- The pattern of wind circulation is modified in different seasons due to the shifting of regions of maximum heating, pressure and wind belts.
- The most pronounced effect of such a shift is noticed in the monsoons, especially over southeast Asia. The other local deviations from the general circulation system are as follows.
- Differences in the heating and cooling of earth surfaces and the cycles those develop daily or annually can create several common, local or regional winds.
Land and Sea Breezes
As explained earlier, the land and sea absorb and transfer heat differently. During the day the land heats up faster and becomes warmer than the sea. Therefore, over the land the air rises giving rise to a low pressure area, whereas the sea is relatively cool and the pressure over sea is relatively high. Thus, pressure gradient from sea to land is created and the wind blows from the sea to the land as the sea breeze.
In the night the reversal of condition takes place. The land loses heat faster and is cooler than the sea. The pressure gradient is from the land to the sea and hence land breeze results
Mountain and Valley Winds
- In mountainous regions, during the day the slopes get heated up and air moves upslope and to fill the resulting gap the air from the valley blows up the valley. This wind is known as the valley breeze.
- During the night the slopes get cooled and the dense air descends into the valley as the mountain wind.
- The cool air, of the high plateaus and ice fields draining into the valley is called katabatic wind.
- Another type of warm wind occurs on the leeward side of the mountain ranges. The moisture in these winds, while crossing the mountain ranges condense and precipitate. When it descends down the leeward side of the slope the dry air gets warmed up by adiabatic process. This dry air may melt the snow in a short time.
- 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 airmass.
- 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: (i) Warm tropical and subtropical oceans; (ii) The subtropical hot deserts; (iii) The relatively cold high latitude oceans; (iv) The very cold snow covered continents in high latitudes; (v) Permanently ice covered continents in the Arctic and Antarctica.
- following types of air- masses are recognised: (i) Maritime tropical (mT); (ii) Continental tropical (cT); (iii) Maritime polar (mP); (iv) Continental polar (cP); (v) Continental arctic (cA).
- Tropical air masses are warm and polar air masses are cold.
- When two different air masses meet, the boundary zone between them is called a front. The process of formation of the fronts is known as frontogenesis.
- There are four types of fronts: (a) Cold; (b) Warm; (C)Stationary; (d) Occluded.
- When the front remains stationary, it is called a stationary front.
- When the cold air moves towards the warm air mass, its contact zone is called the cold front,
- whereas if the warm air mass moves towards the cold air mass, the contact zone is a warm front.
- If an air mass fully lifted above the land surface, it is called the occluded front.
- The fronts occur in middle latitudes and are characterised by steep gradient in temperature and pressure. They bring abrupt changes in temperature and cause the air to rise to form clouds and cause precipitation.
Extra Tropical Cyclones
- The systems developing in the mid and high latitude, beyond the tropics are called the middle latitude or extra tropical cyclones.
- Extra tropical cyclones form along the polar front. Initially, the front is stationary.
- In the northern hemisphere, warm air blows from the south and cold air from the north of the front. When the pressure drops along the front, the warm air moves northwards and the cold air move towards, south setting in motion an anticlockwise cyclonic circulation.
- The cyclonic circulation leads to a well-developed extra tropical cyclone, with a warm front and a cold front.
- There are pockets of warm air or warm sector wedged between the forward and the rear cold air or cold sector.
- The warm air glides over the cold air and a sequence of clouds appear over the sky ahead of the warm front and cause precipitation.
- The cold front approaches the warm air from behind and pushes the warm air up. As a result, cumulus clouds develop along the cold front. The cold front moves faster than the warm front ultimately overtaking the warm front. The warm air is completely lifted up and the front is occluded and the cyclone dissipates.
- which is not present in the tropical cyclones. They cover a larger area and can originate over the land and sea. Whereas the tropical cyclones originate only over the seas and on reaching the land they dissipate. The extra tropical cyclone affects a much larger area as compared to the tropical cyclone. The wind velocity in a tropical cyclone is much higher and it is more destructive. The extra tropical cyclones move from west to east but tropical cyclones, move from east to west.
- are violent storms that originate over oceans in tropical areas and move over to the coastal areas bringing about large scale destruction caused by violent winds, very heavy rainfall and storm surges.
- one of the most devastating natural calamities. They are known as Cyclones in the Indian Ocean, Hurricanes in the Atlantic, Typhoons in the Western Pacific and South China Sea, and Willy-willies in the Western Australia.
- Tropical cyclones originate and intensify over warm tropical oceans. The conditions favourable for the formation and intensification of tropical storms are: (i) Large sea surface with temperature higher than 27° C; (ii) Presence of the Coriolis force; (iii) Small variations in the vertical wind speed; (iv) A pre-existing weak- low-pressure area or low-level-cyclonic circulation; (v) Upper divergence above the sea level system.
- The energy that intensifies the storm, comes from the condensation process in the towering cumulonimbus clouds, surrounding the centre of the storm. With continuous supply of moisture from the sea, the storm is further strengthened. On reaching the land the moisture supply is cut off and the storm dissipates. The place where a tropical cyclone crosses the coast is called the landfall of the cyclone. The cyclones, which cross 20o N latitude generally, recurve and they are more destructive.
- They cover a larger area and can originate over the land and sea. Whereas the tropical cyclones originate only over the seas and on reaching the land they dissipate. The extra tropical cyclone affects a much larger area as compared to the tropical cyclone. The wind velocity in a tropical cyclone is much higher and it is more destructive. The extra tropical cyclones move from west to east but tropical cyclones, move from east to west.
- The energy that intensifies the storm, comes from the condensation process in the towering cumulonimbus clouds, surrounding the centre of the storm. With continuous supply of moisture from the sea, the storm is further strengthened. On reaching the land the moisture supply is cut off and the storm dissipates.
- The place where a tropical cyclone crosses the coast is called the landfall of the cyclone.
- The cyclones, which cross 20o N latitude generally, recurve and they are more destructive.
- A mature tropical cyclone is characterised by the strong spirally circulating wind around the centre, called the eye. The diameter of the circulating system can vary between 150 and 250 km.
- The eye is a region of calm with subsiding air. Around the eye is the eye wall, where there is a strong spiralling ascent of air to greater height reaching the tropopause.
- The wind reaches maximum velocity in this region, reaching as high as 250 km per hour. Torrential rain occurs here. From the eye wall rain bands may radiate and trains of cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds may drift into the outer region.
Thunderstorms and Tornadoes
- Thunderstorms are caused by intense convection on moist hot days. A thunderstorm is a well-grown cumulonimbus cloud producing thunder and lightening. When the clouds extend to heights where sub-zero temperature prevails, hails are formed and they come down as hailstorm. If there is insufficient moisture, a thunderstorm can generate dust - storms.
- A thunderstorm is characterised by intense updraft of rising warm air, which causes the clouds to grow bigger and rise to greater height. This causes precipitation. Later, downdraft brings down to earth the cool air and the rain.
- From severe thunderstorms sometimes spiralling wind descends like a trunk of an elephant with great force, with very low pressure at the centre, causing massive destruction on its way. Such a phenomenon is called a tornado. Tornadoes generally occur in middle latitudes. The tornado over the sea is called water sprouts.