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13. Atmospheric Circulation.docx

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McMaster University
Environmental Science
Luc Bernier

ENVIR SCI 1A03 March 3, 2014 Atmospheric Circulation What is the General Circulation of the Atmosphere? • Climate is largely influenced by this • The cause of this is Earth’s unequal heating • Lower pressure at the poles, higher at the equator • Refers to the average air flow • Generally, warm air transferred from tropics to the poles and cool air descends to the equator/tropics and get heated again for circulation • What is the Once-Cell Model? o Assumption: Earth is uniformly covered by water, sun is always directly overhead the equator, earth does not rotate o Big ball of water, with a giant circulation cell o High surface pressure at poles, low at equator – as a result, wind rushing in uniformly from poles to equator o It is impossible for a Hadley cell to extend from the equator to the poles because of Coriolis force • What is the Three-Cell Model? o Allows earth to spin o Produces three cells o Alternating belts of pressure o Alternating belts of winds o Implies no land surface o Hadley cell, ferrel cell, polar cell o Imbalance of winds – air moving from zones of HP to LP o No friction at the surface associated to this model What is the Hadley Cell? • Associated to ITCZ • Intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) • Convergence because air is rushing to the area and associated to cloud formation o All of the air’s latent heat will lose its moisture and descend • Corresponds to the area from equator to the tropics (30degN/S) • Depends on position of ITCZ • Changes of position of ITCZ influ
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