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The transfer of heat and water vapor from the ocean to the air above it depends on a disequilibrium at the interface of the water and the air. Within about a millimeter of the water, air temperature is close to that of the surface water, and the air is nearly saturated with water vapor. But the differences, however small, are crucial, and the disequilibrium is maintained by air near the surface mixing with air higher up, which is typically appreciably cooler and lower in water-vapor content. The air is mixed by means of turbulence that depends on the wind for its energy. As wind speed increases, so does turbulence, and thus the rate of heat and moisture transfer. Detailed understanding of this phenomenon awaits further study. An interacting—and complicating—phenomenon is wind-to-water transfer of momentum that occurs when waves are formed. When the wind makes waves, it transfers important amounts of energy—energy that is therefore not available to provide turbulence.

From the above passage I have to answer the following question:

According to the passage, wind over the ocean generally does which of the following?

I. Causes relatively cool, dry air to come into proximity with the ocean surface.
II. Maintains a steady rate of heat and moisture transfer between the ocean and the air.
III. Causes frequent changes in the temperature of the water at the ocean's surface.

  1. II only
  2. I only
  3. I and II only
  4. II and III only
  5. I, II, and III

The given solution is “2. I only”, but I do not understand why I is correct. Can you explain please?

Another question on the same passage:

It can be inferred from the passage that the author regards current knowledge about heat and moisture transfer from the ocean to air as

  1. revolutionary
  2. inconsequential
  3. incomplete
  4. outdated
  5. derivative

What could be the answer?

3
  • Not sure what you mean in the first part of your question (“incorporation” seems out of place here), but for the second part I'd say that the author regards current knowledge '3. incomplete' based mostly on the sentence “Detailed understanding of this phenomenon awaits further study.” Aug 22, 2013 at 21:51
  • Sorry I can feel that incorporate is not appropriate. The question was, For the first question they have chosen the option 2. I only. But there is no relevant I got in the context.
    – user2378
    Aug 22, 2013 at 21:59
  • 2
    Hi user2378, welcome to ELL! To help us answer your question, please tell us which answer you do think is correct (and why). If we understand the source of your confusion, we can give you a better answer :)
    – WendiKidd
    Aug 22, 2013 at 22:53

1 Answer 1

3

Sentences in the middle of the passage support (I): “...disequilibrium is maintained by air near the surface mixing with air higher up, which is typically appreciably cooler and lower in water-vapor content. The air is mixed by means of turbulence that depends on the wind...”

The passage doesn't address either of the issues (II) and (III). It rules them neither out nor in.

Thus, according to the passage, wind over the ocean generally does (I), which is answer 2.

The sentence “Detailed understanding of this phenomenon awaits further study” points to 3, incomplete, as the answer to the other question.

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  • 2
    II is addressed by “As wind speed increases, so does turbulence, and thus the rate of heat and moisture transfer.” To interpret II as false requires a literal reading: if the wind varies then so does the rate, therefore steady is false. I find this a bad comprehension test because if you take some distance, the wind does keep the heat and moisture transfer up, which could be said as maintaining a sustained rate if not a steady rate of transfer. Aug 23, 2013 at 7:34
  • @Gilles It really does seem unnecessarily convoluted. It seems like the test should be constructed to reward vocabulary and ability to connect various points. It shouldn't be possible to construct reasonable arguments for alternate answers, but, as you point out, it is. Aug 23, 2013 at 19:50

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