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12 terms

Winds and Ocean Currents

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wind
horizontally moving air; caused by uneven heating of the Earth's surface, which creates warm and cool air masses, resulting in differences in air pressure from place to place; moves from high pressure area to low pressure area, like when deflating a balloon
prevailing wind
a wind that usually blows from one direction (west to east, for example)
prevailing westerlies
winds that occur between 30° and 60° in both hemispheres; blow from west to the east; blow towards the poles; global winds
prevailing easterlies
winds that occur between 60° and 90° in both hemispheres; blow from east to west; blow away from the poles; global winds
trade winds
winds that occur between 30° N and 30° S; blow from east to west; blow continuously toward the Equator; global winds
local wind
moves across small distances close to Earth's surface; unpredictable; changes frequently with air pressure fluctuation (examples include: sea breeze, land breeze, Chinook, Santa Ana, etc)
global wind
moves great distances over the globe; predictable and stable; also called atmospheric circulations (examples include: Polar Easterlies, Prevailing Westerlies, and Trade Winds)
jet stream
A strong wind found 6-9 miles up in the troposphere. Can reach speeds of ~ 50-200 mph. Steer the movement of surface air masses and weather systems. Above North America, this wind moves weather from west to east. It can change locations depending on global conditions.
current
a horizontal movement of water, such as the Gulf Stream off the east coast of North America, or air, such as the jet stream
Gulf Stream
a warm swift current in the Atlantic Ocean that flows from the Gulf of Mexico along the eastern coast of the United States and then northeast toward Europe
El Nino
The unusual warming of the surface waters of the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. It causes changes in wind patterns that have major effects on weather all across the globe
La Nina
A widespread cooling of the surface waters of the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. It's the opposite of El Niño