To what extent is the climate of the British Isles a product of the air masses that affect it (40 marks)

2210 WordsNov 17, 20149 Pages
To what extent is the climate of the British Isles a product of the air masses that affect it? (40 marks) The British Isles are a group of islands located off the north-western coast of continental Europe. The climate is usually considered to be temperate maritime; however, the weather is very changeable from place to place and from time to time. Air masses greatly affect the weather experienced in the British Isles and therefore, its climate. An air mass is a body of air with uniform levels of temperature, humidity and pressure acquired from prolonged contact in its source region. Despite having an effect on British climate, there are other factors which play major roles and need to be considered. Much of the weather that the British…show more content…
The effects of these continental air masses are less prevalent than maritime influences; however they still have important influences on weather in the British Isles, and are also fundamental in explaining temporal and spatial differences in climate across the country. It is not only the weather that the air masses bring that affects the climate of the UK, but also, the complex interactions between the air masses. Most importantly, the interactions between the Polar Maritime and Tropical maritime air masses can lead to the formation of areas of significantly low pressure called depressions. These depressions usually form in the Atlantic Ocean at the boundary between PM and TM air, and bring characteristic cloudy, wet and windy conditions. These depressions are what are responsible for many of the winter storms. They are regular occurrences and so contribute to the overall pattern of weather over a long period i.e. the climate of the British Isles. The interaction between continental air masses often leads to anticyclones which are the opposite of depressions – areas of significantly high pressure. They bring settled weather, with clear skies and light winds. In the summer they can be responsible for temperatures of over 30⁰C. Many say it is the pattern of depressions and anticyclones passing over Britain that is responsible for its

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