The air with distinctive characteristics in terms of temperature and humidity is called an air mass. It is defined as a large body of air having little horizontal variation in temperature and moisture.
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Air masses are horizontal large bodies of air which have uniform temperatures and moisture contents.
Conditions for the formation of Air masses:
- When the air remains over a homogenous area for a sufficiently longer time, it acquires the characteristics of the area.
- The homogenous regions can be the vast ocean surface or vast plains.
- The air with distinctive characteristics in terms of temperature and humidity is called an air mass.
- It is defined as a large body of air having little horizontal variation in temperature and moisture.
- The homogenous surfaces, over which air masses form, are called the source regions.
- The air masses are classified according to the source regions.
There are five major source regions. These are:
- Warm tropical and subtropical oceans;
- The subtropical hot deserts;
- The relatively cold high latitude oceans;
- The very cold snow covered continents in high latitudes;
- Permanently ice covered continents in the Arctic and Antarctica.
Following types of air masses are recognised:
- Maritime tropical (mT);
- Continental tropical (cT);
- Maritime polar (mP);
- Continental polar (cP);
- Continental arctic (cA).