Wind -> Understanding Wind

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Winds are plotted on surface weather analyses indicating the direction the wind is blowing from as well as its strength. Shorter duration winds, such as wind gusts, exceed the minimum value over the observed time frame and can cause substantial damage to power lines and suspension bridges. Winds with an intermediate duration, which sharply increase and last for a minute are termed squalls. Long-duration wind speeds have various names associated with their average strength, such as breeze, gale, storm, hurricane, and typhoon.

Wind occurs on a range of scales, from local breezes generated by heating of land surfaces and lasting tens of minutes, to global winds resulting from the difference in absorption of solar energy between the climate zones on Earth. The two major driving factors of large scale atmospheric circulation are the differential heating between the equator and the poles, which causes the jet stream and the associated climatological mid-latitude westerlies, polar easterlies, and the trade winds, and the rotation of the planet (Coriolis effect), which causes the circular motion of air around areas of high and low pressure.

Within the tropics, thermal low circulations over terrain and high plateaus can drive monsoon circulations. In areas where winds tend to be light, the sea breeze/land breeze cycle is the most important to the prevailing wind; in areas that have variable terrain, mountain and valley breezes dominate the wind pattern.


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