Wind is wonderful but how does it work? It’s one of those things you experience every day, but never really know where it comes from! This amazing invisible force is the air we breathe in motion, caused by the sun heating up the surface of the earth unevenly. This uneven heating of air is due to the different types of land and water across the planet which all heat up at various speeds. The difference between air and wind is that air doesn’t have speed and direction, but wind does!
What causes the wind to blow a certain speed and direction? As mentioned earlier, air heats up at an uneven rate across the planet. The air that has been heated up weighs less than cold air and starts to rise; the space it leaves is then occupied by cold air rushing in to replace it. This is the movement that causes wind to blow!
Wind can come in different forms, some of which we can take a look at below:
- Downburst: This is when air is cooled to a low temperature by rain and then hits ground level, spreading gusts of wind in all directions.
- Derecho: These are widespread and lengthy windstorms that usually come with severe thunderstorms. They’re quite dangerous and can cause much damage to surrounding areas and property.
- Monsoon: A monsoon is a seasonal wind that is particularly common in parts of Asia and is the result of air pressure changes over land and sea. For example, in summer there is high pressure over the Indian Ocean and a low pressure over Asia – the high pressure moves from the ocean into Asia and brings the high pressure, moisture-heavy air with it, causing a monsoon.
Other types of wind include gust fronts and jet streams, which you can read about here.
Did you know that you can build a device that will tell you exactly what direction the wind is coming from? That’s right, a wind vane is a special instrument used to gauge wind direction, no matter where it is coming from. Check out the video below for instructions on how to build your very own wind vane: