You will need to be able to answer the following questions
in order to correctly answer all the multiple choice and matching questions on the midterm exam II. Some questions (as noted) can be answered
most easily with a drawing or diagram. Be sure to LABEL the important parts of
your diagram. Drawing and labeling
diagrams and creating “concept maps” are very effective means of remembering
and understanding information, particularly science material. Terms highlighted in red are extra important
1. What is salinity? How
is it measured?
2. List the two ions with the highest concentrations in seawater. Indicate which ion is a cation and which is an anion. Which salt consists of a combination of these two ions (spell out the name, not just the chemical formula)?
Explain what oceanographers mean when they say that a dissolved ion or
salt is conservative
Give an explanation for the observation, based on evaporite composition, that sea salt concentration and composition have been nearly constant for about the last 1
Why are oxygen concentrations higher in ocean surface waters and lower in the deep ocean?
Why are carbon dioxide concentrations
lower in ocean surface waters and higher in the deep ocean?
What are nutrients?
Give the names of two nutrients and briefly describe their importance in the
The energy that the Earth receives from the sun is
returned to space by two processes, reflection and re-radiation.
Describe, briefly, what happens to the sun's energy when it is reflected and when it is re-radiated.
In the heat budget of
the Earth, which two things must balance (or be equal to one another)? What
would be the consequence if this balance did not exist?
10. Why are the equatorial regions of the Earth,
on average, hotter than the polar regions?
11. How does evaporation
of water from the oceans result in a transfer of
heat to the atmosphere?
12. Why is carbon dioxide called a
13. Why is the concentration
of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere increasing?
14. It is difficult for scientists to predict how
much the Earth's climate will warm, if the concentration of carbon dioxide in
the Earth's atmosphere doubles over the next 50 years. Describe one of the
reasons for this difficulty.
15. Why is the salinity
of ocean water greater near 30° N than it is near 60° N latitude?
16. List two processes that increase the salinity of seawater, and two
processes that decrease the salinity of seawater.
17. List two properties of water that affect water density, and, for each, indicate
whether density would increase or decrease if that property increased.
18. Define the terms thermocline and halocline, and pycnocline.
19. What condition exists when a water column is unstable? Briefly describe one way in
which a water column can become unstable.
20. Define thermohaline circulation.
21. In which regions of the ocean do deep and bottom waters
form? Why is the formation of deep and bottom waters
confined to these regions?
22. A hypothesis has been proposed that states
there is a link between the climate of northern
23. Oceanographers say that the deep and bottom waters of the
24. Define the term water mass.
25. Explain why a parcel of air which was originally
moving directly northward from the equator is displaced to the east, so that it
travels to the northeast of its original position. (Note that it is not sufficient to name the effect
responsible (Coriolis effect); you must explain
what causes this effect (Coriolis effect)).
26. Unusually large amounts of rainfall occur
near the equator. Why?
27. Between the equator and 30° N, the
winds generally blow from the northeast (the Northeast
Trade Winds). How do atmospheric convection
and the Earth's rotation produce this wind pattern? A diagram
may be helpful in answering this question.
28. Between 30°S and 60°S latitude, the winds
generally blow from the northwest (the Westerlies;
this wind band includes the "Roaring Forties" and "Furious
Fifties" of sailors' lore). How do atmospheric convection and the Earth's
rotation produce this wind pattern? A diagram may be helpful in answering this
29. Why is low atmospheric pressure generally found over the oceans of the Northern Hemisphere in winter?
30. Why do winds in the Northern Hemisphere
generally blow counterclockwise around low pressure areas? A diagram may be
helpful in answering this question.
31. What causes the wet, or summer, monsoon found along the west coast of
32. Although El Niño
was first noted along the west coast of
33. Why do hurricanes
form only in the tropics?
34. What is the Ekman
Spiral? How is it related to Ekman Transport?
(A diagram may be helpful in answering this
35. How does Ekman
Transport cause coastal upwelling? (A diagram may be helpful in
answering this question.)
36. What is an ocean gyre?
37. What are eddies?
How do they form?
38. Define the terms divergence, convergence, upwelling, and downwelling.
39. Describe how the divergence and convergence of ocean currents can cause upwelling and downwelling, respectively.
40. Describe how prevailing winds blowing parallel to a coastline can cause either, upwelling and downwelling.
41. Define thermohaline circulation, and its role in ocean
42. List the five common water masses found in the temperate and tropical latitudes.
Illustrate a general temperature-salinity (T-S) diagram,
and show how different sets of T-S values for different water masses can have
44. Name, describe, and elaborate on the origin and activity of the three major deep-water masses.
45. Describe and
illustrate the classic model of pure thermohaline
46. What is the process of “caballing”?
What is the vast global-scale ocean circulation system current system
termed the “global conveyor
belt for heat transport”?
48. What are the two traditional types of
methods for measuring currents?
49. Which type
of current measuring method works best for each type of water mass?
50. What is “acoustical tomography”, and what is its usefulness in
studying ocean currents?
Essay Questions - A super effective means of “getting down” the science terms and concepts is to answer questions in essay form (usually require answers of about 10 sentences in length). The following are key questions concerning the material covered for this midterm exam:
1. Describe the Earth’s heat budget. It is not necessary to give a
quantitative answer, but your answer should include a description of the major
processes affecting the sun’s energy after it enters the Earth’s
atmosphere. How will increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in the Earth’s
atmosphere affect the Earth’s heat budget? Indicate the specific
processes affected as well as the overall effect on the budget.
Describe the changes in water density in
the upper ocean layer over the annual cycles at tropical,
temperate, and polar
latitudes and the
corresponding changes in water temperature. Indicate at which times of year, in each region, that
the water column is unstable
and mixing with underlying water occurs. Diagrams may make this easier.
3 Describe the
circulation of the
From 0° to 30° N latitude, the Northeast trade
winds blow from the northeast; between 30° and 60° N
latitude, the Westerlies blow from the
southwest. Explain how this
wind pattern, in along with the Earth’s rotation
(Coriolis effect), causes the clockwise flow of
currents circling the
5. Define and
discuss in adequate detail the vast global-scale ocean circulation system
current system termed the “global
conveyor belt for heat transport”. Also discuss how it has primary importance
in moderating and shaping Earth’s climate