Mo-Momentum: Why the Wind Doth Blow

rough winds do shake the darling buds of May
Inspired by Belette’s attempt to explain why the wind blows, and emboldened by my own far more tenuous grasp of geophysical fluid dynamics, I decided to try for a simplification:

1) Sunlight heats the ground more near the equator than near the poles, so warm air rises in the tropics and descends more polewards.

2) The rising air is replaced by air flowing near the ground towards the equator.

3) Air stationary with respect to the ground at the poles is also stationary with respect to center of the Earth, but air stationary with respect to the ground at the equator is moving about 1000 mi/hr with respect to the center of the Earth (because the Earth rotates).

4) Poleward moving air is slowed down by friction while equatorward moving air is accelerated by friction.

5) Wind is what results before the air matches velocity with its current location.

Naturally this leaves out a lot of important dynamical details, but your challenge, should you decide to accept, is to do better in five reasonable sized sentences. For more details, check out The Ceaseless Wind by John A. Dutton (republished by Dover as Dynamics of Atmospheric Motion).


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