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What is Wind?

Wind is air in motion. It is produced by the uneven heating of the earth’s surface by the sun. Since the earth’s surface is made of various land and water formations, it absorbs the sun’s radiation unevenly. Two factors are necessary to specify wind: speed and direction.

What causes the wind to blow?

As the sun warms the Earth's surface, the atmosphere warms too. Some parts of the Earth receive direct rays from the sun all year and are always warm. Other places receive indirect rays, so the climate is colder. Warm air, which weighs less than cold air, rises. Then cool air moves in and replaces the rising warm air. This movement of air is what makes the wind blow.

What is a derecho?

A derecho is a widespread and long-lived windstorm that is associated with a fast-moving band of severe thunderstorms. They can produce significant damage to property and pose a serious threat life, primarily by downburst winds. To be classified as a derecho, the path length of the storm has to be at least 280 miles long. Widths may vary from 50-300 miles. Derechos are usually not associated with a cold front, but a stationary front. They occur mostly in July, but can occur at anytime during the spring and summer.

What is the jet stream?

The jet stream is a fast flowing, river of air found in the atmosphere at around 12 km above the surface of the Earth just under the tropopause. They form at the boundaries of adjacent air masses with significant differences in temperature, such as of the polar region and the warmer air to the south. Because of the effect of the Earth's rotation the streams flow west to east, propagating in a serpentine or wave-like manner at lower speeds than that of the actual wind within the flow.

What are the global wind patterns?

The equator receives the Sun's direct rays. Here, air is heated and rises, leaving low pressure areas behind. Moving to about thirty degrees north and south of the equator, the warm air from the equator begins to cool and sink. Between thirty degrees latitude and the equator, most of the cooling sinking air moves back to the equator. The rest of the air flows toward the poles.

What are the trade winds?

The trade winds are just air movements toward the equator. They are warm, steady breezes that blow almost continuously. The Coriolis Effect makes the trade winds appear to be curving to the west, whether they are traveling to the equator from the south or north.

How is wind helpful to Earth?

Wind is the fastest growing source of electricity in the world. It's often one of the least expensive forms of renewable power available. Some experts say it can sometimes be the cheapest form of any kind of power. Generating power from the wind leaves no dangerous waste products behind. Best of all, its supply is unlimited.

What is a land breeze?

A land breeze occurs at night when the land cools faster than the sea. In this case, it is air above the warmer surface water that is heated and rises, pulling in air from the cooler land surface.

What is a sea breeze?

On a warm summer day along the coast, this differential heating of land and sea leads to the development of local winds called sea breezes. As air above the land surface is heated by radiation from the Sun, it expands and begins to rise, being lighter than the surrounding air. To replace the rising air, cooler air is drawn in from above the surface of the sea. This is the sea breeze, and can offer a pleasant cooling influence on hot summer afternoons.

How do windmills work?

Windmills work because they slow down the speed of the wind. The wind flows over the airfoil shaped blades causing lift, like the effect on airplane wings, causing them to turn. The blades are connected to a drive shaft that turns an electric generator to produce electricity.

What are some different types of wind names?

Many local wind systems have their own names. Here's a few!
chinook-(easterly off the Rocky Mountains)
santa ana-(easterly towards Southern California )
-(southerly from North Africa to southern Europe)

mistral-(northwesterly from central France to Mediterranean)
marin-(south-easterly from Mediterranean to France)
bora-(northeasterly from eastern Europe to Italy)
gregale-(northeasterly from Greece)
etesian-(northwesterly from Greece)
libeccio-(southwesterly towards Italy)