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Global Wind Patterns

The region of Earth receiving the Sun's direct rays is the equator. Here, air is heated and rises,
leaving low pressure areas behind. Moving to about thirty degrees north and south of the equator,
the warm air from the equator begins to cool and sink. Between thirty degrees latitude and the
equator, most of the cooling sinking air moves back to the equator. The rest of the air flows
toward the poles. The air movements toward the equator are called trade winds- warm, steady
breezes that blow almost continuously. The Coriolis Effect makes the trade winds appear to be
curving to the west, whether they are traveling to the equator from the south or north.

Why are winds called trade winds?
In: Meteorology and Weather [Edit categories]
ANSWER: olden days cargo ships sailed with the help these prevailing winds
2.easterlies were very helpful for sailing of cargo ship

The trade winds coming from the south and the north meet near the equator. These converging
trade winds produce general upward winds as they are heated, so there are no steady surface
winds. This area of calm is called the doldrums.
Between thirty and sixty degrees latitude, the winds that move toward the poles appear to curve
to the east. Because winds are named from the direction in which they originate, these winds are
called prevailing westerlies. Prevailing westerlies in the Northern Hemisphere are responsible
for many of the weather movements across the United States and Canada.
At about sixty degrees latitude in both hemispheres, the prevailing westerlies join with polar
easterlies to reduce upward motion. The polar easterlies form when the atmosphere over the
poles cools. This cool air then sinks and spreads over the surface. As the air flows away from the
poles, it is turned to the west by the Coriolis effect. Again, because these winds begin in the east,
they are called easterlies. Many of these changes in wind direction are hard to visualize.
Complete this exercise to see the pattern of the winds.
Materials Needed
o illustration below
o pencil
o colored pencil or markers

Carefully read the paragraphs above. Draw arrows to represent wind movement, be sure to show
how winds change direction at certain latitudes, which are labeled for you. Arrows representing
the trade winds have already been drawn. Use orange to color the trade winds, green for the
prevailing westerlies, and blue for the polar easterlies. You may need to look back at the results
of Blow, Wind, Blow to be able to show the Coriolis effect.
1. What winds would Columbus have used to travel from Spain to the Caribbean?
2. Which winds would he have needed to return to Europe?
3. Would winds have favored European explorers seeking to travel east around the tip of
Blow, Wind, Blow!
1. Yes
2. No, it is curved to the left
3. The wind's path is straight, but the Earth rotates beneath the wind.
4. It just seems to change.
5. They would still curve to the left but would be blowing from the opposite pole.
Global Wind Patterns
1. Trade winds
2. Prevailing westerlies
3. No
Clouds in a Bottle
1. No. The gas inside a very cold can is not under much pressure because there is little heat.
Since there is not much change in pressure when the can is opened, the gas does not
a. In the morning
b. At night, the ground surface cools by radiating heat to space. Air near the ground
cools to the dew point temperature, causing water in the air to condense.
Trade Winds
Wind flows outward down the pressure gradient away from the subtropical highs. As it does so,
it encounters the coriolis effect caused by the rotation of the Earth. This force causes the winds in
the Northern Hemisphere to move from the east towards the west below the subtropical high, and
from the west towards the east above the subtropical high. The opposite is true in the Southern
Hemisphere. Above the subtropical high winds move from east to west, and below the
subtropical high winds move from west to the east.

Thus, in the Northern Hemisphere below the subtropical high, which is located just above the
equator, we find winds blowing from east towards the west. At the same time, in the Southern
Hemisphere above the subtropical high, which is located just below the equator, we also find that
winds are blowing from the east towards the west. The result is that between 30 North latitude
and 30 South latitude winds usually blow from the east towards the west. Winds are named for
the direction from which they come. Thus, this wind is referred to as an easterly wind. These
easterly winds are known as the trade winds.

Above the subtropical highs in the Northern Hemisphere, and below the subtropical highs in the
Southern Hemisphere, winds blow from the west towards the east. These winds are thus called
westerly winds, after the direction from whence the winds come.

The westerlies generally blow between 30 and 60 latitude in both the Northern and Southern
hemispheres. The higher one travels into the atmosphere, the more noticeable these westerly
winds are.
At the core of the westerly winds lies what scientists call a jet stream. Jet streams are super high-
speed winds. Each hemispheres westerly has two main jet streams. Closer to the poles we find
the polar jet stream. At a slightly lower latitude we find the subtropical jet stream.
Subpolar Lows
Located above each of the poles we find a semi-permanent low pressure. This low pressure is
almost always present, and is the cause for many of the storms that follow the westerlies into the
continents of the Earth.
While much more prominent in the winter, these subpolar lows generally exist above 60 of
latitude either north or south.
Polar Easterlies
The subpolar lows generally cause the winds above 60 latitude to move from the east towards
the west. We call these winds the polar easterlies.

Localized Wind Phenomena
So far we have talked about global wind patterns that affect vast regions of the Earth. It is
important to also realize that there are many localized wind patterns that can have a significant
impact on a localized area.

Sea and Land Breezes

During the day, land gets heated by the Sun much quicker than does water. As the land becomes
warmer, it heats the air in the atmosphere above it. This causes the air to expand, becoming less
dense, and thus creating a low pressure.
Because water heats up much less quickly, air above the ocean also takes longer to increase in
temperature. The result is that a higher pressure is maintained.
With a high pressure above the water and a lower pressure above the land, conditions are perfect
for a small breeze to develop. Wind blows from the sea towards the land along the pressure
gradient in an attempt to equalize pressure. This is known as a sea breeze.
In the night, land cools down much quicker than does the waters of the ocean. As the land
becomes cooler, so does the air above it. This results in air becoming more dense, forming a high
pressure, causing winds to blow outward towards the sea. This is known as a land breeze.
Thus, in the day we often see sea breezes, while in the evening we see land breezes in coastal
Mountain and Valley Breezes

In areas where there are mountains and valleys we see a type of wind pattern known as mountain
breezes and valley breezes. During the day, the surface of the mountain heats the air high up in
the atmosphere, quicker than the valley floor can. As the warmer air expands a low pressure is
created near the top of the mountain. This attracts the air from the valley, creating a breeze that
blows from the valley floor up towards the top of the mountain. Often birds known as raptors,
such as eagles, hawks, condors and vultures, float on these breezes to preserve their energy. This
wind pattern is known as a valley breeze.
In the evening, the mountain slopes cool the surrounding air more quickly than the air found
lower in the atmosphere. This creates a high pressure as air becomes more densely packed. The
resulting high pressure causes winds to blow down the mountain towards the valley floor. This
type of wind pattern is known as a mountain breeze.
Thus, in the daytime we typically see valley breezes as winds blow from the valley up towards
the mountains. In the night we often see mountain breezes as winds travel from the mountains
down towards the valleys.

Moisture in the Atmosphere
Moisture in the air is something that almost all of us are familiar with. We see its effects
practically on a daily basis. Moisture or water in the atmosphere causes clouds to form, fog to
cover the landscape, and humidity to thicken the air. It also causes rain, snow, hail and sleet to
form. Indeed, water gas is one of the most important elements of our home planets

Water from the atmosphere can create dramatic short term and long term changes to the
landscape around us. Events like super charged storms can dump buckets of water in a single
location, creating floods. Over time, regular rain cycles cause erosion, literally changing the
shape of the surface of the Earth.
The water gas found in the atmosphere is colorless, tasteless and odorless. Usually we are only
aware of its presence in cases of extremes. When the air is extremely laden with water vapor it
feels sticky. We say that the air is very humid. At times of extreme dryness, our lips crack,
becoming chapped.

How the trade winds affect the climate?
In: Climatology and Climate Changes [Edit categories]
Trade winds direct the prevailing wind in a somewhat constant direction East across the tropical regions
of the globe. The winds affect the amount of moisture an area gets, directing tropical storms and often
times resulting in rain shadows. The winds may also help distribute nutrients.
The winds pick up moisture across the ocean and generally cause the landfall areas to be wet, at least
for a season. Such areas include South and Central American rain forests, Caribbean islands, Southeast
Asia, and East India. Any mountainous areas generally produce a rain shadow affect; the side facing
the prevailing wind (Eastern side) is moist and the side facing away from the wind (Western side) is
generally dry. Areas facing diretly into the front of the wind may also be subject to large amount of
evaporation (usually along the coastal edges).

Furthermore, the winds move in convection currents that cause areas around the equator to be moister
than those areas around 30 degrees north or south. The northeast trade winds fall at 30 degrees north;
falling they're dry and create high pressure so it tends not to rain there. They travel along southwest
until they meet with the southeast trade winds at the equator (which have been flowing northwest);
both winds meet and cause each other to lift up. Being rich in moisture and low in pressure causes it to
rain. The now dry air travels north again, this time high in the atmosphere above the moist southern-
bound winds. Likewise, the dry southern trade wind air travels south high in the atmosphere. This
pattern causes deserts and savannas at 30 degrees north and 30 degrees south, tropical deciduous
forest between there and the equator, and tropical rain forests around the equator.

Trade winds even affect the marine climate. For example, recently there has been an outbreak of a
fungus that attacks sea sponges alone the Caribbean islands. These sponges provide food for some
species of endangered sea turtles. It is theorized that the fungus spores are a result of deforestation in
areas of Africa and have been blown along the trade winds from there. Other incidents of coral illness in
the Caribbean have been linked to drouts in Africa which may release more traveling dust.
These nutrients, being blown around the globe, may also help forested areas obtain trace amounts of

Trade wind
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the weather phenomenon. For other uses, see Tradewind.

The westerlies (blue arrows) and trade winds (yellow and brown arrows)
The trade winds (sometimes called trades) are the prevailing pattern of easterly surface winds
found in the tropics, within the lower portion of the Earth's atmosphere, in the lower section of
the troposphere near the Earth's equator.
The trade winds blow predominantly from the
northeast in the Northern Hemisphere and from the southeast in the Southern Hemisphere,
strengthening during the winter and when the Arctic oscillation is in its warm phase. Historically,
the trade winds have been used by captains of sailing ships to cross the world's oceans for
centuries, and enabled European empire expansion into the Americas and trade routes to become
established across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
In meteorology, the trade winds act as the steering flow for tropical storms that form over the
Atlantic, Pacific, and southern Indian Oceans and make landfall in North America, Southeast
Asia, and Madagascar and eastern Africa, respectively. Trade winds also steer African dust
westward across the Atlantic Ocean into the Caribbean Sea, as well as portions of southeastern
North America. Shallow cumulus clouds are seen within trade wind regimes, and are capped
from becoming taller by a trade wind inversion, which is caused by descending air aloft from
within the subtropical ridge. The weaker the trade winds become, the more rainfall can be
expected in the neighboring landmasses.
1 History
2 Cause
3 Weather effects
4 See also
5 References

A Spanish galleon
See also: Age of Discovery and Age of sail
The term trade winds originally derives from the early fourteenth century late Middle English
word 'trade' meaning "path" or "track."
The Portuguese recognized the importance of the trade
winds in navigation in the Atlantic ocean as early as the 15th century.
They learned, in order to
reach South Africa, they needed to go far out in the ocean, head for Brazil and around 30S go
east again. Following the African coast southbound means upwind in the Southern hemisphere.
In the Pacific ocean, the full wind circulation, which included both the trade wind easterlies and
higher-latitude Westerlies, was un-known (to Europeans) until Andres de Urdaneta's voyage in

The captain of a sailing ship seeks a course along which the winds can be expected to blow in the
direction of travel.
During the Age of Sail the pattern of prevailing winds made various points
of the globe easy or difficult to access, and therefore had a direct impact on European empire-
building and thus on modern political geography. For example, Manila galleons could not sail
into the wind at all.

By the 18th century the importance of the trade winds to England's merchant fleet for crossing
the Atlantic Ocean had led both the general public and etymologists to identify the name with a
later meaning of 'trade', "(foreign) commerce".
Between 1847 and 1849, Matthew Fontaine
Maury collected enough information to create wind and current charts for the world's oceans.

The French word, also a women's name, Aliz or Alize (French pronunciation: [], means
trade winds. Examples are: Alize and Aliz Cornet.

3D map showing Hadley cells in relationship to trade winds on the surface.
See also: Air mass, Hadley cell, Humidity, Intertropical Convergence Zone, Monsoon, Monsoon trough,
Near-equatorial trough and Prevailing winds
As part of the Hadley cell circulation, surface air flows toward the equator while the flow aloft is
towards the poles. A low-pressure area of calm, light variable winds near the equator is known as
the doldrums,
equatorial trough,
intertropical front, or the Intertropical Convergence Zone.

When located within a monsoon region, this zone of low pressure and wind convergence is also
known as the monsoon trough.
Around 30 in both hemispheres air begins to descend toward
the surface in subtropical high-pressure belts known as subtropical ridges. The subsident
(sinking) air is relatively dry because, as it descends, the temperature increases but the absolute
humidity remains constant, which lowers the relative humidity of the air mass. This warm, dry
air is known as a superior air mass and normally resides above a maritime tropical (warm and
moist) air mass. An increase of temperature with height is known as a temperature inversion.
When it occurs within a trade wind regime, it is known as a trade wind inversion.

The surface air that flows from these subtropical high-pressure belts toward the Equator is
deflected toward the west in both hemispheres by the Coriolis effect.
These winds blow
predominantly from the northeast in the Northern Hemisphere and from the southeast in the
Southern Hemisphere.
Because winds are named for the direction from which the wind is
these winds are called the northeasterly trade winds in the Northern Hemisphere and
the southeasterly trade winds in the Southern Hemisphere. The trade winds meet at the

As they blow across tropical regions, air masses heat up over lower latitudes due to more direct
sunlight. Those that develop over land (continental) are drier and hotter than those that develop
over oceans (maritime), and travel northward on the western periphery of the subtropical
Maritime tropical air masses are sometimes referred to as trade air masses.
The one
region of the Earth which has an absence of trade winds is the north Indian ocean.

Weather effects

N Pali coast, Kauai, showing trade wind cumuli
Clouds which form above regions within trade wind regimes are typically composed of cumulus
which extend no more than 4 kilometres (13,000 ft) in height, and are capped from being taller
by the trade wind inversion.
Trade winds originate more from the direction of the poles
(northeast in the Northern Hemisphere, southeast in the Southern Hemisphere) during the cold
season, and are stronger in the winter than the summer.
As an example, the windy season in
the Guianas, which lie at low latitudes in South America, occurs between January and April.

When the phase of the Arctic oscillation (AO) is warm, trade winds are stronger within the
tropics. The cold phase of the AO leads to weaker trade winds.
When the trade winds are
weaker, more extensive areas of rain fall upon landmasses within the tropics, such as Central

During mid-summer in the Northern Hemisphere (July), the westward-moving trade winds south
of the northward-moving subtropical ridge expand northwestward from the Caribbean sea into
southeastern North America. When dust from the Sahara moving around the southern periphery
of the ridge travels over land, rainfall is suppressed and the sky changes from a blue to a white
appearance which leads to an increase in red sunsets. Its presence negatively impacts air quality
by adding to the count of airborne particulates.
Over 50% of the African dust that reaches the
United States affects Florida.
Since 1970, dust outbreaks have worsened due to periods of
drought in Africa. There is a large variability in the dust transport to the Caribbean and Florida
from year to year.
Dust events have been linked to a decline in the health of coral reefs across
the Caribbean and Florida, primarily since the 1970s.