air masses

Science Dictionary
air mass  
A widespread body of air that originates over a large area of land or ocean and assumes the temperature and humidity of that area, with characteristics distributed fairly evenly throughout the horizontal layers of the mass. Air that stands over the Caribbean Sea, for example, becomes a warm, humid maritime tropical air mass, while air that lies in the Arctic regions of northern Canada takes on the cold and dry characteristics of its surroundings and becomes a continental polar air mass. When air masses of differing properties come into contact in the middle latitudes, they frequently generate storm fronts.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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