Winds are directional atmospheric movements. On Earth, they are the movement of air, and exist in three basic types:

  • winds due to large pressure systems, which are in turn caused by sunlight heating the ground, and are affected by the rotation of the Earth. (Without solar heating, the air would rotate against the Earth's rotation, due to the drag of the solar wind.)
  • cold air falling down a mountain, creating a katabatic wind or Foehn wind.
  • sea and land breezes, caused by the gain or loss of solar heat at different rates by land and sea.

Air moves due to pressure differences from areas of high pressure (highs) to areas of low pressure (lows). The atmospheric pressure varies due to the amount of moisture in the air, humidity, dry air being heavier than moist air and temperature of the air, warmer air being lighter than cold air. In general lows form over water, highs over dry land areas.

Lows and highs are essentially circular "valleys" and "hills" in the athmosphere in terms of pressure; movement occuring within them corresponding to the pressure gradient. These winds have a circular pattern, blowing counter-clockwise about a low, clockwise about a high.

Due to differences in latitude, the planet's axial tilt, and the reflection and absorption of different materials and gases, some parts of the Earth get more energy than others, and they also have different capacities for holding on to that heat. Hot air expands, and that expansion causes the air to have a lower density. Colder air, with a higher density, will tend to displace warmer air by moving in under it. Since cold air holds less water vapor, there is often rain at the boundaries, or weather fronts, between air masses at different temperatures.

Over large bodies of water near the equator, monsoons and typhoons form, driven by the heat of the underlying water.

Patterns in winds around the world have long been known, both as semi-permanent phenomena, such as the jet streams, which are primarily rotational effects, and periodical occurrences, such as the shifting of the trade winds in the tropics and such seasonal winds as the scirocco.

Wind direction is according to where it comes from: north wind blows towards the south.

Wind is imperative to sailing. Windmills also use the energy of wind, either directly (as to grind grain) or to generate electricity.

Wind tends to hug the ground and travel in layers so when it hits a hill the layers bunch up resulting in high wind speeds at the top of the hill. Low pressure areas are created on the windward side of the hill and the opposite side of the hill. Eddies form in these areas with the wind eddy called the bolster eddy and the other eddy is called the lee eddy.

In the narrows of a canyon the layers of wind converge at the narrowest point of the canyon creating bolster eddies on either side of the start of the narrows and lee eddies on the opposite side.

In craters the layers of wind converge at the rim of the crater creating strong winds. Winds at the bottom of the crater are light but chaotic and disappear half way to the rim. Eddies form in middle.

See also: Beaufort scale, meteorology, windstorm, horse latitude, doldrums.

Table of contents
1 Classical wind names
2 Modern wind names
3 External link

Classical wind names

In ancient Greek mythology, the four winds were personified as gods. Roman writers later gave them Latin names.

north windBoreasAquilo
south windNotosAuster
east windEurosEurus
west windZephyrosFavonius
north-west windSkiron or SkeironCaurus or Corus
north-east windKaikiasCaecius
south-east windEuros or ApeliotusVolturnus or Vulturnus
south-west windLips or LivosAfricus or Afer ventus
north-north-west windThrascius
west-south-west windLibs

Modern wind names

Many local wind systems have their own names. For example:
  • scirocco (southerly from North Africa to southern Europe)
  • mistral (northwesterly from central France to Mediterranean)
  • levanter (easterly through Strait of Gibraltar)
  • vendavel (westerly through Strait of Gibraltar)
  • marin (south-easterly from Mediterranean to France)
  • bora (northeasterly from eastern Europe to Italy)
  • gregale (northeasterly from Greece)
  • \etesian (northwesterly from Greece)
  • libeccio (southwesterly towards Italy)
  • chinook {easterly off the Rocky Mountains
  • Santa Ana

A List of Named Winds [1]

External link