Economic Problem Set

Question 1:

The elevation of Davis is 15 meters above mean sea level (msl).  Donner Summit at the Sierran crest is 2200 meters above msl.  Blue Canyon, on Interstate 80, is 1430 meters above msl.  Assume that precipitation increases linearly as elevation increases.

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  1. (10 points) If Davis receives 40 cm of precipitation annually and Donner Summit receives 160 cm of precipitation, predict the annual precipitation at Blue Canyon. Show your work.








  1. Are there limitations to the assumption that precipitation increases with elevation? Explain.




  1. The mean annual air temperature in Davis is 17 degrees C. Predict the mean annual air temperature at Blue Canyon and at Donner Summit.  Explain your reasoning.
















Question 2: (12 points)

Consider the following two redox reactions in the nitrogen cycle:

  1. NH4+ + O2 = NO3 + H2O (Nitrification) 6 points
  2. NO3 + CH2O = N2O + CO2 (Denitrification)  6 points

Both are currently unbalanced.  Using the “half reactions method”, balance both of the equations, and be sure to show all of your work.
























Question 3 (10 points)

Background:  Energy balance and water balance on landscapes and in soils play an important role in determining the types of vegetation that occur, the amount of energy and water available for soil formation, and the amount of water available for aquifer recharge and stream runoff.  Energy dissipation by evapotranspiration (evaporation from soil plus transpiration by plants) affects the amount of water that can be stored in soils.  A water balances is dependent not only on the magnitude of precipitation (P) and evapotranspiration (ETp) but on the timing, or seasonality of precipitation and solar radiation.  The water balance used here is sometimes called a “bucket model”.  The soil is the bucket that can hold a maximum amount of water (water holding capacity, WHC).  The bucket can be filled when P exceeds ETp, or emptied when ETp exceeds P.  Storage can never be less than zero because the bucket is empty.  Also, once the bucket is full, an excess of P over ETp produces a surplus (the bucket begins to empty out the BOTTOM, run off is not considered in this type of bucket model), that can contribute to leaching of soils, recharge of groundwater aquifers, and streamflow. Note that ETp refers to potential evapotranspiration, not actual evapotranspiration.  Refer to chapter 9 in the text for more discussion of water balance.



Question 3, Part 1:  Calculate the water balances below for Site 3 (4 points, all or nothing).

Site 3 Water Holding Capacity 15
  J F M A M J J A S O N D Total
ETp 13 13 13 12 12 11 10 11 12 13 13 13  
P 15 15 17 22 12 1 1 1 4 15 22 17  


Question 3, Part Two (4 points total):

  1. Graph the water balance for Site 3 (plot evapotranspiration and precipitation vs. months of the year). Attach graph. (3 points, all or nothing)
  2. Based on the water holding capacity (WHC in cm) of the soil in Site 3, show areas of Recharge (R), Utilization (U), Deficit (D), and Surplus (S), on the graph. Note that surplus and deficit do not accumulate from one month, but storge does, until the soil water holding capacity is exceeded. (3 points, all or nothing)






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