Monday, 17 July 2017

The Fundamental Workings Of The Wind

Weather is caused by the interplay of the sun, the air, and water. The most fundamental of its forces is the wind, the movement of air from one place to another. The very movement of the wind influences the pattern of the weather. Winds carry water vapor up to the troposphere, where it condenses into clouds, which are then carried across vast distances. Surface currents, themselves part of a complex conveyor of warm and cool water across the Earth’s oceans, are driven in part by the winds.


All air is constantly in motion: wind is rapidly moving air, caused ultimately, by the actions of the sun and influenced by the interplay of heat and pressure. As the sun rises, the air is gradually warmed. As a gaseous mixture, warm air expands—losing density and pressure—and rises. Air from higher pressure (usually cooler) areas thus moves in to fill the void left by the rising air.

Because of the role played by pressure in creating wind movement, measuring the pressure of air has become a staple part of meteorology. Detecting areas of low pressure can allow meteorologists to predict the likelihood of stormy weather accurately.


The winds experienced every day are rather subtle differences in pressure, the result of the fluctuations caused by sunlight over the course of the day. Stronger winds are caused by much more concentrated differences in pressure, such as those experienced when warm air currents from the tropics collide with cooler air from the poles, creating an immense turbulent movement that, in the right conditions, would turn into a storm.

Jim Byrne is a seasoned weatherman and the former chief meteorologist for KCOY CBS-12. This blog shares more updates on the fundamentals of the weather.