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A meteorological field trip at a mountain. The live session will take students on a virtual field trip with me to the Stone Mountain Environmental Education Center. As a live session, students will be able to ask questions and answer mine. The Stone Mountain Environmental Educational Center includes a geologic walk through earth history, illustrations of the origins of Stone Mountain and the Appalachian Mountains, guides to mineral and rock identification, guides to igneous structures, guides to the mechanical and chemical weathering of the mountain, an ecological tour, and a weather kiosk. The weather kiosk displays meteorological observations at the base of the mountain and at its summit. The sensors at the base are mounted atop the Center and are easily identified from the ground. During the field trip the current weather will be described: cloud cover, solar radiation, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, relative humidity, and temperature. These observations will allow calculation of the temperature gradient between the top and bottom of the mountain. The stability of the atmosphere will be determined from this calculation and from the observations of cloud cover and wind speed. The stability of the atmosphere will be used to explain the likelihood of cloud formation, fog dissipation, and dispersion of air pollutants.

Key Questions

What is a meteorological sensor? What are the types of sensors that measure the basic weather elements: wind, moisture, sunlight, barometric pressure, temperature, and precipitation? How accurately do these sensors measure the weather elements? What is a temperature gradient? What does atmospheric stability mean? How is temperature gradient related to atmospheric stability? How do cloud cover and wind speed influence atmospheric stability? Under which type of stability condition are clouds most likely to form? Under which type of stability condition is fog most likely to dissipate? Under which type of stability condition are pollutants most likely to disperse? Why are smokestacks so tall? Why do industries tend to release more smoke into the atmosphere from tall smokestacks at night?

Expected Outcomes

Define the terms wind, atmospheric moisture, barometric pressure, temperature in terms of the kinetic theory of gasses, anemometer, wind vane, barometer, radiometer, rain gage, temperature gradient, atmospheric stability, pollutant dispersion in the atmosphere

Identify which type of sensor is used to measure each type of weather element

Describe the accuracy of the meteorological sensors used to measure weather elements

Explain temperature gradient

Describe how atmospheric stability is determined by temperature gradient

Describe how wind and cloud cover influence atmospheric stability

Describe how atmospheric stability can affect local winds

Explain why clouds can form in a statically unstable atmosphere

Explain what causes fog to dissipate

Explain why pollutants are more likely to disperse in an unstable atmosphere than in a stable atmosphere


Curriculum Alignment