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Weather Systems Vocabulary

GeneralWeatherTerms:
weather
climate
climate zones
meteorologist
Sun
temperature
Humidity
data
hemisphere
equator
latitude
longitude
angle of incidence or
Angle of Insolation
direct sunlight
indirect sunlight
Earth's axis
rotation
revolution
Orbit
tilt of the Earth
sea level
elevation
altitude

stateoftheatmosphereatagiventimeandplacewithrespecttowind,temperature,
cloudiness,moisture,andpressure;dailyorhourlyconditions
weatheroveralongperiodoftime(10years,50years,100years,etc.)
divisionsoftheEarth's
climates
intogeneral
zones
accordingtoaveragetemperaturesand
averagerainfall.Thethreemajor
climate zones
ontheEartharethepolar,temperate,and
tropical
zones
.
scientistwhostudiesweather
thedrivingforceofweather
degreeswarmorcold;influencedbycloudcover
theamountofwatervaporintheair.
information(plural;singular=datum)
halfofasphere;theEarthhasfourhemispheres:northern,southern,eastern,western
Imaginary,horizontallinearoundthemiddleoftheEarth
thedistancenorthorsouthoftheEquator
thedistancewestoreastofthePrimeMeridian
anglethesunlighthitstheEarth(moreintensity=warmer)
SunraysthatstriketheEarthinastraightline(mostdirect,intenserays=Equator)
SunraysthatstriketheEarthatanangle
Imaginary,verticallinethroughthemiddleoftheEarth;Earthrotatesaroundit;Earthistilted
onitsaxisat23.5.
spin;theEarthrotatescounterclockwiseonitsaxis(1rotation1day)Earthsrotationcauses
nightandday
orbit;theEarthrevolvescounterclockwisearoundtheSuninanellipticalorbit(1revolution
365.25days1year)
Earthspatharoundthesun
TheTiltoftheEarthsAxiscausesdifferentseasons
wheretheoceanmeetstheland;zeroelevation
theheightofaplaceabovesealevel(MountEveresthasanelevationof29,029feet).
theverticalelevationofanobject;thedistanceabovesealeveloraboveEarth'ssurface(The
airplanewasflyingatanaltitudeof30,000feet).

WeatherInstruments/Tools:
thermometer
anemometer
wind vane
rain gauge
barometer
Hygrometer

instrumentusedtomeasuretemperature(indegreesFahrenheitorCelsius)
instrumentusedtomeasurewindspeed(inmilesperhourormph)
instrumentusedtomeasurewinddirection
instrumentusedtomeasureamountofrainoveraspecificperiodoftime
instrumentusedtomeasureairpressure
Instrumentusedtomeasurehumidity

Weather Systems Vocabulary

WaterCycle:
water cycle
precipitation
runoff
infiltration
groundwater
collection
evaporation
transpiration
water vapor
condensation

thechangeandmovementoftheEarthswaterfromliquidtovaportosolidandbackagain;
thewatercycleispoweredbythesun
formofwaterthatfallsfromthecloudtotheEarth;aWaterCycleProcess
whenexcesswaterthatthegroundcannotabsorbtravelsoverthesoilsurfacetothenearest
streamorchannel;aWaterCycleProcess
Theprocessbywhichwateronthegroundsurfaceentersthesoil
waterthatinfiltrates,collects,andexistsforlongperiodsoftimebelowtheEarthssurface
whenprecipitationaccumulatesinabodyofwater,intheground,orasrunofftoabodyof
water;awatercycleprocess
occurswhenthesunheatswaterupanditbecomesvaporintheair;aWaterCycleProcess
whenwaterisdischargedasvaporintotheatmosphereasaresultofevaporationfromthe
soil,plants,andanimals(sweatingorexhalingmoistureintotheatmosphere);aWaterCycle
Process
waterinagasstate
occurswhenwatervaporcoolsandcollectsintoliquidform;thisoccursonthesideofacold
glassandintheairwhencloudsform;aWaterCycleProcess

Wind:
wind
wind speed
wind direction
local wind
global wind
Trade Winds
Prevailing Westerlies
Polar Easterlies
sea breeze
land breeze
windward
leeward

horizontallymovingair;causedbyunevenheatingoftheEarth'ssurface,whichcreateswarm
andcoolairmasses,resultingindifferencesinairpressurefromplacetoplace;movesfrom
highpressureareatolowpressurearea,likewhendeflatingaballoon;
changesasairpressurechanges
reportedbythedirectionfromwhichwindoriginates;prevailingwesterlywindsblowfromthe
westtotheeast
movesacrosssmalldistancesclosetoEarth'ssurface;unpredictable;changesfrequentlywith
airpressurefluctuation(examplesinclude:seabreeze,landbreeze,Chinook,SantaAna,etc.)
movesgreatdistancesovertheglobe;predictableandstable;alsocalledatmospheric
circulations(examplesinclude:PolarEasterlies,PrevailingWesterlies,andTradeWinds)
windsthatoccurbetween30Nand30S;blowfromeasttowest;blowcontinuouslytoward
theEquator;globalwinds
windsthatoccurbetween30and60inbothhemispheres;blowfromwesttotheeast;blow
towardsthepoles;globalwinds
windsthatoccurbetween60and90inbothhemispheres;blowfromeasttowest;blow
awayfromthepoles;globalwinds
aconvectioncurrentwhereairflowsfromseatolandduringthedaytime;alocalwind
(landheatsupandcoolsdownfasterthanwater;seeconvectioncurrent)
aconvectioncurrentwhereairflowsfromlandtoseaduringthenighttime;alocalwind
(landheatsupandcoolsdownfasterthanwater;seeconvectioncurrent)
sideofthemountainfacingthewind;evaporating(heated)airispushedupbythemountain,it
cools,condenses,andprecipitatesfrequently;vegetationisdense;sometimescalled
wayward
sideofthemountainnotfacingthewind;cooledairsinks;airisdrybecauseithasalready
condensedandprecipitatedonthewindwardside;vegetationissparse;desertsarefoundon
theleewardsideofmountains

Weather Systems Vocabulary


Clouds/Precipitation:
cloud
cloud cover
hurricane
Stratus Clouds
Cirrus Clouds
Cumulus Clouds
Cumulonimbus Clouds
Nimbus Clouds
Nimbostratus Clouds

alargecollectionoftinywaterdropletsoricecrystalsintheatmosphere;classifiedbyshape
andaltitude;formationdependsonairmassmovement;usuallyformatfrontalboundaries
andinlowpressureareas
fractionoftheskycoveredbyclouds;cloudy,partlycloudy,partlySunny
aviolent,tropical,whirling,lowpressuresystem,havingwindspeedsoforinexcessof72
milesperhour
lowlevelclouds(upto6,500feet);means"tospreadout"lookslikelayersorblanketsthat
coverthesky;resultinovercastweatherandsometimesproduceprecipitation;fogisastratus
cloudatgroundlevel
Thin,wispycloudsblownbyhighwindsintolongstreamers.Theyareconsidered
"highclouds"formingabove6000m(20,000ft).Theyusuallymoveacrosstheskyfromwest
toeast.Theygenerallymeanfairtopleasantweather.
Thesearepuffycloudsthatsometimeslooklikepiecesoffloatingcotton.Thebaseof
eachcloudisoftenflatlowertotheground.Thetopofthecloudhasroundedtowers.
Thunderstormclouds
PrecipitatingCumulusclouds
ARainCloud(Nimbo=precipitatingcloud)
PrecipitatingStratusClouds;lowgrayrainclouds(Nimbus+Stratus=rainpluslowclouds)

Fronts/AirPressure/AirMasses:
Air (Barometric)
pressure
density
atmosphere
troposphere
air mass
High pressure system
Low pressure system
front
cold front
warm front
stationary front

theweightoftheairabovethesurfaceoftheEarth,appliespressureonobjects;high
barometricpressurebringsclearskies;lowbarometricpressurebringslotsofcloudsand
precipitation;Whenpressureishigh,theriversaredry.Whenpressureislow,theriverswill
flow.
themeasureofhowtightlypackedthematterinanobjectis(hotair=lessdense,
coolair=moredense)
Alayerofgasessurroundingaplanet.TheEarth'satmosphereisdividedintofivelayers:
exosphere,thermosphere,mesosphere,stratosphere,andtroposphere.
layeroftheatmosphere~011milesup;welivehere;almostallofweatheroccurshere
Alargeregionoftheatmospherewheretheairhassimilarpropertiesthroughout,suchas
temperature,humidity,andairpressure.
Awhirlingmassofcool,dryair.Becausecoolairisheavyanddenserthanwarmair,itsinks.
Highpressurebringsfairweather,sunnyskies,lightwinds,andstableweather.Highpressure
systemsrotateclockwise.
Awhirlingmassofwarm,moistair.Becausewarmislighterandlessdensethancoolair,it
rises,andthencoolerairflowsinunderneath.Lowpressuresystemsbringstorms,strong
winds,andchanging,unstableweather.Lowpressuresystemsrotatecounterclockwise.
Aboundarybetweentwoairmasses,resultinginstormyweather.Afrontisusuallyalineof
separationbetweenwarmandcoldairmasses.
Aboundarybetweentwoairmasses(onecoldandtheotherwarm)movingsothatthecolder
airreplacesthewarmerair.
Aboundarybetweentwoairmasses(onecoldandtheotherwarm)movingsothatthe
warmerairreplacesthecolderair.
Aboundarybetweentwoairmassesthatmoreorlessdoesn'tmove,butsomestationary
frontscanwobblebackandforthforseveralhundredmilesaday.

GulfStream/JetStream/Currents
3

Weather Systems Vocabulary


jet stream
Gulf Stream

Convection Current

Land Breeze
Sea Breeze
El Nino/La Nina
Ocean Currents

GasConvectioncurrentintheupperatmosphere,locatedaboveNorthAmerica;haspowerful
influenceoverweatherconditions;flowsfromwesttoeast;meanderingchangeslocation
dependingonglobalconditions
TheGulfstreamisawarmwaterconvection
current
intheAtlanticoceanthatmovesfromthe
southofFloridauptheeasternseaboardandthenacrosstheAtlantic.TheGulfstream
moderatesweatheralongtheeasternseaboard,warmingtheairandlandthereduringcooler
months;itinfluencesweatherintheSoutheast,includingNorthCarolina.Citiesalongthe
coast,suchasWilmington,NC,andKittyHawk,NC,willgenerallybeafewdegreeswarmerin
winterwhencomparedtoinlandcitiessuchasRaleigh,NC,andGreensboro,NC
Acontinualcycleofheatrising,cooling,sinking,andreplacingrisingheat.(examplesby
liquids:gulfstream,ElNino/LaNina)(examplesbygases:jetstream,seabreeze,landbreeze

Landandwaterheattheairabovethroughconvectioncurrents.
Because land and water absorb and release (transfer) heat at different rates
,theair
temperatureabovelandandwatervariesatalltimes.Therefore,geographicalareascloserto
bodiesofwaterremainslightlywarmerinthewinterandcoolerinthesummerbecausethe
airabovethewatertakeslongertocooldowninthewinterandheatupinthesummerthan
theairabovetheland.
AgasConvectionCurrentwhereairflowsfromLANDtoSEAduringthenighttime;(landheats
upandcoolsdownfasterthanwatersowindblowsfromlandtosea)LANDWILLBE
COOLERTHANWATERATNIGHT
AgasConvectionCurrentwhereairflowsfromSEAtoLANDduringthedaytime;(landheats
upandcoolsdownfasterthanwatersowindblowsfromseatoland)LANDWILLBE
WARMERTHANWATERDURINGDAY
LiquidConvectionCurrentsthataffectweatherintheUnitedStates
Currentsaremovementsofoceanwaterinacontinuousflow,createdlargelybysurfacewinds
(andalsopartlybytemperature,salinityinthewater,gravity,andtheEarthsrotation)
WeatherpatternsaredrivenlargelybyOceanCurrents.
Oceancurrentsactmuchlikeaconveyerbelt,transportingwarmwaterandprecipitationfrom
theequatortowardthepolesandcoldwaterfromthepolesbacktothetropics.Thus,currents
regulateglobalclimate.Withoutcurrents,regionaltemperatureswouldbemore
extremesuperhotattheequatorandfrigidtowardthepolesandmuchlessofEarthsland
wouldbehabitable.

Weather Systems Vocabulary

HeatTransfer(Conduction,Convection,Radiation):
heat
Temperature
radiation
convection
convection current
conduction
conductor
insulator
potential energy
kinetic energy
thermal energy

energythatexistsinmatter
Measurementofheat;hightemperatureindicatesmorethermalenergy
transferofthermalenergy(heat)
byelectromagneticwaves
throughplaceswithorwithout
matter(examples:lightbulb,campfire,fireplace,microwave,Sunlighttravelingthroughspace)
transferofthermalenergy(heat)
byliquidsorgases
(examplesbyliquids:hotteratsurface
ofaswimmingpool,cupofsoup,orboilingwateronstove)(examplesbygases:hotair
balloon,lowerfloorsbeingcoolerthantopfloorsinabuilding)WARMAIRRISES
acontinualcycleofheatrising,cooling,sinking,andreplacingrisingheat.(examplesby
liquids:gulfstream,ElNino/LaNina)(examplesbygases:jetstream,seabreeze,land
breeze)
transferofthermalenergy(heat)
betweenthingsthataretouching
(examplesofconduction:
touchingthehandleofahotmetalpot,electricalcircuit,iceinwater)(examplesofinsulation:
rubbersurroundingelectricalwires,insulationinsidewalls)
anyobjectthatallowsheat(energy)topassthrougheasily;heatsandcoolsquickly
anyobjectthatisdifficultforheat(energy)topassthrough;heatsandcoolsslowly
storedenergy;energyofposition
energyofmotion;movingenergy
thetotalpotentialandkineticenergyoftheparticlesinanobject;
(morekineticenergyofparticles=moreheat,lesskineticenergyofparticles=lessheat)