Licchavi Lyceum


Licchavi Lyceum



What is a landform?

  • landform is a small to medium sized part of the surface of the earth.

What is a landscape?

  • Several related landforms together make up landscapes.

Plate Tectonics Theory

  • A Plate plate is a massive, irregularly-shaped slab of solid rock. 
  • Generally it is composed of both continental and oceanic lithosphere. 
  • The thickness of plate is about 100 Km.

Statement of the Theory

  • The earth’s lithosphere is divided into seven major and some minor plates.
  • Young Fold Mountain ridges, trenches, and/or faults surround these major plates.
  • These plates have been constantly moving over the globe throughout the history of the earth.

Classification of Plates

Three types of plate boundaries are proposed – convergent, divergent and transforming.

Classification of Plates

Three types of plate boundaries are proposed – convergent, divergent and transforming.

Convergent/ Destructive Plates

  • One plate overrides the other plate, one plate slides down in the other plate and the process is known as subduction.
  • This pate boundary causes earth quake, Volcano and folded mountain range like Himalaya.

Divergent/ Constructive Plates

  • Plates separate and the molten Magma comes on the surface. 
  • Active volcano is present in the divergent zone.
  • The earth quake has shallow focus. 
  • There is a continuous formation of oceanic crust. 

Transform Fault

  • There is neither creation nor destruction along the transform fault.

Movement of the Indian Plate

  • The Indian plate includes Peninsular India and the Australian continental portions.
  • The subduction zone along the Himalayas forms the northern plate boundary
  • It is an example of Continent- Continent convergence. 

History of Movement of Indian Plate

  • India was a large island situated off the Australian coast, in a vast ocean. 
  • The Tethys Sea separated it from the Asian continent till about 225 million years ago. 
  • India is supposed to have started her northward journey about 200 million years ago at the time when Pangaea broke. 
  • India collided with Asia about 40-50 million years ago causing rapid uplift of the Himalayas. 

Formation of Deccan Trap

  • The Deccan Traps from India, presently covering most of the Maharashtra plateau. 
  • This is formed by volcanic activities (linear fissure eruption). 
  • This incident started 66.25 million years ago (End of the Cretaceous period) when India was near present placed Madagascar and during its movement towards north, it passed over Reunion Hotspot. 
  • Presently this hotspot is dormant in nature.

Force of Plate Movement

  • The mobile rock beneath the rigid plates is believed to be moving in a circular manner.
  • The heated material rises to the surface, spreads and begins to cool, and then sinks back into deeper depths. 
  • This cycle is repeated over and over to generate what scientists call a convection cell. 
  • Heat within the earth comes from two main sources: radioactive decay and residual heat.

Air masses and fronto

What is Air Mass?

When the air remains over a homogenous area for a sufficiently longer time, it acquires the characteristics of the area. 

  • The air with distinctive characteristics in terms of temperature and humidity is called an air mass.
  • Air masses form an integral part of the global planetary wind system. Therefore, they are associated with one or other wind belt.

Conditions for the formation of Air masses

  • Source region should be extensive with gentle, divergent air circulation (slightly at high pressure).
  • Areas with high pressure but little pressure difference or pressure gradient are ideal source regions.
  • Areas with high pressure but little pressure difference or pressure gradient are ideal source regions.
  • There are no major source regions in the mid-latitudes as these regions are dominated by cyclonic and other disturbances.

Air masses based on Source Regions
1. Warm tropical and subtropical oceans;
2. The subtropical hot deserts;
3. The relatively cold high latitude oceans;
4. The very cold snow covered continents in high latitudes;
5. Permanently ice covered continents in the Arctic and Antarctica.

According to the source of origin, following types of air masses are recognised:
1. Maritime tropical (mT);
2. Continental tropical (cT);
3. Maritime polar (mP);
4. Continental polar (cP);
5. Continental arctic (cA)

Cold Air Mass (K): A cold air mass is one which is colder than the underlying surface and is associated with instability and atmospheric turbulence.
Influence of Air Masses on World Weather
• The properties of an air mass which influence the accompanying weather are vertical distribution temperature (indicating its stability and coldness or warmness) and the moisture content.
• The air masses carry atmospheric moisture from oceans to continents and cause precipitation over landmasses.
• They transport latent heat, thus removing the latitudinal heat balance.
• Most of the migratory atmospheric disturbances such as cyclones and storms originate at the contact zone between different air masses and the weather associated with these disturbances is determined by characteristics of the air masses involved.
Classification of Air Masses:
• Broadly, the air masses are classified into polar and tropical air masses.
• Both the polar and the continental air masses can be either of maritime or continental types.
Continental Polar Air Masses (cP)
• Source regions of these air masses are the Arctic basin, northern North America, Eurasia and Antarctica.
• These air masses are characterized by dry, cold and stable conditions.
• The weather during winter is frigid, clear and stable.
• During summer, the weather is less stable with lesser prevalence of anticyclonic winds, warmer landmasses and lesser snow.
Maritime Polar Air Masses (mP)
• The source region of these air masses is the oceans between 40° and 60° latitudes.
• These are actually those continental polar air masses which have moved over the warmer oceans, got heated up and have collected moisture.
• The conditions over the source regions are cool, moist and unstable. These are the regions which cannot lie stagnant for long.
• The weather during winters is characterized by high humidity, overcast skies and occasional fog and precipitation.
• During summer, the weather is clear, fair and stable.
Continental Tropical Air Masses (cT)
• The source-regions of the air masses include tropical and sub-tropical deserts of Sahara in Africa, and of West Asia and Australia.
• These air masses are dry, hot and stable and do not extend beyond the source.
• They are dry throughout the year.
Maritime Tropical Air Masses (mT)
• The source regions of these air masses include the oceans in tropics and sub-tropics such as Mexican Gulf, the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans.
• These air masses are warm, humid and unstable.
• The weather during winter has mild temperatures, overcast skies with fog.
• During summer, the weather is characterized by high temperatures, high humidity, cumulous clouds and convectional rainfall.
Note: When the air acquires moisture, it becomes unstable.
• Fronts are the typical features of mid-latitudes weather (temperate region – 30° – 65° N and S). They are uncommon (unusual) in tropical and polar regions.
• Front is a three dimensional boundary zone formed between two converging air masses with different physical properties (temperature, humidity, density etc.).
• The two air masses don’t merge readily due to the effect of the converging atmospheric circulation, relatively low diffusion coefficient and a low thermal conductivity.
Front Formation: The process of formation of a front is known as Frontogenesis (war between two air masses), and dissipation of a front is known as Frontolysis (one of the air masses win against the other).
• Frontogenesis involves convergence of two distinct air masses. Frontolysis involves overriding of one of the air mass by another.
Fig: Formation of Frontolysis

• In northern hemisphere Frontogenesis (convergence of air masses) happens in anti-clockwise direction and in southern hemisphere, clockwise direction. This is due to Coriolis Effect.
• Mid-latitude cyclones or temperate cyclones or extra-tropical cyclones occur due to frontogenesis.
General Characteristics of Fronts: The temperature contrast influences the thickness of frontal zone in an inversely proportional manner, i.e., two air masses with higher temperature difference does not merge readily. So the front formed is less thick. With a sudden change in temperature through a front, there is a change in pressure also. Front experiences wind shift, since the wind motion is a function of pressure gradient and Coriolis force.
Wind Shift: A change in wind direction of 45 degrees or more in less than 15 minutes with sustained wind speeds of 10 knots or more throughout the wind shift.
1 knot = 1.852 kmph
1 Nautical Mile = 1.852 km
The frontal activity is invariably associated with cloudiness and precipitation because of ascent of warm air which cools down adiabatically, condenses and causes rainfall.
The intensity of precipitation depends on the slope of ascent and amount of water vapour present in ascending air.
Classification of Fronts: Based on the mechanism of frontogenesis and the associated weather, the fronts can be studied under the following types.

Fig: Type of Fronts

Stationary Front
• When the surface position of a front does not change (when two air masses are unable to push against each other; a draw), a stationary front is formed.
• The wind motion on both sides of the front is parallel to the front.
• Warm or cold front stops moving, so the name stationary front.
• Once this boundary resumes its forward motion, becomes a warm front or cold front.
Weather along a stationary front
• Cumulonimbus clouds are formed. Overrunning of warm air along such a front causes frontal precipitation.
• Cyclones migrating along a stationary front can dump heavy amounts of precipitation, resulting in significant flooding along the front.
Fig: Stationary Front

Cold Front: When the cold air moves towards the warm air mass, its contact zone is called the Cold front and vice versa.
• Such a front is formed when a cold air mass replaces a warm air mass by advancing into it or that the warm air mass retreats and cold air mass advances (cold air mass is the clear winner).
• In such a situation, the transition zone between the two is a cold front.
• Cold front moves up to twice as quickly as warm fronts.
• Frontolysis begins when the warm air mass is completely uplifted by the cold air mass.
Fig: Cold Front

Weather along a cold front
• The weather along such a front depends on a narrow band of cloudiness and precipitation.
• Severe storms can occur. During the summer months thunderstorms are common in warm sector.
• In some regions like USA tornadoes occur in warm sector.
• Produce sharper changes in weather. Temperatures can drop more than 15 degrees within the first hour.

Cloud formation along a cold front
• The approach of a cold front is marked by increased wind activity in warm sector and the appearance of cirrus clouds.
• At actual front, dark nimbus and cumulonimbus clouds cause heavy showers. A cold front passes off rapidly, but the weather along it is violent.
Fig: Cloud in Cold Front

Warm Front
• It is a sloping frontal surface along which active movement of warm air over cold air takes place (warm air mass is too weak to beat the cold air mass).
• Frontolysis (front dissipation) begins when the warm air mass makes way for cold air mass on the ground, i.e. when the warm air mass completely sits over the cold air mass.
• Temperature Inversion is recorded.
Fig: Warm Front

Weather along a warm front
• As the warm air moves up the slope, it condenses and causes precipitation but, unlike a cold front, the temperature and wind direction changes are gradual.
• Such fronts cause moderate to gentle precipitation over a large area, over several hours.
• The passage of warm front is marked by rise in temperature, pressure and change in weather.
Fig: Cloud in Warm Front

Clouds along a warm front
• With the approach, the hierarchy of clouds is—-cirrus, stratus and nimbus. [No cumulonimbus clouds as the gradient is gentle].
• Cirrostratus clouds ahead of the warm front create a halo around sun and moon.
Occluded Front
It occurs when cold air mass completely lifts the warm air mass from ground. It can be both warm Occluded Front and Cold Occluded front.
• Occlusion: Meteorology a process by which the cold front of a rotating low-pressure system catches up the warm front, so that the warm air between them is forced upwards.
• Such a front is formed when a cold air mass overtakes a warm air mass and goes underneath it.
• Frontolysis begins when warm sector diminishes and the cold air mass completely undertakes the warm sector on ground.
• Thus, a long and backward swinging occluded front is formed which could be a warm front type or cold front type occlusion.

Fig: Formation of Occluded Front

Weather along an occluded front
• Weather along an occluded front is complex—a mixture of cold front type and warm front type weather. Such fronts are common in west Europe.
• The formation Mid-latitude cyclones [temperate cyclones or extra-tropical cyclones] involve the formation of occluded front.
Fig: Weather along Occluded front

Clouds along an occluded front
• A combination of clouds formed at cold front and warm front.
• Warm front clouds and cold front clouds are on opposite side of the occlusion.
Fig: Cloud along Occluded Front