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Global Precipitation Distribution's Relation to Wind & Pressure Patterns

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  • 0:00 Factors that Affect…
  • 0:56 Wind Currents & Changes
  • 2:02 Pressure & Changes
  • 2:48 When They Run Amok
  • 3:46 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

The water cycle of evaporation, condensation, and precipitation isn't the only thing that determines if it will rain or not. In this lesson, we'll look at the effects of wind and pressure patterns on rainfall around the world.

Factors that Affect Precipitation

Chances are you're pretty familiar with the water cycle. Water is evaporated from streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans; undergoes condensation in the clouds; and finally falls to the Earth as precipitation. In fact, you may even be familiar with the impact of geography on this cycle. After all, the rain shadow created by high mountains can block the other side of hilly terrain from getting any rain at all, while the side closest to the water gets plenty of precipitation. This helps to contribute to deserts in places like Africa, Arabia, and South America. However, did you know that there are global phenomena at work as well? In this lesson, we'll look at the impact of wind currents and pressure changes on precipitation. Additionally, we'll look at the results of what happens to precipitation when wind currents and pressure systems cooperate to create a perfect storm.

Wind Currents and Changes

Everyone has felt a windy day before. If you've been to the beach, you've probably noticed how storms blow in and blow out, with heavy wind on either side of the system. However, what you're feeling are only the edges of the wind. Hundreds of feet up is where the real action happens. Here, massive wind currents blow weather systems around the world. Amazingly, some of these wind systems are pretty regular. For example, we know that the Gulf Stream will blow up from the Caribbean, across the Eastern coast of North America, then over past Iceland on its way to the British Isles. This is one of the reasons that, despite its relatively high latitude, Britain is so relatively warm. However, this is not the only weather system affected by changes in the wind. The monsoons of South Asia blow regularly in one direction for half the year, then promptly change and blow in almost the exact opposite direction. Not only does this permit for regular trade since ancient times, but also it means that these regions experience a wet and a dry season, corresponding with how the wind is blowing.

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