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Antarctic Weather Stations

Overview:

To conduct your investigation, work as scientists do—predict what you may discover, make observations, and record what you see. Look for patterns. Afterwards, offer hypotheses to explain those patterns. Don't worry if your hypotheses are sketchy right now; any testable hypothesis is a valid starting point. When scientists test their hypothesis and discover that their observations and data do not match their hypothesis, they redefine their investigation by improving the test and gathering more data, or refining the original hypothesis based on the new data before testing again. In your investigation, you can return to the computer program if you need to observe more details. Then revise your hypothesis or develop a new one based on each new round of observations.

Exploration:

Go to Antaractic Weather Stations.

Select ten weather stations, including some inland stations and some coastal stations. You may notice that the units of measurement for wind speed differ from station to station. They may be expressed as miles per hour, knots (nautical miles per hour), or kilometers per hour. This is a problem if you want to compare data from different stations, so you will need to convert to one unit for all readings. Use the conversion table below to convert your data.

  • Create a chart in your journal to record wind data at the ten weather stations for five consecutive days. If data are not available for consecutive days, use five days that are close to each other. Calculate average wind speed for each station, and note any general patterns for wind direction.
  • After you have collected and averaged your data, transcribe the averages onto your Antarctic map in the appropriate locations. Indicate the wind speed with a number and the wind direction with an arrow. Your arrow should point in the direction the wind is blowing.
  • Look for patterns in wind speed and direction among your ten different weather stations. Then examine an elevation map of Antarctica and analyze how your data fit in with elevation data. Record your ideas on your wind worksheet or in your journal

1 knot = 1.15 "standard" (statute) miles per hour = 1.85 kilometers per hour
1 knot = 0.5144 meters per second = 1.85 kilometers per hour
1 kilometer per hour = 0.6214 miles per hour = 0.4470 meters per second

Wrap-up

After recording your data on your Antarctic map answer the questions below.

  1. What trends do you notice in wind speed? Where are the speeds the greatest?
  2. What trends do you notice in wind direction? Where do directional differences occur: in the interior, the coastal regions, or around mountains?
  3. What is the terrain like near the windy spots on Antarctica? What are the topographic features like in areas where you notice patterns of wind direction?
  4. Offer your hypotheses for why these patterns of wind speed and direction occur.

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