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Guided Notes on the
Causes of Weather
Chapter 12, Section 1
Meteorology is the study of
atmospheric phenomena.
2. Hydrometeors are cloud droplets
and forms of precipitation that
contain water in any phase.
Lithometeors are smoke, haze,
dust, and condensation nuclei.
Thunder and lightning are
electrometeors, which are
manifestations of atmospheric
Weather is the current state of
the atmosphere. Usually this
refers to short-term variations.
Long-term variations in weather
for a particular area is the
climate. It is usually averaged
over a 30-year period.
4. The Sun’s rays are more spread
out when they strike the Earth
at a low angle. Thus, solar
radiation at the poles is less
intense. This explains why the
tropics are warmer than the
5. The continual motion of air and
water reallocates heat energy
and brings it into balance.
Virtually everything that we
consider to be weather is part
of the constant redistribution of
Earth’s heat energy.
6. An air mass is a large body of
air that takes on the
characteristics of the area over
which it forms. The region over
which an air mass forms is the
source region, and it can be
either land or water.
List and briefly describe the 5 major
types of air masses:
Continental Tropical: (cT) warm and
 Maritime Tropical: (mT) warm and
 Continental Polar: (cP) cold and dry
 Maritime Polar: (mP) cold and humid
 Arctic: (A) much colder than
continental polar
8. Air masses eventually move
from their source region and
transfer heat from one region to
another, establishing a heat
balance in the process.
9. An air mass undergoes air mass
modification when acquires some of
the characteristics of the new
surface beneath it. Eventually, an
air mass’s characteristics are the
same as the new surface over
which it is travelling. At this point,
the air mass has lost its original
identity and is now part of the air
over a new source region.