surroundings cool when water evaporates.

Q: What is Heiligenschein?
A: A phenomenon that creates a bright spot around a shadow of a viewer's head.

Q: What is airglow?
A: Airglow is light the atmosphere emits and the reason the night sky isn't black.

Q: What is afterglow?
A: A rosy light around sunset due to scattering by fine particles in the air.

Q: Which element scatters blue light to create a blue sky?
A: Nitrogen.

Q: A rainbow that occurs at night is called what?
A: A moonbow.

Q: What type of temperature profile is needed for a superior mirage?
A: There needs to be a temperature inversion (cold air below warm).

Q: What is an inferior mirage?
A: It is when the mirage is below the real object.

Q: A mirage is caused by what phenomenon?
A: It is caused by refraction, in which light is bent from in cold and warm air.

Q: What type of clouds allow a halo around the moon to appear?
A: Upper-level cirrus clouds that contain ice crystals.

Q: What is fog?
A: Fog is simply a cloud that touches the ground.

Q: How does upslope fog form?
A: It forms when moist air is pushed up a mountain.

Q: What type of fog occurs when moist air moves over a cool surface?
A: Advection fog. It is very common in the ocean.

Q: What is the humidity at the surface when fog is present?
A: Near 100 percent, or at saturation.

Q: The Bergeron Process describes the formation of what?
A: Ice crystals in the atmosphere.

Q: Which is heavier, cold or warm air?
A: Cold air is denser than warm air. Therefore, it weighs more.

Q: How do clouds form?
A: Clouds are formed when water vapor condenses.

Q: In nimbostratus, what does "nimbo" mean?
A: It means cloud or rainstorm.

Q: A "green flash" is usually seen over what terrain?
A: Green flash occurs over the ocean near sunset.

Q: At 18,000 feet, how many breaths equal one sea-level breath?
A: You have to take two breaths at that altitude to get the same amount of oxygen.

Q: What kind of cloud normally resembles fog?
A: Stratus.

Q: What is the most common high-level cloud?
A: Cirrus clouds, thin and wispy.

Q: High-level clouds are generally found at what height?
A: 20,000 feet.

Q: Which is lighter, humid air or dry air?
A: Humid air is lighter, because water vapor is less dense than air.

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