McKnight's Physical Geography 11e

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1 Chapter 2 Lecture McKnight's Physical Geography 11e Lectures Chapter 5 Atmospheric Pressure and Wind Michael Commons Ohio Northern University

2 Atmospheric Pressure and Wind The Nature of Atmospheric Pressure The Nature of Wind Cyclones and Anticyclones The General Circulation of the Atmosphere Modifications of the General Circulation Localized Wind Systems El Niño-Southern Oscillation Other Multiyear Atmospheric and Oceanic Cycles

3 The Impact of Pressure and Wind on the Landscape Atmospheric pressure indirectly affects the landscape. Changes manifest primarily by changes in wind and temperature. Wind has a visible component to its activity. Severe storm winds can drastically affect the landscape.

4 The Nature of Atmospheric Pressure Gas molecules are continuously in motion. Force exerted by gas molecules is called atmospheric pressure. Force is exerted on every surface the gas touches. Average pressure at sea level is mb (approx. 14 pounds per square inch.)

5 The Nature of Atmospheric Pressure Factors influencing atmospheric pressure Density at higher density, particles are closer and collide more frequently, increasing pressure Temperature warmer particles move faster and collide more frequently, increasing pressure Remember ideal gas law! P = ρrt

6 The Nature of Atmospheric Pressure Dynamic and thermodynamic influences on air pressure are as follows: Strongly descending air, a dynamic high Very cold surface conditions, a thermal high Strongly ascending air, a dynamic low Very warm surface conditions, a thermal low Dynamic influences work in tandem with influences from density to affect air pressure. All of these influences come back to the original influence of temperature and are related through the ideal gas law.

7 The Nature of Pressure Mapping pressure with isobars Pressure measured with a barometer Typical units are millibars or inches of mercury Contour pressure values reduced to sea level Shows highs and lows, ridges and troughs Mapping of highs and lows and the change in pressure with altitude

8 The Nature of Wind Origination of wind Uneven heating of Earth s surface creates temperature and pressure gradients Direction of wind results from pressure gradient Winds blow from high pressure to low pressure

9 The Nature of Wind Forces that govern the wind Pressure gradient force Characterized by wind moving from high to low pressure, always Winds blow at right angles to isobars Coriolis force Turns wind to the right in the Northern Hemisphere; left in Southern Hemisphere Only affects wind direction, not speed; though faster winds turn more Friction Wind is slowed by Earth s surface due to friction; does not affect upper levels

10 The Nature of Wind Force balances Geostrophic balance Balance between pressure gradient force and Coriolis Winds blow parallel to isobars Frictional balance Winds blow slightly towards low pressure and slightly away from high pressure Winds slowed by friction weaken Coriolis, so pressure gradient force is stronger and turns the winds

11 The Nature of Wind Wind speed Tight pressure gradients (isobars close together) indicate faster wind speeds Wind speeds are gentle on average

12 Cyclones and Anticyclones Wind directions around cyclones and anticyclones dictated by force balances described previously Differing Coriolis force causes winds to blow opposite in each hemisphere

13 Cyclones and Anticyclones Vertical motions Surface convergence and low pressure indicate rising motion. Surface divergence and high pressure indicate sinking motion. Rising motion results in clouds and storms. Sinking motion results in sunny skies.

14 The General Circulation of the Atmosphere Atmosphere in constant motion Major semipermanent conditions of wind and pressure general circulation Principal mechanism for longitudinal and latitudinal heat transfer Second only to insolation as a determination for global climate

15 The General Circulation of the Atmosphere Simple example a nonrotating Earth Strong solar heating at equator Little heating at poles Thermal low pressure forms over equator Thermal high forms over poles Ascending air over equator Descending air over poles Winds blow equatorward at surface; poleward aloft

16 The General Circulation of the Atmosphere Observed general circulation Addition of Earth s rotation increases complexity of circulation One semipermanent convective cell near the equator Hadley cells Three latitudinal wind belts per hemisphere

17 The General Circulation of the Atmosphere Seasonal differences in the general circulation

18 The General Circulation of the Atmosphere Components of the general circulation Subtropical highs Persistent zones of high pressure near 30 latitude in both hemispheres Result from descending air in Hadley cells Subsidence is common over these regions Regions of world s major deserts No wind, horse latitudes

19 The General Circulation of the Atmosphere Components of the general circulation (cont.) Trade winds Diverge from subtropical highs Exist between 25 N and 25 S latitude Easterly winds; southeasterly in Southern Hemisphere, northeasterly in Northern Hemisphere Most reliable of winds Winds of commerce

20 The General Circulation of the Atmosphere Components of the general circulation (cont.) Trade winds (cont.) Heavily laden with moisture Do not produce rain unless forced to rise If they rise, they produce tremendous precipitation and storm conditions

21 The General Circulation of the Atmosphere Components of the general circulation (cont.) Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) Region of convergence of the trade winds Constant rising motion and storminess in this region Position seasonally shifts (more over land than water) Doldrums

22 The General Circulation of the Atmosphere

23 The General Circulation of the Atmosphere Components of the general circulation (cont.) Westerlies Form on poleward sides of subtropical highs Wind system of the midlatitudes Two cores of high winds jet streams Rossby waves

24 The General Circulation of the Atmosphere Components of the general circulation (cont.) Polar highs Thermal highs that develop over poles due to extensive cold conditions Winds are anticyclonic; strong subsidence Arctic desert Polar easterlies Regions north of 60 N and south of 60 S Winds blow from east Cold and dry

25 The General Circulation of the Atmosphere Components of the general circulation (cont.) Polar front Low pressure area between polar easterlies and westerlies Air mass conflict between warm subtropics and cold polar air Rising motion and precipitation Polar jet stream position typically coincident with the polar front

26 The General Circulation of the Atmosphere The seven components of the general circulation

27 The General Circulation of the Atmosphere

28 The General Circulation of the Atmosphere Vertical wind patterns of the general circulation Most dramatic differences in surface and aloft winds is in tropics Antitrade winds

29 Modifications to the General Circulation Seasonal modifications Seven general circulation components shift seasonally. Components shift northward during Northern Hemisphere summer. Components shift southward during Southern Hemisphere summer.

30 Modifications to the General Circulation Monsoons Seasonal wind shift of up to 180 Winds onshore during summer Winds offshore during winter Develop due to shifts in positions of ITCZ and unequal heating of land and water

31 Modifications to the General Circulation Major monsoon systems Minor monsoon systems

32 Localized Wind Systems Sea breezes Water heats more slowly than land during the day Thermal low over land; thermal high over sea Wind blows from sea to land Land breezes At night, land cools faster Thermal high over land; thermal low over sea Wind blows from land to sea

33 Localized Wind Systems Valley breeze Mountain top during the day heats faster than valley, creating a thermal low at mountain top Upslope winds out of valley Mountain breeze Mountain top cools faster at night, creating thermal high at mountain top Winds blow from mountain to valley, downslope

34 El Niño-Southern Oscillation Warming of waters in the eastern equatorial Pacific Associated with numerous changes in weather patterns worldwide Typically occurs on time scales of 3 to 7 years for about 18 months

35 El Niño-Southern Oscillation Circulation patterns Walker circulation (see figure)

36 El Niño-Southern Oscillation Patterns associated with El Niño ENSO - Southern Oscillation La Niña opposite of El Niño Causes of El Niño Atmosphere changes first or ocean changes first? Weather effects of El Niño

37 Other Multiyear Atmospheric and Oceanic Cycles Pacific Secadal Oscillation (PDO see figure) North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) Arctic Oscillation (AO)

38 Summary Atmospheric pressure and wind affect the geographic landscape in several ways. Atmospheric pressure is the force exerted by air molecules on all objects the air is in contact with. Pressure is influenced by temperature, density, and dynamic. Isobars show areas of high pressure and low pressure. Vertical and horizontal atmospheric motions are called wind. Wind is affected by many forces.

39 Summary Geostrophic balance represents a balance between the Coriolis force and the pressure gradient force. Friction slows the wind and turns it toward lower pressure. Wind patterns around high and low pressure systems are anticyclonic and cyclonic, respectively. Areas of divergence at the surface are associated with sinking motion, while convergence at the surface with rising motion. Close isobar spacing indicates faster winds.

40 Summary Winds increase rapidly with height; pressure decreases rapidly with height. The global atmospheric circulation is called the general circulation. There are seven components to the general circulation. Each component has associated weather conditions. Seasonal modifications to the general circulation exist, including monsoons. Localized wind systems affect wind direction locally on diurnal time scales.

41 Summary El Niño is a warming of eastern equatorial Pacific water and subsequent switching of the high and low air pressure patterns. El Niño is associated with varied weather patterns in different locations globally. Other examples of teleconnections include the PDO and the NAO/AO.

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