Atmosphere and Ocean

Practice exam questions written by Timothy H. Heaton,
Professor of Earth Sciences, University of South Dakota

Click the circle by an answer with the mouse, then click on the Submit button to get a response. You will be told if your answer is correct or not and will be given some comments.

  1. What is the correct order of atmospheric layers from bottom to top?
    Stratosphere, Mesosphere, Troposphere, Thermosphere, Exosphere.
    Stratosphere, Troposphere, Mesosphere, Thermosphere, Exosphere.
    Stratosphere, Troposphere, Thermosphere, Mesosphere, Exosphere.
    Troposphere, Mesosphere, Stratosphere, Thermosphere, Exosphere.
    Troposphere, Stratosphere, Mesosphere, Thermosphere, Exosphere.

  2. Which layer of the atmosphere contains the ozone layer?
    Exosphere.
    Mesosphere.
    Stratosphere.
    Thermosphere.
    Troposphere.

  3. In which layer do virtually all weather phenomena take place?
    Exosphere.
    Mesosphere.
    Stratosphere.
    Thermosphere.
    Troposphere.

  4. Which two atmospheric layers have temperature profiles that promote convection?
    Mesosphere and Stratosphere.
    Mesosphere and Thermosphere.
    Mesosphere and Troposphere.
    Stratosphere and Thermosphere.
    Stratosphere and Troposphere.

  5. What consequence does the coriolis effect have, relative to the Earth's surface, on masses of air or water that are changing latitude?
    The results are unpredictable; currents can veer right or left in either hemisphere.
    They veer to the left in the northern hemisphere and to the right in the southern hemisphere.
    They veer to the right in the northern hemisphere and to the left in the southern hemisphere.
    They veer to the right in both hemispheres.
    They veer to the left in both hemispheres.

  6. What phenomenon does the Coriolis effect arise from?
    Curvature of the earth's surface.
    Rotation of the earth around its axis.
    Rotation of the earth around the sun.
    Effect of winds high in the atmosphere.
    Motion of the oceans in their basins.

  7. At what latitude are prevailing westerly winds typically found?
    0.
    15.
    30.
    50.
    70.
    85.

  8. What is the most abundant dissolved ion in the oceans?
    Calcium.
    Chlorine.
    Magnesium.
    Sodium.
    Sulfate.

  9. What value is salinity usually measured in?
    Calories.
    Ounces.
    Parts per million.
    Parts per thousand.
    Percent.

  10. What is a typical salinity value for the oceans?
    5 o/oo.
    10 o/oo.
    15 o/oo.
    25 o/oo.
    35 o/oo.

  11. Where does ocean salinity tend to be the highest?
    At desert latitudes.
    In deeper water.
    Near the equator.
    Near the poles.
    Near river mouths.

  12. What surface salinity conditions characterize the Mediterranean Sea?
    Salinity decreases eastward toward Israel because of runoff.
    Salinity decreases eastward toward Israel because of upwelling.
    Salinity increases eastward toward Israel because of evaporation.
    Salinity increases eastward toward Israel because of upwelling.
    Salinity remains uniform and similar to the open ocean throughout.

  13. What primarily drives the surface ocean currents?
    Coriolis forces.
    Deep sea vents.
    Density differences between water bodies.
    Rotation of the earth.
    Winds.

  14. What primarily drives the deep ocean currents?
    Coriolis forces.
    Deep sea vents.
    Density differences between water bodies.
    Rotation of the earth.
    Winds.

  15. In most ocean basins, how does surface water circulate?
    It circulates counterclockwise (CCW) in both hemispheres.
    It circulates clockwise (CW) in both hemispheres.
    In circulates CCW in the northern hemisphere and CW in the southern hemisphere.
    In circulates CW in the northern hemisphere and CCW in the southern hemisphere.
    There is no general pattern, and each ocean behaves completely differently.

  16. Where are the major ocean basins most connected to one another such that substantial water is exchanged between them?
    Around Antarctica.
    At the North Pole.
    Near the equator.
    Throughout the northern hemisphere.
    Throughout the southern hemisphere.

  17. Which statement characterizes the Gulf Stream?
    Cold water moving south along the east coast of North America.
    Cold water moving south along the west coast of Europe and Africa.
    Warm water moving east along the equator.
    Warm water moving north and east across the north Atlantic.
    Warm water moving north and west into the Caribbean Sea.

  18. What is the thermocline?
    The coldest part of the ocean.
    The hottest part of the ocean.
    The zone of greatest heat loss.
    The zone of greatest temperature change.
    The zone of greatest salinity change.

  19. Where does deep upwelling usually occur?
    In the middle of the oceans.
    Near continents.
    Near the equator.
    Near the poles.
    Near trenches.

  20. Under what conditions does coastal upwelling commonly occur?
    Only where biotic productivity is high enough to sustain it.
    Only on the eastern coasts of continents.
    Only on the western coasts of continents.
    Where winds blow toward shore or Ekman flow carries surface water toward shore.
    Where winds blow away from shore or Ekman flow carries surface water away from shore.

  21. What determines wave speed in the open oceans?
    Wave height.
    Wave length.
    Wind velocity.
    All of the above.
    Wave speed is constant regardless of these factors.

  22. What is Surf?
    Capillary waves generated by light winds.
    Fully-developed waves generated by strong winds.
    Waves that grow larger the farther they travel.
    Waves moving out of the generating area.
    Waves moving into shallow water and eventually breaking.

  23. What is Swell?
    Capillary waves generated by light winds.
    Fully-developed waves generated by strong winds.
    Waves that grow larger the farther they travel.
    Waves moving out of the generating area.
    Waves moving into shallow water and eventually breaking.

Please report any problems or errors to Dr. Heaton.