Earth 31

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What about that Wind!

Wind is the flow of air on a large scale – and smaller (local) scale also. Wind consists of the bulk movement of air.

Meteorologists describe wind using its strength, speed and direction. Short bursts of wind are often called gusts. Gusts last from a few seconds up to a minute. Stronger winds are called squalls. Squalls last for over a minute. The longest duration winds have a variety of names depending on average strengths. Some of these descriptions are commonly used during news and weather reports. These include breeze, gale, storm, and hurricane.

Several important expressions describe global winds and their effect. Starting from the equator and moving toward the poles, these expressions are: doldrums, trade winds, westerlies, and polar easterlies. Air flowing from the poles does not flow in a straight line. Further, each hemisphere has three “looping” patterns – called convection cells. Something interesting about comparing these convection cells between the two hemispheres – they are somewhat of mirror images to each other. The  six major convection cells result in “prevailing winds.”


Day 1 – Introduction
Day 2 – Virtual Textbook


2:39 What Is Wind and What Causes It?

4:11 How do tornadoes form? – James Spann

3:05 The Coriolis Effect


Compare Contrast and Debate


Jet streams are debated as one of the less-well understood aspects of climate change. Scientists want to better understand how the jet stream might be changing as the planet warms. Scientists want to identify whether the jet stream will get stronger or weaker. Any changes might have significant implications. Overall weather patterns might change. Crop harvests might be impacted. And sea level changes might happen also.

  • Position A: The jet streams have been changing for thousands of years. While modern-day observations of these changes are interesting, there is no need for alarm.
  • Position B: Because there is likely a connection between Earth’s climate and changing jet stream patterns, there is an urgent need to better understand the connection.

Instructor Resources

Standard Daily Material
  • Day 1 – Standard material – introduction day
  • Day 2 – Standard material – reading day
  • Day 3 – Standard material – make a presentation
  • Day 4 – Standard material – give a presentation
  • Extra! – Enrichment and remediation options
Other Topic Specific Resources

Special Notes and Notices

Instructor Emphasis:

  • Science & Engineering Practice: Develop and use models.
  • Cross-Cutting Concept: Cause and Effect: Mechanisms and explanations.

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