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Discuss in detail 3 factors that affect wind.

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hero88 | Salutatorian

Posted March 21, 2013 at 4:48 PM via web

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Discuss in detail 3 factors that affect wind.

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ncchemist | eNotes Employee

Posted March 22, 2013 at 1:01 AM (Answer #1)

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Wind is the movement of air.  In the Earth's atmosphere, it can be on a large scale (jet stream, hurricane) or on a small scale (a gentle summer breeze off a lake).  Three of the major factors that affect wind are pressure gradients, the rotation of the planet, and friction. 

Wind is ultimately caused by atmospheric pressure gradients.  Wind travels from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure.  The stronger these areas of pressure are, and the closer they are to one another, the stronger the wind produced will be.

The rotation of the Earth on its axis has an effect on the wind.  This is called the Coriolis effect.  The Coriolis effect is a little complicated, but it ultimately means that the wind on a large scale does not move in a linear fashion.  The rotation of the planet causes the wind to shift direction when viewed from the frame of reference of the Earth.  If you look at a map of pressure gradients on an active weather day, they are not straight lines, but highly curved ones.  The Coriolis effect is also why hurricanes rotate in different directions on different sides of the equator.

Finally, friction affects wind as well.  Wind that is close to the surface of the Earth tends to move slower than wind in the upper atmosphere.  This is due to the friction the wind encounters with the ground and objects on the surface (trees, etc).

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