Fundamentals of Atmospheric Science

Summary and Final Tasks

Kinematics describes the behavior of atmospheric motion but not the cause. Streamlines provide snapshots of that motion and trajectories show where individual air parcels actually go. All atmospheric motion in the horizontal is made up of one or more of five distinct types of motion: translation, stretching deformation, shearing deformation, vorticity, and divergence. Stretching and shearing deformation lead to the formation or the dissolution of surface weather fronts. Vorticity describes the counter-clockwise rotation around low pressure (in the Northern Hemisphere) and clockwise rotation around high pressure (in the Northern Hemisphere) and is thus associated with much of weather. Divergence/convergence aloft leads to vertical winds that connect to convergence/divergence at the surface, and through this mechanism, air motion aloft communicates with air motion at the surface.

This lesson showed the mathematics necessary to quantify all of these processes. So besides identifying streamline confluence/diffluence, you practiced quantifying the five flow types from weather maps of streamlines with wind vectors. Finally, you calculated the vertical wind and its direction (up or down) based on the divergence/convergence of the winds aloft.

Reminder - Complete all of the Lesson 9 tasks!

You have reached the end of Lesson 9! Double-check that you have completed all of the activities before you begin Lesson 10.