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Weather Notes - this covers ideas 1.2 & 1.

3 in the syllabus

Key words are in bold. Try and use these terms as much as possible.

Convectional Rainfall:

1. The sun heats up the ground
2. Water evaporates into the sky
3. Condensation occurs and clouds form
4. It rains and often results in thunderstorms. This process repeats everyday in
tropical climates e.g. Amazon Rainforest

Frontal Rainfall

When two different air masses meet, a cold and a warm front.
Condensation will occur which will cause clouds to form and
ultimately rain.
Rain falls over a wide area
this is the most common type of rainfall in the UK.

Relief Rainfall

Clouds are heavy when full of rain. When they hit mountains
they are unable to rise above them.
Warm air is forced to cool when it rises over a mountain then
Precipitation occurs in order for the clouds to rise, and pass
over the mountains.
You will often find one rainy windward slope and one dry
leeward slope where it does not rain.
This area where it does not rain is called the rain shadow

Pressure systems

Tropical storms form as a result of low pressure systems (see
Katrina case study for notes on the formation of hurricanes)
Droughts occur as a result of high pressure systems.

Zones of high pressure are known as anti-cyclones. - weaker winds
turning clockwise
Zones of low pressure are known as depressions/cyclones, and
feature strong winds turning anti-clockwise


These storms affect the UK throughout the year and which give
the UK its wet and windy weather
Warm air (Tropical maritime) migrating north from the
tropics meets cold dense air (Polar Maritime) migrating South
from the Polar region.
The warm air is undercut by the advancing cold air and
because it has more energy and is less dense is forced to
rise upwards at a COLD FRONT
Ahead of this, warm air advances into cold air and is also
forced to rise above this denser cold air at a WARM
At both fronts air is rising so cooling and condensation take
place which eventually results in rain AT BOTH FRONTS.
The rising air creates low pressure at the earths surface at
the centre of the storm. Air rushes in from higher pressure
areas around the depression giving the high winds we often
associate with depressions.


anticyclones only involve one type of air mass which usually
cover large areas and do not have any fronts, unlike
They are high pressure systems in which the air moves
downwards towards the earth's surface. As the air descends,
the molecules become compressed, the pressure increases and
it warms.
When air is warming, no clouds can form as it can hold more
water. The sky is clear.
Anticyclones can be very large, typically at least 3,000 km wide.
Once they become established, they can give several days of
settled weather.
Winds are very gentle or even calm in an anticyclone, move
In Britain in summer an anticyclone will mean heat waves
during the day. At night, however, as there are no clouds, heat
will be quickly lost. This can occur anywhere in the world
The ground will cool sufficiently to cause condensation of
water vapour in the descending warm air and mist or heavy
dew may form. This will clear quickly in the morning sun.
After a few days, a layer of hot air builds up at ground level,
which eventually will give rise to thunderstorms, ending the
In winter, clear skies may bring cold nights and frost.
In cold conditions, anticyclones may also bring fog and mist. This is
because the cold forces moisture in the air to condense at low
Under very calm conditions, both frost and fog may persist for
several days. An anticyclone's very stable conditions and little
air movement means that pollution is trapped at low levels,
resulting in very poor air quality such as smogs.


Droughts occur when a long period of abnormally dry weather
leads to a severe water shortage.
Droughts are also often caused by the activity of humans as
well. Human activities that can help trigger droughts include:
widespread cutting down of trees for fuel, Construction of a
dam on a large river, severely reducing the flow of water.
Droughts endanger lives and livelihoods through thirst, hunger
(due to crops dying from lack of water) and the spread of
One of the worst hit areas was the Sahel region of Africa, which
covers parts of Eritrea, Ethiopia and the Sudan.
Droughts and famines can have other geographical impacts. If
drought forces people to migrate to a new home it could put
pressure on resources in neighbouring countries.
The extreme heat of August 2003 caused suffering and
discomfort for millions of people across Europe. The heat
caused heatstroke and dehydration especially among elderly
people. it is estimated that 30,000 people died in the extreme
heat/ France was the worst hit.
in August 2003 500 people per day were admitted to hospital
and the hospitals struggled to cope. In addition, the heatwave
also used several forest fires in southern Europe. All in all, the
extreme heat is estimated to have caused 1 billion of damage.