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Some meteorologists have insisted that the severity of the drought in

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Some meteorologists have insisted that the severity of the drought in  [#permalink]

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New Project RC Butler 2019 - Practice 2 RC Passages Everyday
Passage # 247, Date : 04-Aug-2019
This post is a part of New Project RC Butler 2019. Click here for Details


Some meteorologists have insisted that the
severity of the drought in sub-Saharan West Africa
and its long duration (nearly 40 years to date) must
be a sign of a long-term alteration in climate.
(5) Among the theories proposed to explain this
change, one hypothesis that has gained widespread
attention attributes the drought to a cooling of the
Northern Hemisphere. This hypothesis is based on
the fact that, between 1945 and the early 1970s, the
(10) average annual air temperatures over the
landmasses of the Northern Hemisphere decreased
by about half a degree Fahrenheit (approximately
one quarter of a degree Celsius—a small but
significant amount). Several meteorologists have
(15) suggested that this cooling was caused by an
increase in atmospheric dust emanating from
volcanic eruptions and from urban and industrial
pollution; the dust reflected incoming sunlight,
causing the ground to receive less solar radiation
(20) and to transfer less heat to the atmosphere. The
cooling seemed to be more pronounced in the
middle and high latitudes than in the tropics, an
observation that is consistent with the fact that the
Sun’s rays enter the atmosphere at a greater angle
(25) farther north, and so have to pass through more
dust-laden atmosphere on the way to the Earth.

Since winds are set in motion by differences in
air pressure caused by unequal heating of the
atmosphere, supporters of the cooling hypothesis
(30) have argued that a growing temperature differential
between the unusually cool middle and high
latitudes and the warm tropical latitudes is causing
a southward expansion of the circumpolar
vortex—the high-altitude westerly winds that circle
(35) the Northern Hemisphere at middle latitudes.
According to this hypothesis, as the circumpolar
vortex expands, it forces south other components of
large-scale atmospheric circulation and, in effect,
displaces the northward-moving monsoon that
(40) ordinarily brings sub-Saharan rain. Proponents have
further argued that this change in atmospheric
circulation might be long-term since cooling in the
Northern Hemisphere could be perpetuated by
increases in ice and snow coverage there, which
(45) would lead to reflection of more sunlight away from
the Earth, to further cooling, and, indirectly, to
further drought in sub-Saharan West Africa.

Despite these dire predictions, and even though
the current African drought has lasted longer than
(50) any other in this century, the notion that the
drought is caused by cooling of the Northern
Hemisphere is, in fact, not well supported. Contrary
to the predictions of the cooling hypothesis, during
one period of rapid Northern Hemisphere cooling
(55) in the early 1950s, the sub-Sahara was unusually
rainy. Moreover, in the early 1980s, when the
drought was particularly severe, Northern
Hemisphere lands actually warmed slightly. And
further doubt has been cast on the hypothesis by
(60) recent analyses suggesting that, when surface
temperatures of water as well as land are taken into
account, the Northern Hemisphere may not have
cooled at all.


1. Which one of the following best expresses the main idea of the passage?

(A) There is strong evidence to support the theory that an increase in atmospheric dust has contributed to the severity of the drought in sub-Saharan West Africa.
(B) The suggestion that Northern Hemisphere cooling is contributing to a decline of rainfall in sub-Saharan West Africa is open to question.
(C) The expansion of the circumpolar vortex has caused a dramatic shift in the atmospheric circulation patterns above sub-Saharan West Africa.
(D) The drought in sub-Saharan West Africa represents a long-term, permanent alteration in global climate patterns.
(E) Meteorologists cannot determine when the drought in sub-Saharan West Africa is likely to end.



2. The author’s attitude toward the cooling hypothesis is best described as one of

(A) vehement opposition
(B) cautious skepticism
(C) growing ambivalence
(D) guarded enthusiasm
(E) strong support



3. According to the passage, proponents of the cooling hypothesis suggested that the circumpolar vortex is likely to expand when which one of the following occurs?

(A) The average annual atmospheric temperature of the tropics is significantly higher than normal for an extended period of time.
(B) The average annual snowfall in the Northern Hemisphere is lower than normal for an extended period of time.
(C) The average annual surface temperature of Northern Hemisphere waters is higher than the average annual surface temperature of Northern Hemisphere landmasses.
(D) There is a significant increase in the difference between the average annual atmospheric temperature of the tropics and that of the more northern latitudes.
(E) There is a significant increase in the difference between the average annual atmospheric temperatures of the middle and the high latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere.



4. Which one of the following can be inferred from the passage about the average annual temperature of the air over Northern Hemisphere landmasses before 1945?

(A) It was higher than it was between 1945 and the early 1970s.
(B) It was lower than it was during the early 1980s.
(C) It was the same as it was between 1945 and the early 1970s.
(D) It was the same as the annual average surface temperature of Northern Hemisphere landmasses and bodies of water between 1945 and the early 1970s.
(E) It was higher than the annual average surface temperature of Northern Hemisphere landmasses and bodies of water between 1945 and the early 1970s.



5. Which one of the following best describes the organization of the passage?

(A) Opposing points of view are presented, evidence supporting each point of view is discussed, and then one point of view is developed into a formal hypothesis.
(B) A theory is discussed, and different points of view about the theory are discussed, supported, and then reconciled.
(C) A hypothesis is proposed, contradictory evidence is discussed, and then the hypothesis is amended.
(D) A theory explaining a phenomenon is proposed, supporting evidence is considered, and then the theory is disputed.
(E) A point of view is presented, a theory supporting the view is proposed, contradictory evidence is presented, and then a different theory is proposed.



6. A proponent of the cooling hypothesis would most likely argue that the return of the monsoon rains to sub-Saharan West Africa would indicate that which one of the following has also occurred?

(A) The amount of ice and snow coverage over the landmasses of the Northern Hemisphere has increased.
(B) The average annual temperature of the atmosphere over the middle and high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere has decreased.
(C) The average annual temperature of the atmosphere over the tropics in the Northern Hemisphere has increased.
(D) Other components of large-scale atmospheric circulation, besides the circumpolar vortex, have expanded and moved southward.
(E) The atmospheric circulation pattern of the high-altitude westerly winds has resumed its normal pattern.



  • Source: LSAT Official PrepTest 17 (December 1995)
  • Difficulty Level: 650

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Re: Some meteorologists have insisted that the severity of the drought in  [#permalink]

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New post 05 Aug 2019, 00:53
+1 Kudos to posts containing answer explanation of all questions
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Re: Some meteorologists have insisted that the severity of the drought in  [#permalink]

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New post 06 Aug 2019, 07:50
All correct in 9 mins 30 seconds, including a little more than 4 mins to read
Para 1- severity of the drought in sub-Sahara- sign of long-term alteration in climate, cooling hypothesis
Para 2- cooling hypothesis, growing temperature differential -> southward expansion of the circumpolar vortex --> displaces northward-moving monsoon
Para 3- contra findings to cooling hypothesis


1. Which one of the following best expresses the main idea of the passage?
(B) The suggestion that Northern Hemisphere cooling is contributing to a decline of rainfall in sub-Saharan West Africa is open to question.- Correct

2. The author’s attitude toward the cooling hypothesis is best described as one of
(A) vehement opposition- incorrect, the author does not oppose the hypothesis
(B) cautious skepticism
(C) growing ambivalence
(D) guarded enthusiasm- incorrect
(E) strong support- incorrect, the author also provides contra findings that suggest the hypothesis might not be true
Although I chose the correct answer, I was in a fix between options B and C.
I understand that the author is skeptical of the cooling hypothesis and presents findings that make us question the hypothesis.
Can't we also consider the author's attitude as ambivalent?

AjiteshArun , GMATNinja , MagooshExpert , GMATGuruNY , VeritasPrepBrian , MartyTargetTestPrep , DmitryFarber , VeritasKarishma , generis , jennpt , VeritasPrepErika , other experts - please enlighten


3. According to the passage, proponents of the cooling hypothesis suggested that the circumpolar vortex is likely to expand when which one of the following occurs?
(D) There is a significant increase in the difference between the average annual atmospheric temperature of the tropics and that of the more northern latitudes.
supporters of the cooling hypothesis have argued that a growing temperature differential between the unusually cool middle and high latitudes and the warm tropical latitudes is causing
a southward expansion of the circumpolar vortex

4. Which one of the following can be inferred from the passage about the average annual temperature of the air over Northern Hemisphere landmasses before 1945?
(A) It was higher than it was between 1945 and the early 1970s.
between 1945 and the early 1970s, the average annual air temperatures over the landmasses of the Northern Hemisphere decreased by about half a degree Fahrenheit

5. Which one of the following best describes the organization of the passage?
(A) Opposing points of view are presented, evidence supporting each point of view is discussed, and then one point of view is developed into a formal hypothesis.- incorrect, no point of view is developed into a formal hypothesis
(B) A theory is discussed, and different points of view about the theory are discussed, supported, and then reconciled.- incorrect, there is no reconciliation between different views
(C) A hypothesis is proposed, contradictory evidence is discussed, and then the hypothesis is amended.- incorrect, there is no amendment to the hypothesis
(D) A theory explaining a phenomenon is proposed, supporting evidence is considered, and then the theory is disputed.- correct
(E) A point of view is presented, a theory supporting the view is proposed, contradictory evidence is presented, and then a different theory is proposed.- incorrect, no different theory is proposed


6. A proponent of the cooling hypothesis would most likely argue that the return of the monsoon rains to sub-Saharan West Africa would indicate that which one of the following has also occurred?

(A) The amount of ice and snow coverage over the landmasses of the Northern Hemisphere has increased.- incorrect, Opposite this will intensify the drought in sub-Sahara
(B) The average annual temperature of the atmosphere over the middle and high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere has decreased.- incorrect, Opposite this will intensify the drought in sub-Sahara
(C) The average annual temperature of the atmosphere over the tropics in the Northern Hemisphere has increased.- incorrect, Opposite this will intensify the drought in sub-Sahara
(D) Other components of large-scale atmospheric circulation, besides the circumpolar vortex, have expanded and moved southward.- irrelevant, at worst it is in the opposite direction
(E) The atmospheric circulation pattern of the high-altitude westerly winds has resumed its normal pattern.- Correct
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Re: Some meteorologists have insisted that the severity of the drought in  [#permalink]

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New post 06 Aug 2019, 21:33
1
Skywalker18 wrote:
All correct in 9 mins 30 seconds, including a little more than 4 mins to read
Para 1- severity of the drought in sub-Sahara- sign of long-term alteration in climate, cooling hypothesis
Para 2- cooling hypothesis, growing temperature differential -> southward expansion of the circumpolar vortex --> displaces northward-moving monsoon
Para 3- contra findings to cooling hypothesis


1. Which one of the following best expresses the main idea of the passage?
(B) The suggestion that Northern Hemisphere cooling is contributing to a decline of rainfall in sub-Saharan West Africa is open to question.- Correct

2. The author’s attitude toward the cooling hypothesis is best described as one of
(A) vehement opposition- incorrect, the author does not oppose the hypothesis
(B) cautious skepticism
(C) growing ambivalence
(D) guarded enthusiasm- incorrect
(E) strong support- incorrect, the author also provides contra findings that suggest the hypothesis might not be true
Although I chose the correct answer, I was in a fix between options B and C.
I understand that the author is skeptical of the cooling hypothesis and presents findings that make us question the hypothesis.
Can't we also consider the author's attitude as ambivalent?

AjiteshArun , GMATNinja , MagooshExpert , GMATGuruNY , VeritasPrepBrian , MartyTargetTestPrep , DmitryFarber , VeritasKarishma , generis , jennpt , VeritasPrepErika , other experts - please enlighten



Ambivalence is mixed feelings. The author does not have mixed feelings about the cooling hypothesis. He starts with
"Some meteorologists have insisted that ... Among the theories proposed to explain this change, one hypothesis that has gained widespread attention is cooling hypothesis..." Then he goes on to explain the cooling hypothesis in detail.
He starts the last paragraph with "the notion that the drought is caused by cooling of the Northern Hemisphere is, in fact, not well supported." and goes on to list the reasons why the theory is not well supported.

In this passage, the author aims to introduce the cooling hypothesis, explain it and say that it is not well supported. His opinion of the hypothesis is of skepticism only. He does not say anywhere that it could be valid.

'Growing ambivalence' would be 'I used to totally believe in it before, but now I am not so sure' or 'I did not believe in it before but now I am not so sure'.
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Re: Some meteorologists have insisted that the severity of the drought in  [#permalink]

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New post 07 Aug 2019, 01:37
VeritasKarishma,
Can you kindly explain Q6. I thought the answer is C. As, the temperature at the Northern Hemisphere increases, the coolingness will come down and the difference between the temperature at the Northern Hemisphere and the sub-Saharan will come down.
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Re: Some meteorologists have insisted that the severity of the drought in  [#permalink]

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New post 07 Aug 2019, 04:10
sunny91 wrote:
VeritasKarishma,
Can you kindly explain Q6. I thought the answer is C. As, the temperature at the Northern Hemisphere increases, the coolingness will come down and the difference between the temperature at the Northern Hemisphere and the sub-Saharan will come down.


Hi sunny91,

6. A proponent of the cooling hypothesis would most likely argue that the return of the monsoon rains to sub-Saharan West Africa would indicate that which one of the following has also occurred?
(C) The average annual temperature of the atmosphere over the tropics in the Northern Hemisphere has increased.- incorrect

between 1945 and the early 1970s, the average annual air temperatures over the landmasses of the Northern Hemisphere decreased by about half a degree Fahrenheit

So as per option C, if the average annual temperature of the atmosphere over the tropics in the Northern Hemisphere has increased, then the temperature differential between the unusually cool middle and high latitudes and the warm tropical latitudes will INCREASE further (causing a southward expansion of the circumpolar vortex, which will displace northward-moving monsoon)

The increasing temperature differential between middle and high latitudes and tropical latitudes will INCREASE further, intensifying the effects. ( The severity of drought will increase)

Hope this helps! :)
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Re: Some meteorologists have insisted that the severity of the drought in   [#permalink] 07 Aug 2019, 04:10
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