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NYS Earth Science Regents Review Practice - Weather - Question 01 PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Earth Science Wizard   
Thursday, 19 November 2009 16:39

1. Which type of air mass usually contains the most moisture?

A) mT

B) mP

C) cT

D) cP

Correct Answer: Option A – mT

An air mass is a large volume of air defined by its temperature and water vapor content. Air masses cover many hundreds or thousands of square miles, and adopt the characteristics of the surface below them. They are classified according to latitude and their continental or maritime source regions. Weather fronts separate air masses with different density (temperature and/or moisture) characteristics.

mT = maritime Tropical

The maritime tropical air mass is most often felt in the Southeast US. In the winter this air mass is shoved toward the equator but in summer it can cover much of the US east of the Rockies. This air mass results from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Gulf Stream. The warm waters in this region evaporate an enormous volume of water. Cold water currents tend to stabilize the atmosphere and produce little evaporation while warm waters destabilize the atmosphere and add moisture. The warm waters warm the low levels of the atmosphere. High dewpoints characterize mT air. At all times of the year dewpoints are greater than 50 ° F.

As the maritime tropical airmass moves over land it begins to "pick up" characteristics of a continental climate. This is particularly true when the mT airmass moves toward the North. The mT airmass modifies due to lower sun angles, drier land below, and cooler land below.

Incorrect Options

mP = Maritime Polar

The source region for mP air is over cold ocean currents or high latitude ocean waters. This air does not have the moisture content as mT air. Since mP air is always near saturation, orographic lifting of the air mass can produce widespread rain or snow. This air mass is notorious for producing fog, drizzle, cloudy weather and long lasting light to moderate rain. The temperature of mP air ranges from just above freezing to below 70 ° F. mP air is modified as it moves over elevated terrain. On the windward side of mountain ranges, mP air can produce an abundance of rain and snow. Once on the lee side of mountains, the mP airmass modifies into a continental airmass.

cP = Continental Polar

This airmass has low dewpoints, cold temperatures and a high degree of stability. The denseness of cP air creates surface high pressure and a trough aloft, especially when cP air moves into lower latitudes. Precipitation in association with cP air is usually light due to the dryness and low moisture capacity of the air. Precipitation is most common on the "edges" of cP air, especially where it intersects and displaces mT air. Precipitation within a cP air mass is elevated and dynamically induced. These dynamical uplift mechanisms include jet streaks, isentropic lifting and positive differential vorticity advection. Cold surface temperatures and a dry boundary layer inhibit thermodynamic convection

cT = Continental Tropical

The source region for cT air is the desert Southwest, the high plains and Mexico. The air has low dewpoints and warm to hot afternoon temperatures but with mild nighttime temperature. Due to the buoyancy and elevation of cT air across North America, this air will advect into the mid levels of the atmosphere once it moves out of its source region. This creates a cap of mild dry air. If this air advects over PBL mT air, the severe thunderstorm threat increases significantly. The boundary of cT is most noticeable with the creation of a dryline. A dryline separates mT air from cT air. Depending on the strength of the dryline, convergence along the dryline and the dynamics above the dryline, severe thunderstorms can form near a dryline boundary.

NYS Earth Science Regents Review Practice - Weather - Question 02 PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Earth Science Wizard   
Thursday, 19 November 2009 16:42

2. Ocean tides are best described as:

A) Unpredictable and cyclic

B) Unpredictable and noncyclical

C) Predictable and noncyclical

D) Predictable and cyclic

Correct Answer: Option D - Predictable and cyclic

Tides are the rising of Earth's ocean surface caused by the tidal forces of the Moon and the Sun acting on the oceans. Tides cause changes in the depth of the marine and estuarine water bodies and produce oscillating currents known as tidal streams, making prediction of tides important for coastal navigation. The strip of seashore that is submerged at high tide and exposed at low tide, the intertidal zone, is an important ecological product of ocean tides.


The changing tide produced at a given location is the result of the changing positions of the Moon and Sun relative to the Earth coupled with the effects of Earth rotation and the bathymetry of oceans, seas and estuaries. More generally, tidal phenomena can occur in other systems besides the ocean, whenever a gravitational field that varies in time and space is present. Hence, tides can be predicted and are cyclic since they are affected by the gravitation of Sun and the Moon.

The theoretical amplitude of oceanic tides caused by the Moon is about 54 cm at the highest point, which corresponds to the amplitude that would be reached if the ocean possessed a uniform depth, there were no landmasses, and the Earth were not rotating. The Sun similarly causes tides, of which the theoretical amplitude is about 25 cm (46% of that of the Moon) with a cycle time of 12 hours. At spring tide the two effects add to each other to a theoretical level of 79 cm, while at neap tide the theoretical level is reduced to 29 cm. Since the orbits of the Earth about the Sun, and the Moon about the Earth, are elliptical, the amplitudes of the tides change somewhat as a result of the varying Earth–Sun and Earth–Moon distances. This causes a variation in the tidal force and theoretical amplitude of about ±18% for the Moon and ±5% for the Sun. If both the Sun and Moon were at their closest positions and aligned at new moon, the theoretical amplitude would reach 93 cm.

Real amplitudes differ considerably, not only because of variations in ocean depth, and the obstacles to flow caused by the continents, but also because the natural period of wave propagation across the ocean is of the same order of magnitude as the rotation period: if there were no land masses, it would take about 30 hours for a long wavelength ocean surface wave to propagate along the equator halfway around the Earth

NYS Earth Science Regents Review Practice - Weather - Question 03 PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Earth Science Wizard   
Thursday, 19 November 2009 16:45

Base your answer to question 3 on the weather map below. Points A, B, C and D are locations on Earth’s surface.

3. The isolines on the map represent values of air:

A) Density

B) Pressure

C) Temperature

D) Humidity

Correct Answer: Option B – Pressure

A contour line (also level set, isopleth, isoline, isogram or isarithm) of a function of two variables is a curve along which the function has a constant value.

An isobar is a line of equal or constant pressure on a graph, plot, or map. More accurately, isobars are lines drawn on a map joining places of equal average atmospheric pressure reduced to sea level for a specified period of time. In meteorology, the barometric pressures shown are reduced to sea level, not the surface pressures at the map locations. The distribution of isobars is closely related to the magnitude and direction of the wind field, and can be used to predict future weather patterns.

Hence, the isolines in the map are representing air pressure and options A, C and D are incorrect.

NYS Earth Science Regents Review Practice - Weather - Question 04 PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Earth Science Wizard   
Thursday, 19 November 2009 16:55

Base your answer to question 4 on the weather map below. Points A, B, C and D are locations on Earth’s surface.

4. Which type of front extends southward from the center of the low?

A) Occluded

B) Warm

C) Cold

D) Stationary

Correct Answer: Option C – Cold

A cold front is defined as the leading edge of a cooler and drier mass of air, replacing (at ground level) a warmer mass of air. The cooler, denser air wedges under the less dense warmer air, lifting it, which can cause the formation of a narrow line of showers and thunderstorms when enough moisture is present. This upward motion causes lowered pressure along the cold front. Since cold air is denser than warm air, it rapidly replaces the warm air preceding the boundary. Cold fronts are usually associated with an area of low pressure. In the northern hemisphere, a cold front usually causes a shift of wind from southeast to northwest, and in the southern hemisphere a shift from northeast to southwest.

The weather map above shows the cold front extending southward.

Incorrect Options

An occluded front is formed during the process of cyclogenesis when a cold front overtakes a warm front

A warm front is defined as the leading edge of an advancing mass of warm air; it separates warm air from the colder air ahead.

A stationary front is a boundary between two different air masses, neither of which is strong enough to replace the other.

NYS Earth Science Regents Review Practice - Weather - Question 05 PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Earth Science Wizard   
Thursday, 19 November 2009 16:57

Base your answer to question 5 on the weather map below. Points A, B, C and D are locations on Earth’s surface.

5. The strongest winds are closest to location:

A) Location D

B) Location C

C) Location B

D) Location A

Correct Answer: Option D – Location A

Strong winds over a medium-to-large area are the result of large pressure gradients in a region between deep low pressure and significant high pressure. i.e., when the difference between barometric pressures from one region to another is significant, strong winds result as the atmosphere tries to balance out. This type of situation is depicted at location A in the map above.

Hence, options A, B and C are incorrect.

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