Air Conditions of Different Types of Breezes

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  • 0:01 What Is a Breeze?
  • 0:58 Sea and Land Breeze
  • 3:56 Valley and Mountain Breeze
  • 5:32 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Julie Zundel

Julie has taught high school Zoology, Biology, Physical Science and Chem Tech. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Education.

Breezes are light winds, but did you know there are different types of breezes? This lesson will examine sea, land, valley and mountain breezes, explaining how they form and where you can find them.

What is a Breeze?

Think about all of the ways you use the word breeze: 'I am going to breeze through my test tomorrow,' or 'Let's have coffee and shoot the breeze' and even 'Baking that cake was a breeze.' Yeah, breeze has a lot of meanings, but the most important meaning (at least for this lesson) is what it means with regard to air.

A breeze, as you probably already know, is a light wind. But did you know there are actually different types of breezes? Let's explore each type and go on a breeze tour; so, pack your bags and get ready! Don't worry, you won't be gone long and the trip should be a breeze!

One more thing before we depart though. Breezes are named based on where they originate, and breezes blow from high to low pressures. We'll talk more about these two things as the lesson proceeds, but keep them in mind.

Sea & Land Breezes

Let's start our breeze tour along the Cuban coast, which, like a lot of coastal regions, gives us a fantastic example of a sea breeze, which is a breeze that comes from the ocean onto the land.

You are most likely to witness a sea breeze during the spring or summer because, during this time, the land and ocean have a bigger temperature difference than other parts of the year. And why does this temperature difference matter? I'm so glad you asked! In order to answer your question, I'll need to explain how a sea breeze forms.

It's a hot, sunny day, and the sun is warming up the land and the ocean. However, the land is heating up faster than the water, so there is a temperature difference. This difference results in a temperature difference for the air as well: the air above the ocean is cooler than the air above the land.

Before we go on, there's something you should know about air temperature and pressure. In warmer air, the molecules are further apart so the air is less dense. Because there are fewer molecules within a certain volume (compared to cold air), the warm air exerts less pressure, so warm air creates an area of low pressure, whereas cold, dense air creates an area of high pressure. And air flows from areas of high pressure to low pressure, which results in a breeze. Remember from the start of the lesson, this high to low pressure thing will keep popping up, so it's worth taking a moment to memorize!

Okay, so the breeze will blow from the cold, dense high-pressure area above the ocean to the warm, low-pressure region on land, and there you have it: a sea breeze! The breeze will be stronger if the temperature difference between the air and water is greater.

But wait; there's more! At night the reverse happens, and this is referred to as a land breeze, or when there is a breeze from the land to the ocean. At night, the land cools faster than the ocean, so cold, dense air forms over the land, which causes high pressure. Meanwhile, the air above the ocean is warmer and less dense so a low-pressure system develops, and if you remember from before: air moves from high to low pressure, so the air will move from the land to the ocean. Now remember I also told you at the start of the lesson that winds are named based on where they originate? So, a sea breeze comes from the sea and a land breeze comes from the land! Remembering this will make learning about breezes, well, a breeze!

So, our tour of Cuba and the sea and land breezes is coming to an end, but realize you can see sea and land breezes along most coastlines or even landmasses that are near a large body of water. So, before we go to our next breeze, why don't you make a few stops to see if you can find any more sea and land breezes. Check out Florida, and then move up the East coast and maybe breeze up the West coast!

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