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Air stops rising when it meets air of equal density, then diverges at high level to produce more wind

which eventually sinks elsewhere to complete the circulation cell

Pressure, Wind and Weather Systems


WINDS are horizontal flows of air; winds blow from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure (nature tries to equalise pressure)

PRESSURE describes the tendency of the air to rise or to sink at any given place or time.

Insolation
Air heated by contact with ground expands; becomes less dense and rises

Air tends to rise or sink as a result of its density.

Air density varies with altitude but, at the ground level, air density is governed by its temperature.

Denser air drawn in at low level to replace rising, less dense air

LOW PRESSURE Sun heats up ground

Thus, variations in radiation and temperature control pressure and wind.

Denser air drawn in at low level to replace rising, less dense air

GLOBAL PRESSURE & WIND


North Pole 90N

Arctic circle 66.5N

HIGH

ZONE of least heating produces HIGH PRESSURE

Tropic of Cancer 23.5N

Equator 0
Tropic of Capricorn 23.5N

LOW

ZONE of greatest heating produces LOW PRESSURE

Antarctic circle 66.5S

HIGH

ZONE of least heating produces HIGH PRESSURE

North Pole 90N

GLOBAL PRESSURE & WIND


Global circulation depends on differential heating over the globe. The system is driven by strong equatorial heating, causing LOW PRESSURE. Equatorial air rises, diverges and descends over the tropics, where HIGH PRESSURE dominates; where it diverges at ground level. This tropical air blows towards the equator, completing the equatorial cell, or towards the mid-latitides where it meets cold, dense polar air blown out from the polar HIGH PRESSURE. These contrasting tropical and polar air masses meet at the POLAR FRONT LOW PRESSURE BELT, where the warmer air is forced upwards by the polar air. At high level, this air again diverges towards the pole or to the tropic.
Rising air diverges at the tropopause, where a permanent temperature inversion results in warmer air above.

POLAR HIGH
POLAR FRONT (LOW PRESSURE)

TROPICAL HIGH

EQUATORIAL (Inter-tropical convergence zone - ITCZ) LOW

Wind strength depends on the difference in pressure between the high and low Farmers plant trees to protect orchards, pressure systems, and the houses, stock or prevent soil erosion distance between them. This is called the PRESSURE GRADIENT; it is a similar concept to the physical slope between two places, shown on Locally, wind is channelled a contour map. Pressure is down streets (wind canyons). shown by ISOBARS on a weather map. Strong winds also occur Pressure difference in low latitudes due to essentially depends on the stronger heating and temperature difference steeper presure gradients. between the two places. Hurricanes and A steep pressure gradient results tornadoes are both from a large pressure difference Strong polar winds due to low tropical phenomena. or short distance between places friction and causes strong wind.

WIND DIRECTION & STRENGTH

Hurricane in Florida

Tornado in USA

Beach windbreaks reduce windsped by increasing friction

High

CORIOLIS FORCE
Theoretical wind which would result solely from pressure gradient

Actual wind which blows, as diverted by Coriolis Force

Low

Pressure gradient wind blows from high presure towards low pressure. The earths rotation diverts this wind direction laterally. This force is called the CORIOLIS FORCE. The Coriolis force diverts wind the the right in the northern hemisphere; to the left in the south. The effect is stronger at high altitude where ground level friction is less significant.

LOW In the north, winds blow anticlockwise into a low pressure system. In the south, they blow

In the north, winds blow clockwise out from a high pressure. (In the south, they blow anti-clockwise).

HIGH

GLOBAL PRESSURE & WIND


POLAR HIGH PRESSURE POLAR FRONT MID-LATITUDE LOW PRESSURE INTER-TROPICAL CONVERGENCE ZONE -LOW PRESSURE

TROPICAL HIGH PRESSURE

TROPICAL HIGH PRESSURE

POLAR FRONT MID-LATITUDE LOW PRESSURE

POLAR HIGH PRESSURE

GLOBAL WIND BELTS (trade winds) are controlled by the major pressure belts, which relate fundamentally to temperature. Regional wind systems (eg the Indian Monsoon) relate to continental heating effects, and seasonal changes. Local winds relate to smaller scale temperature contrasts (ie Aspect, Albedo, Altitude etc).

HIGH PRESSURE
High Pressure means that air tends to sink. Sinking air is compressed, warms up as a result and its relative humidity falls below saturation. Any clouds evaporate. Rainfall is unlikely, apart from occasional short, intense convectional storms due to insolation with lack of clouds in daytime.

LITTLE WIND CLEAR SKIES

VISIBILITY IS POOR

FEW CLOUDS

In Britain, high pressure systems have clear skies, little or no wind, little rainfall and tend to be stable and slow moving. Visibility is intially good, but rapidly deteriorates as dust is trapped by sinking air and is not washed out by rainfall. Cloud cover is slight, resulting in a high diurnal ranges of temperature (hot days, cold nights). Due to the trapped dust particles and cold nights, dew, frost, fog or smog are common. Air quality is low as all forms of pollution are retained in the lower atmosphere.

CLEAR SKIES CAUSE FROST

VISIBLITY REMAINS BETTER IN MOUNTAINS - LESS POLLUTION

FOG & SMOG IS COMMON

LOW-LATITUDE LOW PRESSURE SYSTEMS


Low pressure systems involve air that tends to rise, thus causing clouds and precipitation. Those near the equator tend to be high energy due to strong ground heating (convectional). Low pressure systems may develop tornadoes and sometimes develop into hurricanes, fuelled by warm, very humid air evaporated from tropical oceans in summer. They tend to be fast moving, with plenty of cloud cover that reduces diurnal temperature range, strong winds and high rainfall.
Hurricane off USA fuelled by hot humid air over the Caribbean A tornado may develop from a cumulo-nimbus cloud

A convectional cumulo-nimbus cloud results from strong ground heating at the equator

MID-LATITUDE LOW PRESSURE SYSTEMS


Mid-latitude low pressure systems are called depressions in Britain. They also involve rising air, clouds, strong winds and rainfall and are fast moving.
POLAR MARITIME from Greenland Cool, humid. ARCTIC MARITIME from Arctic Ocean Cold, humid. POLAR CONTINENTAL from E.Europe Cold, dry in winter Warm, dry in summer.

Depressions result from the convergence of warm air from the tropical high pressure belt with cold air from the poles along the Polar Front. The energy of the depresion is a result of the difference in temperature and humidity between the two air masses. This contrast varies with the exact origin of the air mass, the season and the nature of the surface over which they have passed.

POLAR MARITIME RETURN Coolish, very humid.

TROPICAL MARITIME from Atlantic near tropic Warm, humid

TROPICAL CONTINENTAL From N.Africa Hot, dry

POLAR FRONT this shifts polewards in summer and equatorward s in winter, hence British seasonal contrasts.

MID-LATITUDE LOW PRESSURE SYSTEMS


Mid-latitude low pressure systems are called depressions in Britain. They also involve rising air, clouds, strong winds and rainfall and are fast moving. Depressions over NW Europe
POLAR MARITIME AIR
WARM FRONT COLD FRONT WARM FRONT

Depressions (L) over Europe showing FRONTS

OCCLUDED FRONT Cold & warm fronts meet

COLD FRONT

COLD FRONT

TROPICAL MARTIME AIR

Depressions result from the convergence of warm air from the tropical high pressure belt with cold air from the poles along the Polar Front. The systems move rapidly across the Atlantic before filling and drifting north-eastwards to Scandinavia from Britain. The energy of the depresion is a result of the difference in temperature and humidity between the two air masses. This contrast varies with the exact origin of the air mass, the season and the nature of the surface over which they have passed.

A FRONT is the boundary betwen two air masses. A depression has two, a warm (the front of the warm air) and a cold.

WARM FRONTS
The warm front is angled gently due to ground level friction which slows the air at low level as the whole system moves eastwards.

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TROPICAL MARITIME AIR

POLAR MARITIME AIR

As the warm tropical maritime air moves eastwards towards Britain, it is forced upwards by colder, denser polar maritime air. The speed of uplift depends on the relative temperature of the two air masses. Uplift causes expansion, cooling, falling relative humidity until dew point temperature is reached when condensation starts to occur on particles. The amount of precipitation depends on the hunidity and temperature of the warm air mass, and the particles available.

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MAINLY STRATUS CLOUDS

POLAR MARITIME

COLD FRONTS
TROPICAL MARITIME

As the depression moves eastwards, the warm tropical air continues to be forced upwards by the colder, denser polar air mass.

The cold front is steeper, also due to ground level friction slowing the lower air, so uplift is more rapid than along the warm front. This causes cumulo-nimbus clouds and possible thunderstorms rather than thick stratus cloud. Eventually, the two fronts meet, forcing the warm air off the ground. This is an OCCLUDED FRONT (occlusion), and happens to all depressions as they fill. The whole system takes about 24 hours to pass.

OCCLUSION Tm air forced up

Pm air meets at ground level