Atmospheric Circulation and Weather


Terms to Learn are in BOLD in the outline below:


Topic outline:

  1. Factors in uneven heating of earth's surface
    1. angle of incidence
    2. apparent atmospheric thickness
    3. albedo
  2. Basic atmospheric concepts
  3. Development of major wind belts
    1. Trade Winds, Westerlies, Polar Easterlies
    2. Coriolis effect
  4. Atmospheric stability
    1. stable air vs unstable air
  5. Air masses
  6. Warm vs cold fronts
  7. Formation of tornadoes
  8. Formation of hurricanes
  9. ENSO (El Nino-Southern Oscillation)


Interesting places to visit:

Comprehensive info on atmospheric processes:


Lots of info on tornadoes:


Tornado Project:


Comprehensive guide to hurricanes:


Lots of links for hurricane info:


When you are finished with this topic, you should be able to answer these questions:

  1. What latitudinal factors can affect the amount of solar radiation arriving at the surface of the earth?
  2. How does uneven heating of the earth's surface lead to development of large-scale wind belts?
  3. What is the Coriolis effect and what causes it?
  4. What causes air to be unstable?
  5. What are the differences between warm and cold fronts?
  6. How are tornadoes formed?
  7. Why does the greatest concentration of tornadoes occur in the central U.S.?
  8. What conditions are necessary for the formation of a hurricane?