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Experiments on the motion of long alternating current arcs in atmospheric air show that the anode and cathode arc roots have different motion characteristics because of different formation mechanisms. During a half cycle of the arc current, the anode arc root moves towards the direction of magnetic force and occasionally has a jumping motion, while the cathode arc root moves sufficiently slow to consider it stationary and hardly has any jump. The arc column has a complex shape and moves under the drive of the magnetic force and is also quickened by the lower arc root.