Sunday, 18 March 2012

Why are us British so interested in the weather???

Just a quick post before I am off to Iceland for a week!!!

Last week we learnt all about what produces the British weather and arguably one of the reasons we seem to take such an interest in it is that it is best described as changeable, as dictated by 5 different air masses influential to UK weather. Despite the variability, we rarely witness extremes, which is perhaps a fortunate thing considering how badly we seem to deal with them!

Cool Temperate Western Maritime is how we describe the climate of the UK and other countries that have an ocean to the west and are 40-60 degrees north and south of the Equator, and so really the name is quite self-explanatory! Western Canada, parts of Chile and New Zealand also experience this climate but the spatial extent is restricted by relief as mountain ranges (i.e Andes in Chile and Rockies in Canada) force the moist air to rise, clouds and precipitation form but this generates a rainshadow on the eastern side, hence the further influence of this climate inland in Europe (possible link to tectonics!).

Maritime climates are important a places with such climate have warmer conditions in winter than you would expect from their latitude. This is because water has a greater specific heat capacity than land and takes longer to warm ip and cool down, so in winter water keeps the area warmer. However, summers are often a little cooler than expected because the cloud cover reduces the amount of sunlight that reaches the ground. Therefore, it can be argued that maritimes climate was crucial to British development considering we followed the path outlined by the Rostow Model of Development....

This Met Office page is quite good, although designed for teachers, for explaining some of the basics (with even a quick mention of one of my favourites, El Nino!)

Air masses are named according to their source, either Tropical, Arctic or Polar, and whether they came from land (continental) or sea (maritime). The UK is affected by Tm, Tc, Pm, Pc and A. When Pm and Tm meet along the polar front, depressions form qith warm and cold fronts that produce heavy frontal and orographic rain.

When I get back from Iceland I will write a post specifically on depressions as their is quite a lot to cover, as well as Monsoons and perhaps a bit of information to help with that lovely assignment Millie has set us (if I have the energy and am feeling nice!). But for now, I am sorry but this is going to as I should probably hunt around for my passport before sitting down to watch Orbit (catch it on iplayer if you have missed any ).
If I get the chance, I will blog from Iceland but, if not, I am sure you will hear about it when I return.

Fellow Icelandic Adventurers, see you bright and early tomorrow morning and I promise, I will try and refrain from asking too many questions throughout the week!!!

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