Weather and Climatic Interactions

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Standards:

8(10) Earth and space. The student knows that climatic interactions exist among Earth, ocean, and weather systems. The student is expected to:

(A) recognize that the Sun provides the energy that drives convection within the atmosphere and oceans, producing winds and ocean currents;

(B) identify how global patterns of atmospheric movement influence local weather using weather maps that show high and low pressures and fronts; and

(C) identify the role of the oceans in the formation of weather systems such as hurricanes.

Preliminary Concepts:

  • The difference between climate and weather
  • Density and its relationship to temperature in fluids
  • Convection
  • How energy can be transferred
  • Pressure

Misconceptions about weather and about climate

  • Some students may think that weather is not a science; they may think that meteorologists just guess the forecast.
  • There are many misconceptions about clouds, what they are and how they form, and why it rains.
  • Students may not know the difference between weather and climate, and may think they are the same thing.
  • Many people confuse the concept of global warming with the ozone hole.  While the depletion of ozone is a small factor in climate change, it is a problem that is more related to CFCs and scientists believe that we have made measurable steps in “fixing” the ozone hole.
  • Many people mistakenly assume that the infrared radiation from the Sun is what is responsible for warming the Earth, or that the Sun sends heat directly through space to Earth.  Instead, the visible and infrared sunlight are absorbed by the Earth’s surface.
  • Most people are unaware of the relationships between the Sun’s energy, winds, currents, and hurricanes.
  • A variety of misconceptions are included in an online paper presented at NARST, which reviewed the literature: http://www.csulb.edu/~lhenriqu/NARST2000.htm

Activities

(A) Recognize that the Sun provides the energy that drives convection within the atmosphere and oceans, producing winds and ocean currents;
  • A Comparison of Land and Water Temperature
    Students examine NASA satellite observations of surface temperature
  • Fireproof Balloon
    This demonstration can be used to get students to think about heat capacity.
  • Are Cold Liquids More Dense than Warm Liquids?
    Verifying that warmer air is lighter than cooler air helps to take some of the abstractness out of developing a basic understanding of weather.  Students examine this principal with liquids instead of gases.
  • Weather Stations: Winds
    Students use a toaster to generate wind and discover that convection drives wind. Note: the teachers expressed a preference for the paper spiral activity (below) over this one.
  • Mystery Snake
    Page 115 of this has the outline for a paper spiral that students can cut out and suspend with string over a lamp. As the air heats, the paper spiral will turn due to convection.
(B) Identify how global patterns of atmospheric movement influence local weather using weather maps that show high and low pressures and fronts;

The STORM Project

Activity 7: Precipitation Patterns
http://www.uni.edu/storm/activities/level2/act7.shtml
http://www.uni.edu/storm/downloads/Level2/Precipitation%20Patterns-7.pdf
Students will demonstrate the relationship between precipitation types and surface temperatures. They will use forecast maps to predict where snow or rain will fall over the next several days.

Sorting activities created by STEP member Jennifer Brian, inspired by Region XIII activities. 

Worksheets created by STEP member Kira Arter, using online activities.

This draft by Christine Shupla is meant to help students consolidate their understanding of fronts

(C) Identify the role of the oceans in the formation of weather systems such as hurricanes.
  • Hurricanes As Heat Engines
    Students examine authentic sea surface temperature data to explore how hurricanes extract heat energy from the ocean surface

Resources