DMPQ-. Discuss the forces affecting velocity and direction of wind.

The wind blows from high pressure to low pressure. The wind at the surface experiences friction. In addition, rotation of the earth also affects the wind movement. The force exerted by the rotation of the earth is known as the Coriolis force. Thus, the horizontal winds near the earth surface respond to the combined effect of three forces – the pressure gradient force, the frictional force and the Coriolis force. In addition, the gravitational force acts downward.

Pressure Gradient Force

The differences in atmospheric pressure produces a force. The rate of change of pressure with respect to distance is the pressure gradient. The pressure gradient is strong where the isobars are close to each other and is weak where the isobars are apart.

Frictional Force

It affects the speed of the wind. It is greatest at the surface and its influence generally extends upto an elevation of 1 – 3 km. Over the sea surface the friction is minimal.

Coriolis Force

The rotation of the earth about its axis affects the direction of the wind. This force is called the Coriolis force after the French physicist who described it in 1844. It deflects the wind to the right direction in the northern hemisphere and to the left in the southern hemisphere. The deflection is more when the wind  velocity is high. The Coriolis force is directly proportional to the angle of latitude. It is maximum at the poles and is absent at the equator.

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