Test: Climatology - 1

20 Questions MCQ Test Geography for UPSC CSE | Test: Climatology - 1

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All changes in the weather are ultimately caused by the

  • Rotation of Earth does cause wind movements; change of day and night; distribution of heat on Earth etc. However, it does not explain several other phenomena such as seasons on Earth; extreme heat and cold in Poles etc.

  • Sun’s energy causes all these and is ultimately responsible for life and activity on Earth, which also subsumes weather phenomena.

  • Earth’s hydrological cycle is only partly responsible for the weather. For example, rainfall patterns, movements of ocean water etc.


Nitrogen is a major constituent of the atmosphere comprising about 79% of the atmospheric gases. Consider the following about it:

1. It is an essential constituent of organic compounds such as amino acids and protein.

2. The principal source of free nitrogen is the action of soil microorganisms and associated plant roots on atmospheric nitrogen.

Which of the above is/are correct?

  • The organic compounds are the amino acids, nucleic acids, proteins, vitamins and pigments.

  • Generally, nitrogen is usable only after it is fixed. 90% of fixed nitrogen is biological.

Only a few types of organisms like certain species of soil bacteria and blue-green algae are capable of utilising it directly in its gaseous form.


Consider the following statements:

Assertion (A): Higher concentration of dust particles is found in subtropical and temperate regions as compared to equatorial and polar regions.

Reason (R): Dry winds blow more in subtropical and temperate areas in comparison to equatorial and polar regions.

In the context of the statements above, which of these is true?

Solution: As the evaporation is high and moisture content is lesser in the subtropical and temperate areas compared to equatorial and polar regions, winds are dry; and dust particles are more. Where the moisture is high they fall back to the ground.


Consider the following statements:

1. Aerosols in the atmosphere increase the river flow.

2. Aerosols can also destroy stratospheric ozone.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

  • Scattering of sunlight by aerosols can reduce visibility (haze) and provide the red colour during sunrises and sunsets. The Earth’s atmosphere was drastically affected by the dispersal of volcanic aerosols.

  • Air pollution can lead to an increase in the water flowing through rivers. Pollutants known as aerosols reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth’s atmosphere.

  • This reduces evaporation, thus increasing river flow. During the 1980s, river flow in the central European river basin went up by 25% when aerosol levels in the region were at their peak. The study might help in dealing with water shortage, which is likely to be one of the biggest impacts of climate change.


Consider the following statements:

Assertion (A): The poisonous Ozone does not exist very near to the Earth’s surface.

Reason (R): It is unstable near the Earth’s surface.

In the context of the above statements, which of these is/are true?

  • Elemental oxygen is normally found in the form of a diatomic molecule. However, in the upper reaches of the atmosphere, a molecule containing three atoms of oxygen is found. This would mean a formula of and this is called ozone.

  • Unlike the normal diatomic molecule of oxygen, ozone is poisonous and we are lucky that it is not stable nearer to the Earth’s surface. But it performs an essential function where it is found.

  • It absorbs harmful radiations from the Sun. This prevents those harmful radiations from reaching the surface of the Earth where they may damage many forms of life.


Which among the following greenhouse gases has the longest lifecycle in the atmosphere?

  • Water vapour is a very effective absorber of heat energy in the air, but it does not accumulate in the atmosphere in the same way as the other greenhouse gases. This is down to it having a very short atmospheric lifetime, of the order of hours to days because it is rapidly removed as rain and snow.

  • Nitrous oxide is destroyed in the stratosphere and removed from the atmosphere more slowly than methane, persisting for around 114 years.

  • Methane is mostly removed from the atmosphere by chemical reaction, persisting for about 12 years. Thus, although methane is a potent greenhouse gas, its effect is relatively short-lived.

  • SF6 is included in the Kyoto Protocol because, molecule-for-molecule, it is a powerful greenhouse gas with a long (>1000 years) lifetime in the atmosphere. The signatory nations are thus committed to controlling the rate of its production.


Which one of the following is not related to the formation or modification of the present atmosphere?

  • The early atmosphere, with hydrogen and helium, is supposed to have been stripped off as a result of the solar winds.

  • The early atmosphere largely contained water vapour, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, methane, ammonia and very little free oxygen. The process through which the gases were outpoured from the interior is called degassing.

  • Finally, the composition of the atmosphere was modified by the living world through the process of photosynthesis.

  • It is through the process of differentiation that the Earth forming material got separated into different layers. Starting from the surface to the central parts, we have layers like the crust, mantle, outer core and inner core.


Consider the following statements:

1. Atmosphere has more freshwater than all surface rivers on the Earth.

2. River freshwater is in more quantity than the groundwater.

3. The combined quantity of freshwater in lakes, rivers and groundwater is more than that stored in polar ice caps.

4. The average salinity of the oceans is 40 parts per thousand.

Which of the following statements is/are correct?

Solution: Ocean average salinity is 35 parts per thousand.


Consider the following stages in the development of the atmosphere on Earth in the initial stages:

1. Loss of the primordial atmosphere.

2. Hot interior of the Earth contributed to the evolution of the atmosphere.

3. Process of photosynthesis contributed to changing the gases in the atmosphere.

Choose the correct order of evolution:

  • The evolution of the present atmosphere is a three-stage process. During the first stage, the primordial atmosphere disappeared. In the second stage, the evolution of the atmosphere is subsidised by the hot interior of the Earth. In the final stage, the process of photosynthesis in the living world modified the composition of the atmosphere.

  • The early atmosphere is believed to have disappeared due to the solar winds. The solar wind affects not only the Earth but also all the terrestrial planets, which were supposed to have lost their primordial atmosphere in the same way.


Consider the following statements

1. Warm air can hold more water vapour than cold air.

2. A weathercock is used for measuring wind direction.

3. The cirrus clouds are high clouds which indicate fair weather.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  • With the change of air temperature, the capacity to retain moisture increases or decreases. Warm air can hold more water vapour than cold air.

  • A wind vane also called a weather vane or weathercock, is a tool for measuring wind direction and was probably one of the first weather instruments ever used. To determine wind direction, a wind vane spins and points in the direction from which the wind is coming.

  • Cirrus clouds are formed at high altitudes (8,000 - 12,000m). They are thin and detached clouds having a feathery appearance. They are always white in colour. These clouds indicate fair Weather.


The thickness of the troposphere varies around the planet.

The troposphere is thickest at

Solution: The troposphere is thicker at the equator than at the poles because the equator is warmer. The convection currents of air expand the thickness of the troposphere (atmosphere) at poles. Thus, the simple reason is thermal expansion of the atmosphere at the equator and thermal contraction near the poles.


Consider the following statements on atmosphere:

1. Important feature of the stratosphere is that it contains a layer of ozone gas.

2. Meteorites burn up in the mesosphere on entering from space.

3. Almost all the weather phenomena like rainfall, fog and hailstorms occur in the troposphere.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

  • Troposphere: The most important layer of the atmosphere with an average height of 13 km. It contains the air that we breathe. Almost all the weather phenomena (rainfall, fog and hailstorm) happen in this layer.

  • Stratosphere: Lies above the troposphere, with height extending up to 50 km. This layer is also associated with weather phenomenon. This layer is free from clouds and most ideal for flying aeroplanes. The important feature of this layer is the presence of a layer of ozone gas. We have just learnt its protective action against the harmful effect of the Sun’s rays.

  • Mesosphere: Third layer that lies above the stratosphere, with a height that extends up to 80 km. Meteorites bum upon entering from the space.


Consider the following statements:

1. The elements of weather and climate are the same, i.e. temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind, humidity and precipitation.

2. Weather refers to the state of the atmosphere over an area at any point of time.

3. Climate refers to the total of weather conditions and variations over a large area for a long period of time (more than 30 years).

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  • Climate refers to the total of weather conditions and variations over a large area For a long period of lime (more than 30 years). Weather refers to the state of the atmosphere over an area at any point in time.

  • The elements of weather and climate are the same, i.e. temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind, humidity and precipitation.

  • You may have observed that the weather conditions fluctuate very often even within a day. But there is a common pattern over a few weeks or months, i.e. days are cool or hot, windy or calm, cloudy or bright, and wet or dry.

  • Based on the generalised monthly atmospheric conditions, the year is divided into seasons such as winter, summer or rainy seasons.


Regarding climate, consider the following statements:

1. The sea exerts a moderating influence on climate: As the distance from the sea increases, its moderating influence decreases and the people experience extreme weather conditions. This condition is known as continentality.

2. Ocean currents along with onshore winds affect the climate of the coastal areas.

3. The pressure and wind system of any area depend on the latitude and altitude of the place. Thus it influences the temperature and rainfall pattern.

Which of the statements given above is/are incorrect?

Solution: All statements are correct; hence answer is (d). There are six major controls of the climate of any place. They are latitude, altitude, pressure and wind system, distance from the sea (continentality), ocean currents and relief features.


The thermal equator is a belt encircling the Earth, defined by the set of locations having the highest mean annual temperature at each longitude around the globe. It is usually found slightly north of equator because

1. Solar insolation is comparatively much higher in the Northern Hemisphere than in the Southern Hemisphere.

2. The Northern Hemisphere is dominated by land unlike the Southern Hemisphere which is dominated by ocean waters.

Which of the above is/are correct?

  • The location of the thermal equator is not identical to that of the geographic equator. But, this is not due to the Level of insolation received in both hemispheres.

  • Land-dominated areas will tend to have a large variation in temperature and a higher average temperature under the same conditions (as compared to a water-dominated area).


Albedo is a critical factor in determining the warming of the atmosphere via indirect radiation. Which among the following materials is likely to have the lowest albedo?

  • Albedo is the fraction of solar energy (shortwave radiation) reflected from the Earth back into space.

  • It is a measure of the reflectivity of the Earth’s surface. Ice, especially with snow on top of it, has a high albedo: most sunlight hitting the surface bounces back towards space. Water is much more absorbent and less reflective.

  • So, if there is a lot of water, more solar radiation is absorbed by the ocean than when icc dominates. The soil has the least reflectivity among all options (a) to (d), and thus the most appropriate answer will be Moist Ploughed Soil.


Which among the following has the highest Albedo

Solution: The cryosphere is those portions of Earth’s surface where water is in solid form, including sea ice, lake ice, river ice. snow cover, glaciers, ice caps, ice sheets, and frozen ground. Snow has a high albedo.


When sunlight passes through the canopy of a dense forest, it looks scattered. Why is it so?

Solution: Tyndall effect can be observed when sunlight passes through the canopy of a dense forest. In the forest, mist contains tiny droplets of water, which act as particles of colloid dispersed in the air.


The amount of solar energy received at various parts of Earth varies according to latitude because of the

  • The Earth is pear-shaped: however, its shape has a bearing on the gravitation forces more, rather than changing the amount of solar energy received at various latitudes.

  • If the Earth was vertically flat and not lilted, all places would have received the same solar energy. The dominance of water bodies a (Teels how the solar energy received is distributed, it does not change the amount of energy received per se (barring glaciers that reflect sunlight).


Out of the total solar insolation that reaches the Earth’s surface, most is used by plants for

Solution: Only a very small fraction (0.1%) is fixed in photosynthesis. More than half is used for plant respiration and the remaining part is temporarily stored or is shifted to other portions of the plant. This energy captured from the Sun further reduces when we pass to higher trophic levels.

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