Global Environmental Systems

Spring 2010

Text of first midterm. Check your answers on your scantron with those we talked about in class. You may use these questions to review for the final exam.

FIRST MIDTERM (worth 15% of total grade)

MULTIPLE CHOICE (On your scantron) Read each question carefully before you answer. If more than one answer seems correct, choose the best answer. (1 pt each)

1. Which of the following is NOT true of energy radiated by the sun?

a. It is way more intense than “longwave” energy. b. Most insolation is in the “visible” range.c. It is emitted at a range of wavelengths characteristic of its temperature. d. It is referred to as “shortwave” because the wavelengths are very tiny.e. Most of it is trapped by greenhouse gases as it enters the atmosphere.

2. The spring equinox will be in three weeks, on March 21st. At what latitude will the sun directly overhead at local noon on that day?

a. 23.5 o S b. 38 o N c. 66.5 o N d. 0 o N&S e. 23.5 oN

3. Which of the following surfaces would probably have the highest albedo?

a. an asphalt parking lot b. a snow covered mountain peak c. a black sandy beach d. a freshly plowed field e. the moon

4. The greenhouse effect is the result of the atmosphere's _______ of ____________ radiation emitted by the earth.

a. convection / ultraviolet c. absorption / longwave e. scattering / shortwave

b. reflection / microwave d. conduction / infrared

5. On which of the following dates is the Southern Hemisphere receiving the greatest amount of solar radiation?

a. June 22 c. November 3 e. March 21

b. July 21 d. January 3

6. The temperature in the troposphere

a. cools at an average rate of 6.4° C per 1000 m. of increased elevation.

b. is always isothermal near the surface.

c. warms at an average rate of 3.6° F. per 1000 ft. of increased elevation.

d. is warmest near the surface of the earth because of earth’s outgoing longwave


e. decreases due to increasing density of the atmosphere with increasing elevation.

7. Which of the following are the major greenhouse gases?

a. Ozone, water vapor, chlorofluorocarbons and sulfuric acid d. Carbon dioxide only

b. Carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, and nitrous oxide e. Oxygen, ozone, argon and methane

c. Water vapor is the most important greenhouse gas.

8. The following are major factors that control temperature at specific locations:

a. altitude, longitude, vegetation d. longitude, latitude, proximity to a large body of water

b. latitude, altitude, continentality e. altitude, proximity to a large body of water, longitude

c. longitude, continentality, altitude

9. The major characteristics of an open system are:

a. an open system has boundaries. c. only energy needs to cross the boundaries of an open system.

b. an open system has no boundaries. d. energy and/or matter cross the boundaries of an open system.

e. only a. and d. are correct

10. The rotation of the earth causes an apparent bending of the path of moving objects, such as wind and ocean currents, traveling over the earth’s surface. The name of this is:

a. the temperature gradient force c. the frictional force e. the force of gravity

b. the Coriolis effect d. the pressure gradient force

11. Which of the following is true of the Troposphere?

a. it contains nearly all water vapor in the atmosphere. d. it is the uppermost layer in the atmosphere.

b. it contains nearly all liquid water on earth. e. it is the home of the ozonosphere.

c. it contains all life on earth.

12. If you are standing at 90°0’0” East Longitude, the exact point on the globe directly opposite your position would be

a. 0”0’0” West Longitude d. 90°0’0” West Longitude e. 60°0’0” West Longitude

b. 180°0’0” West Longitude c. 270°0’0” West Longitude

13. Why is the sky blue?

a. Very short wavelengths of insolation are scattered by tiny particles in the upper atmosphere

b. Incoming shortwave is reflected off aerosols in the stratosphere.

c. Longer wave insolation is scattered off dust particles in the lower atmosphere

d. High energy wavelengths of sunshine are absorbed in the thermosphere.

e. Solar radiation enters the atmosphere and scatters tiny particles in all directions.

14. By what mechanisms does the surplus energy at the low latitudes get transported to the high latitudes?

a. By large storms such as hurricanes b. By heat carried in the winds c. By latent heat from evaporating water

d. By heat carried in ocean currents e. all of the above are correct.

15. What is the Geographic Grid System?

a. a spherical coordinate system b. a system for locating points on earth c. a grid of parallels and meridians

d. a system of lines marking longitude and latitude e. all of the above.

16. How is the earth’s physical system subdivided?

a. abiotic and biotic systems b. air, earth, fire and water. c. the four spheres d. atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere e. only (b) is incorrect

17. Which of the following is Incorrect?

a. The Tropic of Cancer is at 23.5 o N Lat. b. The Tropic of Capricorn is at 23.5 o S Lat. c. The Arctic Circle marks the point of 24 hours of sunlight on June 21st. d. The tilt of the earth’s axis is the reason the earth experiences seasons. e. The International Date Line follows 180 E&W Longitude, for the most part.

18. Which of the following is Incorrect regarding feedback?

a. Positive feedback causes a process to be amplified and perpetuated. b. Positive and negative feedback are types of closed systems. c. An example of negative feedback is when the sun warms a cool surface which then causes water to evaporate, causing clouds to form, cooling the surface. d. Negative feedback is common in nature. e. An example of positive feedback is when sun melts ice, exposing dark ground, which absorbs more sunshine, warming the ground, melting more ice.

19. The heat contained in air molecules that we feel on our skin is called

a. sensible heat b. radiant heat c. latent heat d. body heat e. canned heat

20. Air that is heated rises because:

a. it can hold more moisture than cold air b. it is less dense than cold air c. it contains less carbon dioxide e. it is more compressed d. it has smaller volume than cold air

21. The Tropic of Cancer marks

a. where the sun is directly overhead on Dec. 21 b. the southernmost position of the noon sun at 90 degrees
c. where the sun is directly overhead on June 21 d. the position of the sun on the vernal equinox e. 23.5 degrees N. Longitude

22. The temperature at which all molecular motion ceases

a. is called zero Kelvin b. is called zero Fahrenheit c. is called zero Celsius d. is the temperature at which water freezes e. none of the above

23. Latent heat (added heat that breaks hydrogen bonds) is stored when

a. water vapor freezes b. water evaporates d. water vapor condenses c. ice melts d. only b. and c are correct.

24. Which of the following is incorrect regarding the Coriolis effect?

a. It increases in strength with latitude.b. It is strongest near the equator. c. It increases with increasing velocity of a moving object or mass. d. Winds are bent by the Coriolis effect to the right in the N. Hemisphere. e. Friction at the surface reduces the strength of the Coriolis effect.

25. What is the difference between HEAT and TEMPERATURE?

a. temperature is the average molecular energy of a body. b. temperature and heat are actually the same thing. c. heat is the total amount of molecular energy in a body. d. an example of heat is the longwave energy leaving the earth. e. only a. and c. are correct.

26. Where in the world would you find the greatest annual temperature range?

a. the Amazon rainforest b. northeastern Russia ( Asia) c. the center of Antarctica d. central Australian desert e. Mt. Everest

27. Surface winds are controlled by

a. pressure gradient force, Coriolis effect, and friction b. gravity, Coriolis force, pressure gradient force c. temperature gradient, pressure gradient, and friction d. cyclonic movement, the polar jet stream e. convection, low and high pressure cells

28. Low and high pressure at the surface is commonly generated by

a. differences in elevation b. shortwave versus longwave radiation c. differences in surface temperature e. differences in latitude d. solar angle

29. Which of the following is incorrect regarding the earth’s energy balance?

a. 30% of SW down is reflected and scattered to space. b. 20% of SW down is absorbed by the atmosphere. c. Much of outgoing LW is absorbed and reradiated back to earth. d. A portion of LW out is used to evaporate water (latent heat). e. all of the above are correct.

30. Before the advent of life on earth, how was the atmosphere different?

a. there were no oceans. b. there was virtually no free oxygen c. the atmosphere was mostly nitrogen and water vapor d. the atmosphere was mostly hydrogen and helium e. none of the above.

WORD BANK. Choose from among the following set of words to complete each sentence. Mark on the scantron the letter for each word Where there are two letters fill BOTH circles, e.g. mark both a. and e. for “ae.” (1 point each)

a. carbon dioxide d. shortwave ac. water vapor bc. air cd. aerosols
b. nitrogen e. oxygen ad. argon bd. greenhouse ce. methane
c. ozone ab. hydrogen ae. longwave be. ice

31. _ac___ stores latent heat
32. _ b___ is the most abundant constant gas in the atmosphere
33. The __bd___ effect is responsible for keeping the earth warm enough for life.
34. The __c___ layer in the stratosphere protects life at the surface from deadly ultraviolet radiation.

35. On a clear desert night, the temperature can be very cold due to loss of __ae_ radiation to the cloudless skies.

36. __bc__ expands when warmed and contracts when chilled.
37. __cd___ such as volcanic ash can create rosy sunsets and sunrises.

38. __a___ in the atmosphere has increased by about 30% since the beginning of the industrial revolution.

39. __ad___ is the third most abundant gas in the homosphere.

40. __ce__ is emitted to the atmosphere by decaying vegetation in swamps and rice paddies.


IN YOUR BLUE BOOK: Diagrams each on a separate page: (5 pts each)

1. Diagram: Draw and fully label a diagram of the globe showing the Geographic Grid system. Include all major grid lines.

2. Diagram: Draw and fully label a diagram of the structure of the atmosphere, showing all four layers and characteristics of each layer.


SHORT ESSAY. Choose one of the two topics on which to write a short essay (1-2 pages). Please use full sentences with proper grammar and spelling Draw sketches to illustrate your work where helpful or requested. (30 points)

1. Describe the energy balance of the earth as an open system, in terms of shortwave and longwave energy. What happens to shortwave energy entering the system? How does longwave energy leave the system? Include a discussion of how shortwave and longwave energy each interact with different components of the atmosphere and surface. Diagrams would be helpful here.

2. Describe the combination of factors (7 listed in study guide) that can influence the temperature of a place, from global to local. Include in your discussion explanations of how each of these factors contributes to variations in temperature, seasonally and/or diurnally, from place to place.