Shop Windows to the Universe

Please help support Windows to the Universe, and our activities to help Earth and space science teachers, with a tax-exempt donation today!
The power of wind can be used to create electricity. That's what these wind turbines are doing.
Energy Information Administration

Wind

Wind is moving air. Warm air rises, and cool air comes in to take its place. This movement creates different pressures in the atmosphere which creates the winds around the globe. Since the Earth spins, the winds try to move to the right in the Northern Hemisphere, and to the left in the Southern Hemisphere. This is called the Coriolis Effect .

The prevailing wind is a type of wind that usually blows in a region. There are a series of bands around the globe that have steadily blowing prevailing winds near the surface. Different prevailing winds have different names. Trade winds are steady and flow towards the equator. Jet streams are narrow zones of very strong winds in the upper troposphere.

Winds move at different speeds and have different names based on the Beaufort Scale. This scale is shown by numbers from 0 to 12 which goes from calm air to breezes to strong winds or gales . Winds are also grouped by their direction. Easterly winds blow from east to west, while westerly winds blow from west to east.

The fastest recorded wind speed, 230 miles per hour (370 kilometers per hour), was recorded in New Hampshire in 1934, although winds are faster in tornadoes. The windiest place in the world is in Antarctica.

Last modified June 11, 2010 by Becca Hatheway.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

The Fall 2009 issue of The Earth Scientist, which includes articles on student research into building design for earthquakes and a classroom lab on the composition of the Earth’s ancient atmosphere, is available in our online store.

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Cool It! Game

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Type of Wind: Chinook or Foehn

There are several different types of wind. One type is the foehn wind. This type of wind is a characteristic of mountainous areas such as the Rocky Mountains and the Alps. The wind off of the Rocky Mountains...more

Type of Wind: Northeaster

Northeasters, also known as nor’easters, are cyclonic, cold winds that develop in the mid-latitudes. They can bring heavy snow or sleet and gale force winds of 40-55 mph (64.5-88.7 kph). This type of wind...more

Dust-on-Snow: Spring Winds Can Bring More Snowmelt

Scientists are learning about how dust from wind storms is affecting the snow pack in Colorado. When the winds are right and the desert is dry, dust blows to the east from U.S. Southwest. When this happens,...more

Weather Balloons

Weather balloons are used to carry weather instruments that measure temperature, pressure, humidity, and winds in the atmosphere. The balloons are made of rubber and weigh up to one kilogram (2.2 pounds)....more

Anemometer

An anemometer is a weather instrument used to measure the wind (it can also be called a wind gauge). Anemometers can measure wind speed, wind direction, and other information like the largest gust of wind...more

Watch the Sky

Ever looked up in the sky on a lazy Sunday afternoon and just watched the clouds? Well, here's a project where you can do just that and learn something too! This project works best if you do it with a...more

The Eye of a Hurricane

At the center of a fierce tropical storm, there is a small area where the weather is calm, the sky is clear, and the winds are just light breezes. This area is called the eye of the storm. As a hurricane...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF