Essentials of Meteorology An Invitation to the Atmosphere 6th Edition C.Donald – Test Bank


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Chapter 5

Cloud Development and Precipitation


Multiple Choice Exam Questions


  1. A rising parcel of air that does not exchange heat with its surroundings is referred to as
  2. isothermal ascent.
  3. an adiabatic process.
  4. forced lifting.
  5. advection.




  1. If the environmental lapse rate is 5o C per 1000 m and the temperature at the earth’s surface is 25o C, then the air temperature at 2000 m above the ground is
  2. 25o C.
  3. 30o C.
  4. 20o C.
  5. 15o C.




  1. If a parcel of unsaturated air with a temperature of 30o C rises from the surface to an altitude of 1000 m, the unsaturated parcel temperature at this altitude would be about
  2. 10o C warmer than at the surface.
  3. 10o C colder than at the surface.
  4. 6o C colder than at the surface.
  5. impossible to tell from the data given




  1. If an air parcel is given a small push upward and it falls back to its original position, the atmosphere is said to be
  2. stable.
  3. unstable.
  4. isothermal.
  5. neutral.
  6. adiabatic.




  1. If an air parcel is given a small push upward and it continues to move upward on its own accord,

the atmosphere is said to be

  1. stable.
  2. unstable.
  3. buoyant.
  4. dynamic.




  1. The rate at which the temperature changes inside a rising (or descending) parcel of saturated air is called
  2. the environmental lapse rate.
  3. the dry adiabatic lapse rate.
  4. the moist adiabatic lapse rate.
  5. the latent heat release rate.




  1. The dry adiabatic rate is the rate at which
  2. an air parcel rises.
  3. temperature changes in a rising or descending parcel of unsaturated air.
  4. volume changes when a parcel expands or is compressed.
  5. latent heat energy is released in a rising air parcel.




  1. The most latent heat would be released in a  parcel of       saturated air.
  2. rising, warm
  3. rising, cold
  4. sinking, warm
  5. sinking, cold




  1. Which of the following environmental lapse rates would represent the most unstable conditions in a layer of unsaturated air?
  2. 1o C per 1000 m
  3. 3o C per 1000 m
  4. 6o C per 1000 m
  5. 9o C per 1000 m
  6. 11o C per 1000 m




  1. In a conditionally unstable atmosphere, the environmental lapse rate will

be       than the moist adiabatic rate and       than the dry adiabatic rate.

  1. greater, less
  2. greater, greater
  3. less, greater
  4. less, less





  1. A conditionally unstable atmosphere is  with respect to unsaturated air

and       with respect to saturated air.

  1. unstable, stable
  2. unstable, unstable
  3. stable, unstable
  4. stable, stable




  1. If the environmental air temperature decreases at a rate of 8o C/km, the atmosphere would be considered
  2. absolutely stable.
  3. conditionally unstable.
  4. absolutely unstable.
  5. neutrally stable.




  1. The reason that rising saturated air cools at a lesser rate than rising unsaturated air is
  2. rising saturated air is heavier.
  3. rising saturated air is lighter.
  4. unsaturated air expands more rapidly.
  5. saturated air has a higher heat capacity.
  6. latent heat is released by rising saturated air.




  1. If the environmental lapse rate is less than the moist adiabatic rate,

the atmosphere is

  1. conditionally unstable.
  2. absolutely stable.
  3. absolutely unstable.
  4. neutrally stable.




  1. The difference between the “moist” and “dry” adiabatic rates is due to the fact that
  2. saturated air is always unstable.
  3. an unsaturated air parcel expands more rapidly than a saturated air parcel.
  4. moist air weighs less than dry air.
  5. latent heat is released by a rising parcel of saturated air.




  1. Which condition below would make a layer of air more unstable?
  2. an increase in wind speed
  3. lifting the entire air layer
  4. cooling the upper part of the layer
  5. all of these




  1. When the environmental lapse rate decreases more rapidly with height than the dry adiabatic rate, the atmosphere is
  2. absolutely stable.
  3. absolutely unstable.
  4. convectively unstable.
  5. conditionally unstable.




  1. Most thunderstorms do not extend very far into the stratosphere because the air in the stratosphere is
  2. unstable.
  3. stable.
  4. too cold.
  5. too thin.
  6. too dry.




  1. An inversion represents an extremely stable atmosphere because air that rises into the inversion will eventually become  and       dense than the surrounding air.
  2. warmer, less
  3. warmer, more
  4. colder, less
  5. colder, more




  1. Which set of conditions, working together, will make the atmosphere the most stable?
  2. cool the surface and warm the air aloft
  3. cool the surface and cool the air aloft
  4. warm the surface and cool the air aloft
  5. warm the surface and warm the air aloft




  1. What two sets of conditions, working together, will make the atmosphere the most unstable?
  2. cool the surface and warm the air aloft
  3. cool the surface and cool the air aloft
  4. warm the surface and cool the air aloft
  5. warm the surface and warm the air aloft




  1. Which cloud type would most likely form in absolutely stable air?
  2. cumulus congestus
  3. cumulonimbus
  4. stratus
  5. altocumulus




  1. Which cloud type below would most likely form in an unstable atmosphere?
  2. cumulonimbus
  3. stratus
  4. cirrostratus
  5. nimbostratus
  6. cumulus humilis




  1. Subsidence inversions are best developed with high pressure areas because of

the       air motions associated with them causes the air to      .

  1. rising, cool
  2. sinking, cool
  3. rising, warm
  4. sinking, warm




  1. Which of the following sets of conditions would produce a cumulus cloud with the lowest base?
  2. air temperature 90o F, dew point temperature 50o F
  3. air temperature 90o F, dew point temperature 40o F
  4. air temperature 90o F, dew point temperature 60o F
  5. air temperature 90o F, dew point temperature 20o F




  1. Which of the following statements is correct?
  2. convection can occur over the ocean
  3. air motions are usually downward in the clear skies surrounding a cumulus cloud
  4. the temperature of the rising air at a given level inside a cumulus cloud is

normally warmer that the air around the cloud

  1. all of these




  1. Which of the following is not a way of producing clouds?
  2. lifting air along a topographic barrier
  3. lifting air along a front
  4. warming the surface of the earth
  5. convergence of surface air
  6. air motions caused by subsidence




  1. An example of orographic clouds would be
  2. clouds forming over a warm ocean current.
  3. clouds forming on the windward slope of a mountain.
  4. clouds forming behind a jet airplane.
  5. clouds formed by surface heating.




  1. Which of the following is not an important factor in the production of rain by the collision-coalescence process?
  2. the updrafts in the cloud
  3. relative size of the droplets
  4. the number of ice crystals in the cloud
  5. cloud thickness
  6. the electric charge of the droplets




  1. Which of the following cloud types would commonly be found downwind of a mountain?
  2. lenticular clouds
  3. anvil clouds
  4. mammatus clouds
  5. contrails




  1. If you observe large raindrops hitting the ground, you could probably say that the cloud overhead

was       and had       updrafts.

  1. thick, weak
  2. thick, strong
  3. thin, weak
  4. thin, strong




  1. Which cloud type below will only produce precipitation by the collision-coalescence process?
  2. a thick, cold nimbostratus cloud
  3. a thick, warm cumulus cloud
  4. a thick, cold cumulus cloud
  5. a thick, supercooled cumulonimbus cloud with abundant nuclei
  6. a supercooled cumulus congestus cloud




  1. During the ice crystal process of rain formation
  2. only ice crystals need be present in a cloud.
  3. ice crystals grow larger at the expense of the surrounding liquid cloud droplets.
  4. the temperature in the cloud must be -40o C (-40o F) or below.
  5. the cloud must be a cumuliform cloud.




  1. Most rain at middle latitudes is produced by the ice crystal process. This is because
  2. ice crystal nuclei are more plentiful than condensation nuclei.
  3. most clouds form in cold regions of the atmosphere.
  4. ice crystals evaporate more slowly than water droplets.
  5. most rain occurs during the winter.




  1. The ice crystal process of precipitation formation operates in the mixed ice and water phase region of a cold cloud where there are ice crystals and
  2. supercooled drops.
  3. updrafts and downdrafts.
  4. cloud condensation nuclei.
  5. positive and negative electrical charges.




  1. The most common ice crystal shape is
  2. graupel.
  3. a dendrite.
  4. rime.
  5. virga.




  1. Cloud seeding using silver iodide only works in
  2. cold clouds composed entirely of ice crystals.
  3. warm clouds composed entirely of water droplets.
  4. cold clouds composed of ice crystals and supercooled droplets.
  5. cumuliform clouds.




  1. If rain falls on one side of a street and not on the other side, the rain most likely fell from a
  2. nimbostratus cloud.
  3. stratus cloud.
  4. cumulonimbus cloud.
  5. altostratus cloud.
  6. altocumulus cloud.





  1. Which of the following would you not expect to fall from a nimbostratus cloud?
  2. snow
  3. drizzle
  4. sleet
  5. graupel




  1. Aircraft icing would be heaviest and most severe
  2. in the cloud at warmer than freezing temperatures.
  3. in the cloud at just below freezing temperatures.
  4. in the cloud at well below freezing temperatures.
  5. outside the cloud at below freezing temperatures.




  1. A raindrop which freezes before reaching the ground is called
  2. snow.
  3. graupel.
  4. sleet.
  5. glaze.




  1. Which of the following might be mistaken for hail?
  2. virga
  3. graupel
  4. dendrite
  5. supercooled droplet




  1. A true blizzard is characterized by
  2. low temperatures.
  3. strong winds.
  4. reduced visibility.
  5. blowing snow.
  6. all of these.




  1. In the winter you read in the newspaper that a large section of the Midwest is without power due to downed power lines. Which form of precipitation would most likely produce this situation?
  2. snow
  3. hail
  4. freezing rain
  5. sleet
  6. rain




  1. The largest snowflakes would probably be observed in  air whose temperature is       freezing.
  2. moist, near
  3. dry, near
  4. moist, well below
  5. dry, well below




  1. You would use a wooden stick to measure rainfall in the
  2. tipping bucket rain gauge.
  3. standard rain gauge.
  4. weighing rain gauge.
  5. Ozarks.




  1. Radar gathers information about precipitation in clouds by measuring the
  2. energy emitted by the precipitation particles.
  3. absorption characteristics of falling precipitation.
  4. amount of energy reflected back to a transmitter.
  5. amount of sunlight scattered off the precipitation.
  6. amount of solar energy passing through the cloud.




  1. Which of the following statements is not correct?
  2. Generally, the smaller the pure water droplet, the lower the temperature at

which it will freeze

  1. Ice nuclei are more plentiful in the atmosphere than condensation nuclei
  2. Much of the rain falling in middle northern latitudes begins as snow
  3. Ice crystals may grow in a cold cloud even though supercooled droplets do not.




  1. Ice nuclei may be:
  2. ice crystals
  3. certain clay minerals
  4. bacteria in decaying plant leaf material
  5. all of these




  1. At the same sub-freezing temperature, the saturation vapor pressure just above a liquid water surface is __________ the saturation vapor pressure above an ice surface.
  2. greater than
  3. the same as
  4. less than



True False Exam Questions


  1. Rising parcels of dry and moist air cool at the same rate as long as the moist air doesn’t become saturated.

(ans: TRUE)


  1. The temperature of the air in a rising parcel of air will always be the same as that of the surrounding air.

(ans: FALSE)


  1. A rising air parcel will always cool. Environmental temperatures can increase or decrease with increasing altitude.

(ans: TRUE)


  1. Relatively small precipitation particles fall from thunderstorms because the strong updrafts tend to break apart growing raindrops.

(ans: FALSE)


  1. In the summer at middle latitudes, the collision-coalescence process is the dominant precipitation-producing process.

(ans: FALSE)


  1. Supercooled water droplets are more plentiful than ice crystals in certain regions of cold clouds.

(ans: TRUE)


  1. Supercooled water droplets and ice crystals form readily in cold clouds because of the abundance of cloud droplet and ice crystal nuclei.

(ans: FALSE)


  1. Falling raindrops have a nearly spherical shape because that is the profile that minimizes air resistance.

(ans: FALSE)


  1. Visibility generally improves after a rain storm.

(ans: TRUE)


  1. Hail can fall from both cumulonimbus and nimbostratus clouds.

(ans: FALSE)


  1. Clouds often form in sinking air.

(ans: FALSE)


  1. In the northeastern United States, rainbows usually form in winter.

(ans: FALSE)





Word Choice Exam Questions


  1. In a stable atmosphere, a rising parcel of air will become WARMER  COLDER  than and  MORE  LESS  dense than the surrounding atmosphere. (choose one word from each pair)



  1. Stratiform clouds form in a STABLE  UNSTABLE  atmosphere and grow mainly in a  HORIZONTAL  VERTICAL  direction. (choose one word from each pair)



  1. During an OROGRAPHIC ADIABATIC process, an air parcel warms or cools without exchanging energy with the surrounding environment.  (circle one answer)



  1. Would you expect a region in a “rain shadow” to have ABUNDANT  or  INFREQUENT  precipitation?

(circle one answer)



  1. Would you expect the largest raindrops to form in a cloud with STRONG  or  WEAK  updrafts? (circle one answer)

(ans: STRONG)


  1. Does the collision and coalescence process work best when all the drops are the SAME  or  DIFFERENT sizes? (circle one answer)



  1. For precipitation to develop via the ice crystal process, it is important to have many MORE  FEWER  ice crystals than supercooled droplets in the mixed ice and water phase region of a cold cloud. (circle one answer)

(ans: FEWER)


  1. A mixed ice and water phase region is found in clouds at temperatures just ABOVE  BELOW  freezing. (circle one answer)

(ans: BELOW)


  1. Does accretion (riming) occur during the ICE CRYSTAL  process or the  COLLISION COALESCENCE process?  Does accretion make a precipitation particle  LARGER  or  SMALLER? (choose one word from each pair)



  1. Cumulus congestus clouds SOMETIMES ALWAYS grow into CUMULUS CUMULONIMBUS clouds. (choose one word from each pair)






Short Answer Exam Questions


  1. In an adiabatic process, there is no exchange of  between a parcel and the surrounding environment.

(ans: HEAT)


  1. The stability of the air is determined by comparing the  in a rising air parcel to that of the surrounding environment.



  1. A(n) is a hot “bubble” of air that breaks away from the ground and starts to rise.

(ans: THERMAL)


  1. Convection and convergence are two ways of causing rising air motions. What two additional processes are there?



  1. Falling drops of water greater than 0.5 mm in diameter are called rain. What would drops with diameters less than 0.5 mm be called?

(ans: DRIZZLE)


  1. Water vapor moves from supercooled water droplets towards ice crystals in cold clouds because

the                      just above the drop is greater than above the ice crystal surface.



  1. The common name for an aggregate of ice crystals is a(n) .



  1. The largest precipitation particle is            .

(ans: HAIL)



  1. On average about  inches of snow is equivalent to one inch of rain.

(ans: TEN)


  1. By measuring the change in the  of reflected radio waves, scientists can use Doppler radar to measure the speed at which precipitation is moving toward or away from the radar antenna.











Essay Exam Questions


  1. Why are thunderstorms unlikely to form during stable conditions?


  1. How can clouds form over the ocean where there is no orographic lifting?


  1. What atmospheric conditions produce aircraft icing?


  1. Explain how atmospheric stability can affect the types of clouds that form.


  1. Would you expect to find a subsidence inversion to be associated with high or low pressure? What effects might a subsidence inversion have on weather conditions at the ground?


  1. Does radiational cooling at the ground at night act to increase or decrease atmospheric stability? How does daytime heating at the ground during the day affect atmospheric stability?


  1. Based on atmospheric stability considerations, do you think it would be best to burn agricultural debris in the early morning or the afternoon?


  1. Explain why the surface air on the downwind side of a mountain can be drier than the surface air on the upwind side. What is this effect called?  Can you think of a location in the United States where this might actually occur?


  1. Is silver iodide used as a cloud seeding agent in warm or cold clouds? Explain.


  1. What types of clouds might you expect to see form when a cold mass of air moves over warmer water?


  1. Would you expect the largest forms of precipitation particles to occur during the warmest or the coldest time of year? Explain.


  1. What is the main difference between a raindrop and a cloud droplet?


  1. Can you think of any other examples in nature, besides a cloud droplet, in which something increases 1,000 times in size in only a few minutes?


  1. The first raindrops to reach the ground at the beginning of a rain shower are often very large. Why do you think this is so?


  1. Thunderstorm cloud bases are generally higher above the ground in Arizona than in Florida. Why do you think this is true?


  1. How large can raindrops get? Why can’t they get any larger?


  1. Would you expect the heaviest snowfall to occur on an unusually cold night or a night when the temperature was just a little below freezing?


  1. Cumulonimbus clouds indicate unstable atmospheric conditions. What causes the tops of cumulonimbus clouds to flatten out into an anvil?


  1. Explain why it is much more difficult to measure snowfall amount than rainfall amount.


  1. Suggest a design for an automated instrument to measure snowfall. How might it work?




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