2 minute read

Atmospheric Circulation

Other Violent Wind Systems

A number of air movements are not large enough to be described as forms of global circulation although they do cover extensive regions of the planet. Monsoons, for example, are heavy rain systems that sweep across the Indian subcontinent for about six months of each year. They are caused by a massive movement of air from Siberia to Africa by way of India and back again.

During the winter, cold, dry air from central Asia sweeps over India, out across the Indian Ocean, and into Africa. Relatively little moisture is transported out of Siberia during this time of the year. As summer approaches, however, the Asian land mass warms up, low pressures develop, and the winter air movement pattern is reversed. Winds blow out of Africa, across the Indian Ocean and the Indian peninsula, and back into Siberia. These winds pick up moisture from the ocean and bring nearly constant rains—the monsoons—to India for about six months.



Ahrens, C. David, Rachel Alvelais, and Nina Horne. Essentials of Meteorology: An Invitation to the Atmosphere. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole, 2000.

Ahrens, C. Donald. Meteorology Today. 2nd ed. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Company, 1985.

Allen, Oliver E., and the Editors of Time-Life Books. Planet Earth: Atmosphere. Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983.

Eagleman, Joe R. Meteorology: The Atmosphere in Action. 2nd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1985.

Hamblin, W.K., and Christiansen, E.H. Earth's Dynamic Systems. 9th ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2001.

Hodgson, Michael, and Devin Wick. Basic Essentials: Weather Forecasting. 2nd ed. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press, 1999.

Houghton, John. The Physics of Atmospheres. 3rd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

James, I. N. Introduction to Circulating Atmospheres. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Lorenz, Edward N. The Nature and Theory of the General Circulation of the Atmosphere. Geneva: World Meteorological Organization, 1967.

Lutgens, Frederick K., Edward J. Tarbuck, and Dennis Tasa. The Atmosphere: An Intorduction to Meteorology. 8th ed. New York: Prentice-Hall, 2000.

Wagner, A. James, "Persistent Circulation Patterns." Weather-wise (February 1989): 18-21.

David E. Newton


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


—The transfer of heat by means of a moving fluid.

Coriolis effect

—An apparent force experienced by any object that is moving across the face of a rotating body.


—A region of the equatorial ocean where winds are light and unpredictable.

Horse latitudes

—A region of the oceans around 30° latitude where winds are light and unpredictable.

Jet stream

—A rapidly moving band of air in the upper atmosphere.

Polar front

—A relatively permanent front formed at the junction of the Ferrell and polar cells.

Trade winds

—Relatively constant wind patterns that blow toward the equator at about 30° latitude.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: A-series and B-series to Ballistic Missiles - Categories Of Ballistic MissileAtmospheric Circulation - An Idealized Model Of Atmospheric Circulation, Observed Patterns Of Circulation, Patterns Of Surface Pressure, The Jet Streams