A Brief Air Circulation Explanation


By Alexis Newman

The circulation of air throughout our planet is often perceived as a fascinating, yet complex phenomenon. Air circulates within the troposphere layer of the atmosphere, where its motion is driven by imbalances in temperature and by forces in pressure gradients. The distribution of such circulation differs according to three cells that divide the Earth’s northern and southern hemispheres: the Hadley cell, the Ferrel cell, and the Polar cell.

The composition of the Hadley cell was defined by lawyer and amateur meteorologist, George Hadley, in the 18th century. Essentially, sunlight hits the equator perpendicularly, heating the air at the surface. This causes the air particles to expand and rise through the process of convection, diverging from the equator to high pressure regions 30 degrees north and south in latitude. The colder temperature within such high-pressure regions cools the air, which causes it to gain density and sink through…

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