What Is Wind?

Sailboat Wind, Smithsonian
Whether arriving on a gentle breeze or a stiff gale, air moves like water responding to high and low pressures around the Earth.
Wind is an ever-present force. From a gentle breeze to a cold arctic blast, it is constantly shaping the landscape and the weather. But where does wind come from?

Simply put, wind is the motion of the air around us, generated by differences in pressure in the Earth’s atmosphere. Air is a fluid, and just like water, it obeys the laws of fluid dynamics. It will seek to flow from a region of higher pressure to one of lower pressure, says Chris Maier, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service.

Earth’s air-filled atmosphere is constantly but unevenly pressurized, with highs and lows at various places caused by the uneven heating of Earth’s surface by the sun. The air at the North or South Pole is colder and denser, while the air at the Equator is warmer and rises more easily. The colder, more highly pressurized polar air is constantly trying to move down to the Equator to replace the warm, rising air.

That creates Earth’s overall global circulation, says Maier. There are wind belts that circle the planet along latitudinal lines, each having particular characteristics and creating specific weather patterns.

One of those bands is the Intertropical Convergence Zone near the Equator, where the trade winds meet. Sailors named the trade winds, navigating by them because of their fairly dependable behavior.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the trade winds are created

read more/see vid —>  http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/


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