(ORDO NEWS) — Physics allows you to predict the movement of winds in the atmosphere, and quite often their direction tends to change. But how does the direction of the wind change at the equator?
The equator is a special region where winds are very rare. And that’s why.
When you are outside, you may notice that one day the wind is blowing in one direction and the next day in another. This is a fairly common occurrence. However, many winds on Earth are quite predictable.
For example, high in the atmosphere, air currents usually blow from west to east. And the trade winds blowing closer to the surface of the Earth spread from east to west near the equator.
The trade winds have been used by sailors for centuries. Sailors traveling from Europe or Africa used the trade winds to travel to North or South America. Just as airplanes can use jet streams to speed up, sailors can use the trade winds to shorten their sea travel when sailing west.
The trade winds blow west due in part to the rotation of the Earth on its axis. Trade winds are formed when warm, moist air from the equator rises higher into the atmosphere, while colder air near the poles sinks into its lower layers.
So, if air circulates from the equator to the poles, why don’t all winds blow from north to south? This is where the rotation of the planet comes into play. Because the Earth rotates as air moves, winds in the Northern Hemisphere bend to the right, while air in the Southern Hemisphere bends to the left.
This phenomenon is called the Coriolis effect, which is why the trade winds blow westward in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The trade winds can be found about 30 degrees north and south of the equator.
Right at the equator, there is almost no wind at all – this area is sometimes called a depression. The trade winds move from the equatorial regions, but there is simply no wind at the equator itself.
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