Atmospheric Circulation

Atmospheric circulation is the large-scale movement of air, and the means (together with the smaller ocean circulation) by which thermal energy is distributed on the surface of the Earth.

The large-scale structure of the atmospheric circulation varies from year to year, but the basic climatological structure remains fairly constant. Individual weather systems – mid-latitude depressions, or tropical convective cells – occur "randomly", and it is accepted that weather cannot be predicted beyond a fairly short limit: perhaps a month in theory, or (currently) about ten days in practice (see Chaos theory and Butterfly effect). Nonetheless, as the climate is the average of these systems and patterns – where and when they tend to occur again and again – it is stable over longer periods of time.

As a rule, the "cells" of Earth's atmosphere shift polewards in warmer climates (e.g. interglacials compared to glacials), but remain largely constant even due to continental drift; they are, fundamentally, a property of the Earth's size, rotation rate, heating and atmospheric depth, all of which change little. Tectonic uplift can significantly alter major elements of it, however - for example the jet stream -, and plate tectonics shift ocean currents. In the extremely hot climates of the Mesozoic, indications of a third desert belt at the Equator has been found; it was perhaps caused by convection. But even then, the overall latitudinal pattern of Earth's climate was not much different from the one today.

Read more about Atmospheric CirculationLatitudinal Circulation Features, Longitudinal Circulation Features

Other articles related to "atmospheric circulation, circulation, atmospheric":

Atmospheric Circulation - Longitudinal Circulation Features - Walker Circulation - El Niño - Southern Oscillation
... In the La Niña case, the convective cell over the western Pacific strengthens inordinately, resulting in colder than normal winters in North America, and a more robust cyclone season in South-East Asia and Eastern Australia ... There is increased upwelling of deep cold ocean waters and more intense uprise of surface air near South America, resulting in increasing numbers of drought occurrence, although it is often argued that fishermen reap benefits from the more nutrient-filled eastern Pacific waters ...
LLAOATS - Atmospheric Circulation
... Air tends to stay in motion ... See Coriolis Effect, Jet Stream, and Atmospheric Pressure for more information ...
Earth - Composition and Structure - Atmosphere - Weather and Climate
... The result is atmospheric circulation that drives the weather and climate through redistribution of heat energy ... The primary atmospheric circulation bands consist of the trade winds in the equatorial region below 30° latitude and the westerlies in the mid-latitudes between 30° and 60° ... important factors in determining climate, particularly the thermohaline circulation that distributes heat energy from the equatorial oceans to the polar regions ...
Ozone Depletion - Research History - Antarctic Ozone Hole
... Susan Solomon, an atmospheric chemist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), proposed that chemical reactions on polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs) in the cold Antarctic stratosphere ... in solar UV radiation or to changes in atmospheric circulation patterns, were also tested and shown to be untenable ... The hole in the Earth’s ozone layer over the South Pole has affected atmospheric circulation in the Southern Hemisphere all the way to the equator ...
Examples and Applications of Convection - Atmospheric Circulation
... Atmospheric circulation is the large-scale movement of air, and the means by which thermal energy is distributed on the surface of the Earth, together with the much slower (lagged) ocean circulation system ... The large-scale structure of the atmospheric circulation varies from year to year, but the basic climatological structure remains fairly constant ... Latitudinal circulation is the consequence of the fact that incident solar radiation per unit area is highest at the heat equator, and decreases as the latitude increases, reaching its minimum at ...

Famous quotes containing the words circulation and/or atmospheric:

    We did not heed the sentries at the gate, nor did they us, and what under the sun they were placed there for, unless to hinder a free circulation of the air, was not apparent.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

    Nor has science sufficient humanity, so long as the naturalist overlooks the wonderful congruity which subsists between man and the world; of which he is lord, not because he is the most subtile inhabitant, but because he is its head and heart, and finds something of himself in every great and small thing, in every mountain stratum, in every new law of color, fact of astronomy, or atmospheric influence which observation or analysis lay open.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)