Study Guide for Exam #1: Southwest Background

NOTE: In 2022, exams will be take-home, open-book, and open-notes. For each content lecture (not the very first lecture of the semester), summarize what you feel are main points and why they are important for study of environmental history of the American Southwest. Include three or four representative images in your answer and refer to them specifically in your writing; screen captures would be fine. Each answer should be no more than one page, including the images.

There were seven lectures in Part 1, so plan on seven 1-page answers. Additionally, write one more page describing the famous "Bridging the Gap" event, including images (hint: screen capture from the Emil Haury videos, and remeber the journalism credo of the 5 Ws and 1 H).

SW Geology
  1. Geologic time scale.
  2. Describe the basic concept of Plate Tectonics (include plate boundary types).
  3. Describe the rock cycle and the 3 types of rocks found in the rock cycle.
  4. List the 3 geologic provinces located in the Southwest; distinguish them by our relevant geographic characteristics.
  5. When was the maximum extent of the last great ice age?
  6. How does geology underpin everything else environmentally?
SW Climate, Part 1
  1. What happens to the sun's radiation as it passes through Earth's atmosphere?
  2. Describe the relationship between amount of solar insolation that hits the Earth and the angle of the sun's rays.
  3. Why are there seasons on Earth?
  4. How is excess energy at the equator transferred to the poles?
  5. Hot air rises, cold air sinks.
  6. Explain the basic effect in the Northern Hemisphere of Coriolis force.
SW Climate, Part 2
  1. Describe the four types of air masses.
  2. Explain the basic concepts of El Niño and La Niña and how these phenomena affect climate of the Southwest.
  3. How does a summer monsoon storm develop?
  4. What environmental variable might help predict the summer monsoon rainfall total?
  5. Describe the summer and winter precipitation patterns for Tucson.
Dating Techniques
  1. What does the term "half-life" mean for radioactive isotopes?
  2. Provide a couple examples of radioactive isotopes.
  3. Describe what kinds of things can be dated using radiocarbon.
  4. Is radiocarbon dating perfectly accurate? If not, how is it off?
  5. How are tree rings used as a dating technique?
  6. Describe the "Bridging the Gap" event; bring details.
Paleoecology and Paleoclimate
  1. Describe packrat midden analysis.
  2. What is amberat?
  3. What type of environmental information can be obtained from packrat middens?
  4. Interpret (broadly) a packrat macrofossil assemblage.
  5. Define Uniformitarianism.
  6. Give an example application of Uniformitarianism.
  7. How does tree growth reflect climate?
  8. Describe the importance of "modern homework" in paleoenvironmental research, and give an example.
  9. Discuss concepts that unify packrat midden analysis and dendrochronology in the study of past climate.
SW Deserts
  1. How is desert defined in terms of precipitation and evaporation?
  2. How is atmospheric circulation related to the location of major deserts on the Earth?
  3. What is the rain shadow effect and how does it relate to deserts?
  4. How do cold water ocean currents affect deserts?
  5. List the 4 deserts located of North America. Know a major indicator plant of each one.
  6. Describe a notable plant of the Sonoran Desert and how humans have used it.
  7. Describe major tree species of the Sonoran Desert and why they are important.
  8. Name desert ecosystem benefits to the Southwest.
  9. What is the exotic plant that is currently "invading" the Sonoran Desert?
SW Mountains
  1. How do the size of an island and the distance of that island from the mainland affect the number of species that island has?
  2. How many species source areas do the Sky Islands of the American Southwest have?
  3. Within the troposphere, what is the relationship between altitude and temperature?
  4. Describe dry lapse rate.
  5. How does temperature affect the amount of moisture an air parcel can hold as vapor?
  6. What is the relationship between precipitation and elevation?
  7. Name some features that make the SW Sky Island Archipelago unique on the planet.
  8. In the context of mountain vegetation zones, what is the relationship between aspect (north- or south-facing) and solar insolation?
  9. List Southwestern mountain vegetation zones (stacked ecosystems) in relative order by elevation.
  10. What tree species provides the most volume of wood in Arizona and New Mexico?
  11. Name mountain ecosystem benefits to the Southwest?