Discuss in detail 3 factors that affect wind.

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ncchemist eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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).

sid-sarfraz | Student

Basically wind is the moving air in horizontal direction moving from left to right. The air near the land is warm and light weight where as the air above is cold and weigh more as compared to warm air. The warm air rises and mixes with cold air hence changes its form and becomes cold and comes down to adjust space left by warm air. This the process that cause winds.

The factors on which winds depend are as follows:-

  • Pressure Gradient Forces

Basically winds are the result of the process in which the air moves as to equalize pressure from high pressure to low pressure areas. Therefore, Pressure gradient is the difference between the high pressure area and low pressure area like as from south pole which is warm to north pole which is cold. The force that tends for this process to take place is called Pressure Gradient force.

  • Coriolis Effect

As we know that earth rotates around its axis. We can not feel it but things like wind, air, planes, water etc are affected. Winds blowing in a straight line becomes curved changing their direction, this is referred to as the Coriolis effect. 

  • Friction

Basically friction is a force that stops or slows down any object moving. Winds blowing near the surface of the earth are greatly affected by friction like winds blowing through mountains, trees etc causes the direction of wind to change. Where as winds blowing away from the surface of the earth are less affected by friction.

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