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CHAPTER TWO
Atmospheric Mechanics of Winds, Clouds and Moisture, and Atmospheric Stability
200.
INTRODUCTION
This chapter introduces the student to the concepts associated with large- and small-scale wind
systems, the relationship between atmospheric temperature, moisture content, major cloud types,
and their effects on flight, as well as the various terms and requirements used to describe
atmospheric stability and instability.
Additionally, it covers a wide range of topics basic to the understanding of weather phenomena.
After an introduction to the meteorological station model, used in this chapter mainly to show
wind direction in diagrams, we build upon the pressure basics presented in Chapter One to
determine why winds blow in the particular direction that they do. To keep our analysis as
simple as possible, we will focus only on winds in the Northern Hemisphere. Since winds and
some forces in the Southern Hemisphere are a mirror image, discussing both patterns at this stage
would unnecessarily complicate things for a first-time introduction to weather.
The next topic covered is atmospheric moisture. Since most weather hazards have something to
do with moisture, it is important to understand how air becomes saturated, and how this will
affect the formation of clouds, fog, and precipitation. In fact, the two main types of precipitation
match up with two types of clouds. Clouds are classified according to the altitude of their bases,
and this chapter covers four major types of cloud. Eventually (and usually more often than
desired) all aviators will fly into clouds and thus an understanding of cloud composition and
activity will be essential to this course.
Cloud types can be a visual signal of atmospheric stability or instability. These two conditions
can be a further indication to meteorologists as well as to aircrew regarding the various weather
and flight conditions that may be encountered. There can be great differences in the expected
weather found between stable and unstable conditions, each with their own particular hazards to
flight. Consequently, knowing the relationships between atmospheric stability and flight
conditions could prove invaluable to an aviator.
201.
LESSON TOPIC LEARNING OBJECTIVES
Terminal Objective: Partially supported by this lesson topic:
2.0
Upon completion of this unit of instruction, student aviators and flight officers will
demonstrate knowledge of meteorological theory enabling them to make intelligent
decisions when confronted with various weather phenomena and hazards.
Enabling Objectives: Completely supported by this lesson topic:
2.12
Explain the term pressure gradient.
2.13
Explain Coriolis force and its apparent effect on wind.
Atmospheric Mechanics of Winds, Clouds and Moisture, and Atmospheric Stability
2-1


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