What is wind? How is wind formed?

Windsurfing
Wind: how is it formed?

Wind is the result of uneven heating of the Earth's surface. But how does air masses cause both light and strong breezes?

It is quite easy to understand how wind is formed.

The atmosphere is comprised of four layers: troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, and thermosphere. They hover more than 100 kilometers above the crust of the Earth.

In this aerial region, there are several gases flowing around, all carefully balanced, and every single one of them serving a purpose.

For example, nitrogen gives us the blue tone of our skies.

Wind is the result of differences in pressure in the atmosphere and flows between air masses.

It moves from high-pressure to low-pressure regions, in an attempt to even out all different barometric pressures.

Physical forces such as the rotation of the Earth, the Coriolis effect, the geomorphology of the planet's surface, solar energy, and gravity are also responsible for the distribution of multiple wind systems all over the globe.

Global surface winds: polar easterlies, westerlies and trade winds

Types of Wind

Across the planet, several wind patterns blow in different directions depending on the latitude.

The main types of winds are the trade winds, the roaring forties, the polar easterlies, the westerlies, the doldrums, and the horse latitudes.

When it comes to duration, there are three types of wind - strong and short winds (gusts), strong intermediate winds (termed squalls), and strong and long-lasting winds (typhoons, hurricanes, storms, gales, or breezes).

The official measurement format for grading the power of wind is the knot. One knot equals 1.15078 miles per hour or 1.852 kilometers per hour.

If you need to measure wind speed accurately, you should use a digital anemometer.

However, it is also possible to empirically assess wind force by observing conditions at sea - it's the Beaufort Wind Force Scale.

Global mean wind speed: wind blows differently on planet Earth

The strongest wind gust ever documented was detected at the automatic weather station of Barrow Island, Australia, on April 10, 1996.

The local anemometer was mounted 10 meters above sea level and recorded 408 km/h (220 knots, 253 mph).

The windiest spot in the world is Cape Farewell, in Greenland.

Planes only flew over this Arctic spot for the first time in 2008. Previously, strong winds had prevented such a flight.

Wind can blow anywhere, anytime, and in any direction. It is also responsible for the creation of swell and waves.

When the wind blows over the ocean's surface, it creates a more or less vast fetch, sometimes located thousands of miles away from continental shores.

The wind fetch is home to ripples of various sizes that start grouping and forming swells. These wave trains travel long distances before reaching the coastline.

Discover the windiest places on Planet Earth.

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