Because of the Earth's rotation, the atmospheric circulation
patterns tend to be more east-west than north-south. Embedded in the
mid-latitude westerly winds we have large-scale weather systems that become active in order to
transport heat toward the poles. Such weather systems are the familiar
migrating low- and high-pressure systems and their associated cold and
warm fronts. Because of land-ocean temperature contrasts and obstacles
such as mountain ranges and ice sheets, the circulation system’s
planetary-scale atmospheric waves tend to be geographically secured by
continents and mountains although their amplitude can change with time. Thus, a particularly cold winter over North
America may be associated with a particularly warm winter elsewhere in
the hemisphere. Changes in various aspects of the climate system, such
as the size of ice sheets, the type and distribution of vegetation or
the temperature of the atmosphere or ocean will influence the
large-scale circulation features of the atmosphere and oceans.
Apr 19th, 2015
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