THE MOVEMENT OF AIR: WINDS

We have all felt the relief brought by cool evening breezes after a hot day. And sometimes, we are lucky enough to get rains after some days of really hot weather. What causes the movement of air, and what decides whether this movement will be in the form of a gentle breeze, a strong wind or a terrible storm? What brings us the welcome rains?

All these phenomena are the result of changes that take place in our atmosphere due to the heating of air and the formation of water vapour. Water vapour is formed due to the heating of water bodies and the activities of living organisms. The atmosphere can be heated from below by the radiation that is reflected back or re-radiated by the land or water bodies. On being heated, convection currents are set up in the air. In order to gain some understanding of the nature of convection currents.

Air currents being caused by the uneven heating of air

The patterns revealed by the smoke show us the directions in which hot and cold air move. In a similar manner, when air is heated by radiation from the heated land or water, it rises. But since land gets heated faster than water, the air over land would also be heated faster than the air over water bodies. So, if we look at the situation in coastal regions during the day, the air above the land gets heated faster and starts rising. As this
air rises, a region of low pressure is created and air over the sea moves into this area of low pressure. The movement of air from one region to the other creates winds. During the day, the direction of the wind would be from the sea to the land.

At night, both land and sea start to cool. Since water cools down slower than the land, the air above water would be warmer than the air above land.

On the basis of the above discussion, what can you say about:

  1. the appearance of areas of low and high pressure in coastal areas at night?
  2. the direction in which air would flow at night in coastal areas?

Similarly, all the movements of air resulting in diverse atmospheric phenomena are caused by the uneven heating of the atmosphere in different regions of the Earth. But various other factors also influence these winds – the rotation of the Earth and the presence of mountain ranges in the paths of the wind are a couple of these factors. We will not go into these factors in detail in this notes, but think about this: how do the
presence of the Himalayas change the flow of a wind blowing from Allahabad towards the north?

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