Global atmospheric circulation

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global atmospheric circulation animation

Though the Hadley cell is described as located at the equator, in the northern hemisphere it shifts to higher latitudes in June and July and toward lower latitudes in December and January, which is the result of the Sun's heating of the surface.

A similar air mass rising on the other side of the equator forces those rising air masses to move poleward. Biomes So if we now look at the map of biomes and climates from around the world we can see the pattern: tropical rainforests near the equator, deserts at 30 degrees north and south, temperate rainforests between 40 and 50 degrees latitude, and arctic deserts at the poles.

Global atmospheric circulation

Map of biomes from around the world. While the Hadley, Ferrel, and polar cells whose axes are oriented along parallels or latitudes are the major features of global heat transport, they do not act alone.

This describes the convection cells north and south of the equator.

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This and the corresponding effects of the Southern Oscillation result in long-term unseasonable temperatures and precipitation patterns in North and South America, Australia, and Southeast Africa, and the disruption of ocean currents. The air continues to rise up to the upper atmosphere, and the following then happens: The air separates and starts to move both north and south towards the poles. Air rises at the equator, but as it moves toward the pole at the top of the troposphere, it deflects to the right. This often occurs around the latitude of the UK which gives us our unsettled weather. The power of the Hadley system, considered as a heat engine, is estimated at tera watts. When the air reaches the edge of the atmosphere, it cannot go any further and so it travels to the north and south. However, the spin of the Earth induces an apparent motion to the right in the northern hemisphere and left in the southern hemisphere. This explains why air moves in a certain direction around an area of low pressure, and why trade winds exist. The Ferrell cell is between 30oN and 50o to 60oN.

As a result, temperature variations on land are greater than on water. In each hemisphere there are three cells Hadley cell, Ferrel cell and Polar cell in which air circulates through the entire depth of the troposphere.

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The ITCZ is pretty easy to identify from space. Image adapted from Sten Porse via Wikipedia. But every few years, the winters become unusually warm or unusually cold, or the frequency of hurricanes increases or decreases, and the pattern sets in for an indeterminate period. There are two consequences. Biomes So if we now look at the map of biomes and climates from around the world we can see the pattern: tropical rainforests near the equator, deserts at 30 degrees north and south, temperate rainforests between 40 and 50 degrees latitude, and arctic deserts at the poles. The Ferrel cell moves in the opposite direction to the two other cells Hadley cell and Polar cell and acts rather like a gear. Notice that in addition to the Congo and Amazon, Indonesia is pretty well forested too. There are some notable exceptions to this rule. The westerly winds, for example, blow from west to east. Are high pressure systems rotating clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere? There are 3 cells in each hemisphere, the Hadley cell, the Ferrel cell and the Polar cell. At the top of the troposphere, half moves toward the North Pole and half toward the South Pole.

This situation is not merely hypothetical, and it is one of the reasons that pollution is a global problem, rather than simply a local one. Standing on the ground, the wind would always be blowing towards the equator from the poles.

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For this reason, the mid-latitudes are sometimes known as the "zone of mixing. Notice that in addition to the Congo and Amazon, Indonesia is pretty well forested too. The warm air cools as it moves up in the atmosphere and the water vapor forms clouds.

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Atmospheric circulation