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11.Winds and Pressure.docx

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McMaster University
Environmental Science
Luc Bernier

ENVIR SCI 1A03 February 24, 2014 Winds and Pressure What are Winds? • Air moving horizontally relative to the Earth’s surface • Caused by: unequal heating of Earth’s atmosphere, which leads to differences in pressures • Differences in pressure drive winds • Pressure gradient: difference in pressure between regions • One is colder and has lower pressure, one is warm and has higher pressure: net movement towards low pressure • High temp to low temp How is Pressure mapped? • Constant height: plot variations in air pressure on a constant elevation o Aka sea-level temperature o On maps: isobars connect points of equal pressure o Air pressures need to be adjusted for differences in altitude – need to calculate the actual pressure at sea-level to compare equal things o Isobars are universal o Rule is approximately add 10 hPa per 10 m but on a hot day, the pressure will be slightly lower because • What are Constant Height Maps? o Lines of isobars: bend and turnaround areas of High (H) and Low (L) Pressure o Maps are smoothed to account for potential errors and altitude adjustments • Constant height charts can be used to show variations in pressure at any altitude • What are Constant Pressure Maps? o Show variations in altitude at constant pressure using average height of a certain pressure surface o Aka upper level charts, isobaric charts o With warmer air – high altitude, cold air – lower altitude for a certain
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