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Question Set: Wind Formation and Precipitation
NGSS Crosscutting Concepts
NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas
  1. What is wind? How does wind develop?
  2. How can air become more dense? How can air become less dense?
  3. How are convection currents produced in the atmosphere?
  4. Weather reports often include the terms “high-pressure” and “low-pressure” air masses.
    1. What do these terms mean?
    2. What kind of weather do you think is typically associated with high- and low- air pressure air masses? Why?
  5. How can the formation of tiny liquid water droplets increase the density of a cloud?
  6. Do you think weather is predictable? Explain the reasoning for your answer.


Fig. 3.2. This weather map illustrates high pressure (H) and low pressure (L) weather systems across North America.

Image courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  1. Refer to the weather map in Fig. 3.2. When we talk about weather, we talk about the condition of the atmosphere above some part of the Earth. These are conditions we can see and feel. For example, it may be hot, cold, stormy, rainy, snowy, wet, or dry. What do you think the weather is like in
    1. San Francisco, California?
    2. Charleston, West Virginia?
    3. What is the evidence for your answers?
  2. A front is a boundary between two different air masses. On weather maps like Fig. 3.2, cold fronts are represented by blue triangles. Warm fronts are represented by red half-circles. The air masses are moving in the direction of the symbols. What change, if any, in the weather can people in the following locations expect?
    1. Galveston, Texas
    2. Tucson, Arizona
    3. St. Louis, Missouri
  3. Apply what you know about changes in air temperature and pressure with altitude to explain why leeward sides of mountain ranges are often dry.
  4. When Polynesian voyagers using traditional navigation techniques to sail between islands, one of the signs of land they look for is a clump of clouds on the horizon. Why do you think a concentrated area of clouds might indicate the presence of land?
Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawaii, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.