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Video:What Are the Different Types of Air Masses?

with Rachelle Oblack

The types of air masses formed on Earth are determined by their source region. See more information about the different types of air masses in this informative video.See Transcript

Transcript:What Are the Different Types of Air Masses?

An air mass is a huge body of air with similar temperature and moisture properties. The types of air masses formed on Earth are determined by their source region.

Types of Air

There are four types of air – Continental Air, which is air over a large land mass; Maritime air – which usually originates over a large water body and is moist; Tropical Air, which is formed in region which are usually warm; and Polar Air – very cold air, usually in the areas of the polar ice caps.
  • continental air - c
  • maritime air - m
  • Tropical air - T
  • Polar air - P

Air Mass Characteristics

There are two main characteristics that define air masses - temperature and moisture content. The temperature and moisture content of air masses are abbreviated as two letters.

The first is a lower case letter for overall moisture in the air, and the second is a capital letter for the temperature or thermal properties of the air. There are 4 possible choices for the types of air masses.
  • maritime tropical - (mT)
  • continental tropical - (cT)
  • maritime polar - (mP)
  • continental polar - (cP)

Other Temperature Symbols for an Air Mass

Arctic air is often symbolized with an A. This type of air mass is characterized by extremely cold temperatures. Equatorial air is symbolized with an E. The air is hot because it originates in the equatorial regions.

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