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Meteorology (Weather)/Coriolis Effect


Hello Donald

Will you please explain the Coriolis Effect to me because I do not have a clue.  I've read two textbook explanations of it as well as checked Google.

I know the what and why of the Hadley and Ferrell cells but not why we have trade winds and westerlies.  It seems to me that the air must move about even with the earth's surface, otherwise we would have a constant easterly wind at about 1,000 miles per hour.  From our customary view from space, looking down on the USA, the land moves from left to right (sun rises in the east).  Should not the Hadley and Ferrell cells, which we see on edge from this view, move with it?

As far as the rocket launch analogy, I understand that the observer on land in the northern hemisphere sees a rocket launched  southward from the north pole veer west because the earth is rotating left to right but the rocket, when launched, was not rotating with the earth.  The observer in space would see the rocket as heading due south.

Similarly an observer in space watching a rocket launched north from the equator would see it veer the the right (east) because the rocket, when launched, was rotating with the earth.  The observer on the ground however would see its trajectory as due north.

That's about all I know.  I do not understand why or how winds from the cells "apparently" shift right or left.



Hi Peter

Here's some good info on the Coriolis Effect that should answer your questions:

Regarding the Hadley and Ferrel cells:

As to the views from rockets in space, I'll leave that to others.

Hope the info above helps!!  

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Donald Rosenfeld


Any questions (except private) answered from the 1st grade level on up pertaining to any aspect of Weather. I am a 20 year member of the American Meteorological society and a long time forecaster of eastern United States snow storms and Hurricanes.

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