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Earth Science for Kids

Weather - Wind

What is wind?

Wind is somewhat of a mystery. We can't see it, but we can feel it. So what exactly is wind?

Wind is the movement of large amounts of air. Even though we can't see air, we know that it is made up of molecules of different kinds of gasses, mostly nitrogen and oxygen. When lots of these molecules move, usually in one direction, we call this wind.

Where does wind come from?

Wind is caused by differences of pressure in the Earth's atmosphere. Air from a high pressure area will move towards an area of low pressure. High winds are caused when air moves between areas with large differences in air pressure.

On Earth, the main differences in air pressure are caused by differences in temperature. Cool air produces high air pressure and warm air produces low air pressure. Warm air wants to rise. When warm air rises, cool air will move in and replace the warm air, causing wind.

Another factor that affects the wind is the spinning of the Earth. This is called the Coriolis effect.

How is wind measured?

Meteorologists use two main measurements to describe wind: direction and speed.
Global Winds

The Earth has consistent wind patterns when looked at from a global scale. Global winds are created by both the spin of the Earth (Coriolis effect) and the differences in temperature between the equator and the polar areas. These winds are often grouped together as trade winds, easterlies, and westerlies.

Click on map to see larger view

Local Winds

Some winds are generated by changes in air pressure and temperatures locally. These winds may change direction as conditions change throughout the day.

One example of a local wind is the wind that blows on the ocean coast. During the day, the land heats up faster than the ocean. This causes a "sea breeze" that blows from the ocean into the land. During the night, the land will cool down faster than the ocean and the opposite will occur. Warm air over the water will rise and cool air from the land, called a "land breeze", will blow out to the ocean.

Land formations such as mountains, valleys, lakes, and deserts can also effect the local wind conditions.

Wind Power

Wind is a great source of renewable energy. Wind turbines and wind farms can generate electricity without burning fossil fuels or producing pollution. You can learn more about this on our wind power page.

Interesting Facts about Wind Activities

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Earth Science Subjects

Composition of the Earth
Plate Tectonics
Soil Science
The Water Cycle
Geology Glossary and Terms

Nutrient Cycles
Food Chain and Web
Carbon Cycle
Oxygen Cycle
Water Cycle
Nitrogen Cycle
Atmosphere and Weather
Dangerous Weather
Weather Forecasting
Weather Glossary and Terms

World Biomes
Biomes and Ecosystems
Tropical Rainforest
Temperate Forest
Taiga Forest
Coral Reef
Environmental Issues
Land Pollution
Air Pollution
Water Pollution
Ozone Layer
Global Warming

Renewable Energy Sources
Renewable Energy
Biomass Energy
Geothermal Energy
Solar Power
Wave and Tidal Energy
Wind Power

Ocean Waves and Currents
Ocean Tides
Ice Age
Forest Fires
Phases of the Moon

Science >> Earth Science for Kids

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