The second semester has finally begun and with it the frenzy that is AP Environmental Science (affectionately known as APES). While I love this course and this class, the pace is brutal to say the least. Oh to have the glorious year of time that I have with my AP Biology class. Maybe one of these days. Anyway, we've been flying through the basics of Earth science; biogeochemical cycles, the atmosphere, biomes, all that good stuff. One of the topics that we spend a little time on in basic earth science but expand on much more fully in APES is the Coriolis Effect. The curious force that causes objects to chart a curved path across the earth is responsible for much of the weather phenomena that we experience on a daily basis. As you will soon read, the class did a lab about the Coriolis Force last week. Before you read their accounts, however, I would encourage you to take a second to view this gorgeous visualization of the Earth's oceanic currents. One of the easiest ways to see the Coriolis Force in action.
This week's review (1/20-1/24) review comes to us courtesy of Colleen Yang, Vanessa Ramos, and Michelle Dewitt.
As groups in Mr. Kite’s class, we conducted interesting models on the Coriolis effect in relationship to the rotation of the Earth. The activity clarified this idea of how objects would not fall straight if dropped from the poles towards the equator. We drew lines on a spinning globe and platform to represent the curves whether the objects were turning clockwise or counterclockwise. It helped us to visually picture the Coriolis effect more clearly. We also learned how the winds and currents shift across the world and differentiate in the two hemispheres. In the northern hemisphere they would move in a counterclockwise direction and in the southern hemisphere they would move in a clockwise direction. Mr. Kite showed us an intriguing video on the movements of these currents traveling across the globe and switching directions once they passed the equator. It was also fascinating to see everything reverse when El Nino occurred!
Vanessa Ramos adds:
This week we learned about the Coriolis effect. This says that since the earth is constantly moving in a circle from the west to the east something that we throw from the North Pole to the equator will not travel in a straight line. If you were looking at the earth from the North Pole in a horizontal position you would see tha tit moves clockwise. If you were to see it from the South Pole the earth moves counterclockwise. We did an activity where we were to put our pen in the middle of a moving plate and try to make it to the edge of the plate while the plate moved clockwise or counterclockwise. When we tried to move the pen it would not go straight but always curved or would turn in a spiral. This effect allows for winds to move in a certain direction to transport the warm air to the north and South Pole and the cool air to the equator. This will help the equator from getting to hot and the north and south poles from getting to cold.
In class this week, one of the major things we talked about are the five layers of the atmosphere and their functions. The exosphere is the boundary to space and has the lowest air pressure. The thermosphere has low air pressure and this is where the northern lights take place, the mesosphere absorbs x-ray radiation, stratosphere, also called the ozone, absorbs UV radiation, and troposphere is were there is high pressure, and where all the weather occurs.