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Features August 2019 Issue

How the Wind Blows

Below: The winds as measured on a typical August day, show distinct patterns or belts.

How the Wind Blows

Sorry, we can’t teach you to sing like Bette Midler (“Wind Beneath My Wings”), but we can explain the movement of the air through which you fly.

The root cause of wind is the unequal heating of the earth. We usually take it for granted that tropical areas are hot while polar areas are cold. But whether you’re in Greenland or Venezuela, the sunlight is the same. It’s the angle at which the sun’s rays hit the ground that makes the difference. Near the equator, the summer sun is at very high angles. But, in Greenland the summer sun never gets higher than about 30-40 degrees above the horizon, spreading the energy over a larger area, reducing heating of the ground and air.

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