Factors that influence weather

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Have you ever thought how clouds appear in the sky? Or what are jet streams? How weather fronts are made? In general, there are several factors that we do not see but that still influence weather.

The water cycle

Evaporation is the process when water in lakes, rivers, seas, oceans and plants rises in the air in form of vapor. It happens due to the sun which warms the surface of our planet. Water vapor provides the moisture that form clouds which then turns into rain or snow and returns to the Earth. And the cycle starts over and over again.

Air masses

When the air hovers over the surface area with uniform humidity and temperature it takes on the characteristics of the area below. For example, an air mass over the tropical Atlantic Ocean would become warm and humid; an air mass over the winter snow and ice of northern Canada would become cold and dry. These massive volumes of air often cover thousands of miles and reach to the stratosphere. Overtime, mid-latitude cyclonic storms and global wind patterns move them to locations far from their source regions.

But when two air masses meet the cold air pushes the hot air upwards. When rising the temperature becomes lower and it is impossible to hold as much water as when it is warm, so the molecules become thicker and form clouds.

Jet stream

The area of air above where two air masses of different temperature meet is called jet stream. The speed of the jet stream depends on the difference of the temperature and pressure of the air masses. The greater it is the faster the wind blows in the jet stream. Usually it exceeds 100 mph. In winter jet streams form more commonly as the difference between the temperature of the cold continental air masses and warm oceanic air masses. A jet stream is usually found around five to ten miles above Earth’s surface and flows west to east with cold, Equatorward dips and warm, Poleward bulges.

Weather fronts

Weather front is the transition zone between two air masses of different humidity and temperature. Cold air displaces warm air along a cold front while warm air displaces the cold air along a warm front. When neither air masses displaces the other, a stationary front occurs. Thick clouds and strong storms are typical for a cold front while rain, snow, sleet, or drizzle may accompany warm fronts.

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