If the source region is the water, the dew point will be higher and the water mass is considered maritime. If the source region is over land, the air will be relatively dry, so the air mass is considered continental.
There are four temperature characteristics defining the airmass source region, from the coldest to warmest
- Arctic or antarctic
Therefore the airmass that develops over the northern Canada is called a continental polar airmass and it is cold and dry. One that form over the indian ocean is called a maritime tropical airmass and is warm and humid.
Airmass are classified in the weather maps using two or three latters
- A lower case latter describe the amount of the moisture in the airmass. An a for maritime (moist) c for continental (dry)
- An upper case latter describes the heat of the airmass. E for equatorial, T for tropical, M for mansoon, P for polar, A for arctic or antarctic and S for superior – which means a unique situation with dry air formed by a powerful downward motion of atmosphere
- A lower case latter describes the relationship between the airmass and the earth; k signifies that the air mass is colder than the ground below it while w describes an airmass that is more warm than the ground below it.
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