CAT 2017 – Slot 2 – Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension – During the frigid season...it's often necessary to nestle under a blanket to try to stay warm

During the frigid season...it's often necessary to nestle under a blanket to try to stay warm. The temperature difference between the blanket and the air outside is so palpable that we often have trouble leaving our warm refuge. Many plants and animals similarly hunker down, relying on snow cover for safety from winter's harsh conditions. The small area between the snowpack and the ground, called the subnivium...might be the most important ecosystem that you have never heard of. The subnivium is so well-insulated and stable that its temperature holds steady at around 32 degree Fahrenheit (0 degree Celsius). Although that might still sound cold, a constant temperature of 32 degree Fahrenheit can often be 30 to 40 degrees warmer than the air temperature during the peak of winter. Because of this large temperature difference, a wide variety of species...depend on the subnivium for winter protection. For many organisms living in temperate and Arctic regions, the difference between being under the snow or outside it is a matter of life and death. Consequently, disruptions to the subnivium brought about by climate change will affect everything from population dynamics to nutrient cycling through the ecosystem. The formation and stability of the subnivium requires more than a few flurries. Winter ecologists have suggested that eight inches of snow is necessary to develop a stable layer of insulation. Depth is not the only factor, however. More accurately, the stability of the subnivium depends on the interaction between snow depth and snow density. Imagine being under a stack of blankets that are all flattened and pressed together. When compressed, the blankets essentially form one compacted layer. In contrast, when they are lightly placed on top of one another, their insulative capacity increases because the air pockets between them trap heat. Greater depths of low-density snow are therefore better at insulating the ground. Both depth and density of snow are sensitive to temperature. Scientists are now beginning to explore how climate change will affect the subnivium, as well as the species that depend on it. At first glance, warmer winters seem beneficial for species that have difficulty surviving subzero temperatures; however, as with most ecological phenomena, the consequences are not so straightforward. Research has shown that the snow season (the period when snow is more likely than rain) has become shorter since 1970. When rain falls on snow, it increases the density of the snow and reduces its insulative capacity. Therefore, even though winters are expected to become warmer overall from future climate change, the subnivium will tend to become colder and more variable with less protection from the above-ground temperatures. The effects of a colder subnivium are complex...For example, shrubs such as crowberry and alpine a2alea that grow along the forest floor tend to block the wind and so retain higher depths of snow around them. This captured snow helps to keep soils insulated and in turn increases plant decomposition and nutrient release. In field experiments, researchers removed a portion of the snow cover to investigate the importance of the subnivium's insulation. They found that soil frost in the snow-free area resulted in damage to plant roots and sometimes even the death of the plant.

Q. 1: The purpose of this passage is to
A) introduce readers to a relatively unknown ecosystem: the subnivium
B) explain how the subnivium works to provide shelter and food to several species.
C) outline the effects of climate change on the subnivium.
D) draw an analogy between the effect of blankets on humans and of snow cover on species living in the subnivium.

Correct Answer:- C

Explanation:- (4) refers to an analogy, which by itself cannot be the purpose of the passage. (2) does not mention how the subnivium is compromised by climate change. (1) also occupies a safe orbit. Paragraph 5 comes to the point – refer to “Scientists are now beginning to explore how climate change will affect the subnivium”. Hence, (3) is the answer.

 
Q. 2: All of the following statements are true EXCEPT
A) Snow depth and snow density both influence the stability of the subnivium.
B) Climate change has some positive effects on the subnivium.
C) The subnivium maintains a steady temperature that can be 30 to 40 degrees warmer than the winter air temperature.
D) Researchers have established the adverse effects of dwindling snow cover on the subnivium.

Correct Answer:- B

Explanation:-  (1) finds mention in paragraph 5 – “Both depth and density of snow are sensitive to temperature”. (3) is mentioned  in paragraph 2 – “a constant temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit can often be 30 to 40 degrees warmer than the air   temperature”. (4) finds mention in the last paragraph – “In field experiments, researchers removed a portion of the snow cover to investigate the importance of the subnivium’s insulation. They found that soil frost in the snow-free area resulted in damage to  plant roots”. But positive effects of climate change, if any, cannot be discerned in the passage.

 

Q. 3: Based on this extract, the author would support which one of the following actions?
A) The use of snow machines in .winter to ensure snow cover of at least eight inches.
B) Government action to curb climate change.
C) Adding nutrients to the soil in  winter.
D) Planting more shrubs in areas of short snow season.

Correct Answer:- B

Explanation:- If climate change is the critical factor, then regulations have to curb global warming. (1), (3) and (4) are stop-gap measures at best, and completely uncertain at worst. Hence, (2) is the apt answer.

 

Q. 4: In paragraph 6, the author provides the examples of crowberry and alpine azalea to demonstrate that
A) Despite frigid temperatures, several species survive in temperate and Arctic regions.
B) Due to frigid temperatures in the temperate and Arctic regions., plant species that survive tend to be shrubs rather than trees.
C) The crowberry and alpine azalea are abundant in temperate and Arctic regions.
D) The stability of the subnivium depends on several interrelated factors, including shrubs on the forest floor.

Correct Answer:- D

Explanation:- Examples of crowberry and alpine azalea demonstrate that shrubs help maintain higher depths of snow, which in turn keeps soils insulated and increases plant decomposition and nutrient release. Conversely, lower depths of snow results in soil frost which damages plants. (1) does not address this aspect at all. (2) also misses the point. Nor does (3) address the impact   shrubs have on the subnivium. (4) mentions how shrubs can protect the subnivium, among other factors

 

Q. 5: Which one of the following statements can be inferred from the passage?
A) In an ecosystem, altering any one element has a ripple effect on all others.
B) Climate change affects temperate and Artie regions more than equatorial or arid ones.
C) A compact layer of wool is warmer than a similarly compact layer of goose down.
D) The loss of the subnivium, while tragic, will affect only temperate and Artie regions.

Correct Answer:- A

Explanation:-    Since equatorial and arid regions are not discussed in the passage, no conclusions as in (2) can be drawn.   Likewise, we have no information to conclude whether the loss of the subnivium would affect only temperate and Arctic regions, so

(4) is suspect. Which kind of blanket will provide maximum protection from the cold would trivialize the passage, hence (3) is ruled out. (1), however, can be inferred from the third paragraph of the passage. Refer to “disruptions to the subnivium brought about by climate change will affect everything from population dynamics to nutrient cycling through the ecosystem”.

 

Q. 6: In paragraph 1, the author uses blankets as a device to
A) evoke the bitter cold of winter in the minds  of readers.
B) explain how blankets work to keep us warm.
C) draw an analogy between blankets and the snowpack.
D) alert readers to the fatal effects of excessive exposure to the cold.

Correct Answer:- C

Explanation:- The example of blankets is used to demonstrate the benefits of greater depths of low-density snow to insulate the ground. Hence, (1), (2) and (4) which explain the mechanics of winter bedtime are rejected. The answer is thus (3).

 
Checkout Other Questions of CAT 2017 Slot 2 Paper:

Verbal Ability :              |   Q.01- Q.06  |  Q.07- Q.12  |  Q.13- Q.18  |  Q.19- Q.21  |  Q.22- Q.24  |  Q.25- Q.29  |  Q.30 – Q.34  |

Logical Reasoning :    |   Q.01- Q.04 Q.05- Q.08  |  Q.09- Q.12  |  Q.13- Q.16  |  Q.17- Q.20 Q.21- Q.24  |  Q.25 – Q.28  |   Q.29 – Q.32  |

Quantitative Aptitude: |   Q.01- Q.05  |   Q.06- Q.10Q.11- Q.15  |  Q.16- Q.20  |  Q.21- Q.25  |   Q.26- Q.30  |  Q.31 – Q.34  |

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