Local and Global Wind Patterns

What is Wind?

Wind is air on the move. Wind is produced by the uneven heating of the earth's surface by the sun. Since earth's surface has land and water formations, the earth absorbs the sun's heat unevenly.

What is the jet stream?

The jet stream is a fast moving, "river" of air. It is about three to eight miles above the earth's surface. The jet stream flows from west to east. It was discovered by scientists about 50 years ago.

What are global wind patterns?

The equator receives the sun's direct rays. The air near the equator heats and rises. When the warm air moves to a colder latitude the air cools and sinks. Most of the air moves back to the equator. The rest moves toward the poles.

What is a sea breeze?

When air above the surface of the land is heated by radiation from the sun, it expands and rises, being lighter than the surrounding air. Cooler air is drawn in from the surface of the sea, replacing the rising air. That is a sea breeze.

What is a land breeze?

A land breeze is produced at night because the land cools faster than the sea. Air above the surface of the water heats and rises, pulling in air from the cooler land surface. That is a land breeze.

What are prevailing westerlies?

Between 30 and 60 degrees latitude, the winds that move toward the the poles appear to curve slightly to the east. Because winds are named from the direction in which they are produced, these winds are called prevailing westerlies. Prevailing westerlies in the Northern Hemisphere make other weather movements across the United States and Canada happen.

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