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ATMO 170A Class Notes Week 5

by: Savannah Way

ATMO 170A Class Notes Week 5 ATMO 170 A1

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Savannah Way

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Class notes cover air masses, fronts, and mid-latitude cyclonic storms.
Intro to Weather and Climate
Dr. Mullen
Class Notes
weather, climate
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Savannah Way on Thursday October 6, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ATMO 170 A1 at University of Arizona taught by Dr. Mullen in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 2 views.


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Date Created: 10/06/16
WEEK 5 (222-254) CH 08: 1, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19 AIR MASSES Air mass: extremely large body of air whose properties of temperature and humidity are fairly similar in any horizontal direction at any given altitude Source regions: regions where air masses originate Continental polar/continental artic (cP): bitterly cold weather that invades southern Canada and the United States in the winter  These air masses originate over the ice and snow covered regions of the Arctic  Air in contact with the surface becomes quite cold and stable Lake-effect snows: when the cold, dry air masses move over a relatively warm body of water, such as the Great Lakes, heavy snow showers Maritime polar air mass (mP): During the winter, polar and arctic air originating over Asia and frozen polar regions is carried eastward and southward over the Pacific Ocean by the circulation around the Aleutian low. The ocean water modifies these cold air masses by adding warmth and moisture to them. Since this air travels over water many hundreds or even thousands of kilometers pacific air: East of the Rockies, often brings fair weather and temperatures that are cool but not nearly as cold as the continental polar and arctic air maritime tropical air mass (mT): wintertime source region for the Pacific, air from this region must travel over many kilometers of water before it reaches California continental tropical air mass (cT): North America, during the summer, the air mass is hot, dry, and conditionally unstable at low levels, with frequent dust devils forming during the day BRIEF REVIEW  An air mass is a large body of air whose properties of temperature and humidity are fairly similar in any horizontal direction.  Source regions for air masses tend to be generally flat, of uniform composition, and in an area of light winds dominated by surface high pressure.  Continental air masses form over land. Maritime air masses form over water. Polar air masses originate in cold, polar regions, and extremely cold arctic air masses form over arctic regions. Tropical air masses originate in warm, tropical regions.  Continental polar (cP) air masses are cold and dry; continental arctic (cA) air masses are extremely cold and dry. It is the continental arctic air masses that produce the extreme cold of winter as they move across North America.  Continental tropical (cT) air masses are hot and dry, and are responsible for the heat waves of summer in the western half of the United States.  Maritime polar (mP) air masses are cold and moist, and are responsible for the cold, damp, and often wet weather along the northeast coast of North America, as well as for the cold, rainy winter weather along the west coast of North America.  Maritime tropical (mT) air masses are warm and humid, and are responsible for the hot, muggy weather that frequently plagues the eastern half of the United States in summer. FRONTS Front: the transition zone between two air masses of different densities  Stationary front: no movement, points between A and B mark the boundary where cold, dense continental polar air from Canada butts against the north-south trending Rocky Mountains  Cold front: between points B and C on the surface weather map represents where cold, dry, stable polar air is replacing warm, moist, conditionally unstable subtropical air o “back door” cold fronts move southwestward out of Canada into the northeastern United States  Warm front: the leading edge of advancing warm, moist subtropical air from the Gulf of Mexico replaces the retreating cold maritime polar air from the North Atlantic o Overrunning: rising of warm air over cold produces clouds and precipitation well in advance of the front’s surface boundary  Occluded front: if a cold front catches up and overtakes a warm front, a frontal boundary is created between the two air masses  Criteria to locate a front on a surface weather map o Sharp temperature changes over a relatively short distance o Changes in the air’s moisture content o Shifts in wind direction o Pressure and pressure changes o Clouds and precipitation patterns MID-LATITUDE CYCLONIC STORMS Polar front theory: model explaining the life cycle of an extratropical, or middle-latitude cyclonic storm  Development of weather along the polar front, convenient way to describe the structure and weather associated with a migratory middle-latitude cyclonic storm system  Wave cyclone: moves and forms along the polar front in a wavelike manner  Fontal wave: wavelike front forming on the from  Open wave: region of lowest pressure is at the junction of the two fronts and as the cold air displaces the warm air upward along the cold front, a narrow band of precipitation forms steered by the wind Cyclogenesis: any development or strengthening of a mid-latitude cyclone Lee-side lows: troughs and developing cyclonic storms that form as westerly winds blow over a mountain range, the air expands vertically on the downwind (lee) side, which can help intensify any pre-existing area of low pressure Nor’easters: east coast mid-latitude cyclonic storms that develop or intensify off the eastern seaboard of North America during the fall, winter, and spring  cyclones moving northeastern along the Atlantic coast, bringing high winds and heavy snow or rain to coastal areas convergence: piling up of air, can cause air density to increase directly above the surface low divergence: spreading out of air, at the surface it will remove air from the column directly above the high cold advection: where the wind crosses the isotherms in such a way that colder air is preplacing warmer air, the transport of colder air into a region warm advection: where the wind crosses the isotherms in such a way that warmer air is replacing colder air, the transport of warmer air into a region


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