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Winds along the west coast of South America blow from south to north.
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Image courtesy of Ron Woods.

Winds in the Southeast Pacific

The winds in the Southeast Pacific mainly blow from south to north. They affect the weather and climate in the region. They also affect the climate in other places around the world.

Air near the equator is very hot. Hot air rises. It forms clouds which make rain. That is why there are rainforests near the equator. Later, the air falls back down towards the ground. It does that around 30° South latitude. Next the air flows back north along the ground towards the equator. Those winds are called the trade winds. The spin of the Earth makes the trade winds turn a bit towards the west. The high "wall" of the Andes Mountains helps to steer the winds along the coast. These winds blow pretty hard most of the time.

The air in the trade winds is dry. The dry winds help create the Atacama Desert in Chile. It is one of the driest places on Earth. The strong winds also help stir up the ocean. They also help bring cold water from deep in the ocean to the surface. The atmosphere and the ocean in this area are connected in many ways. The strong winds also carry aerosol particles from industries in South America out to sea. The aerosol particles change how clouds form in the area.

The winds in the Southeast Pacific also affect the weather and climate in other parts of the world. These winds are a big part of the cause of El Niño and La Niña.

Last modified October 27, 2008 by Randy Russell.

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