Unit 7

Atmospheric Circulations

PHYS-255 Meteorology
UW-Stout Physics Department


  1. List the scales of atmospheric motion categorized according to size and lifespan, and give examples of each.
  2. Describe how sea and land breezes are produced.
  3. Describe how mountain and valley breezes are produced.
  4. Give examples of other local wind systems.
  5. Describe the idealized pattern of global circulation as proposed by George Hadley.
  6. Describe the idealized three-cell model of global circulation.
  7. Describe a jet stream and discuss how the U.S. weather is influenced by the position of the jet stream.
  8. Describe the relationship between the Southern Oscillation and a major El Nino event. Discuss how recent El Nino events have adversely affected U.S. weather.


Scales of Atmospheric Motion


Local Wind Systems


Sea Breeze

Land Breeze


Valley Breeze

Mountain Breeze


Global Circulation


Three Cell Model (a)

Three Cell Model (b)




Jet Stream


El Nino and the Southern Oscillation


Review Questions

1. Describe the various scales of motion, and give an example of each.
3. Explain how thermal circulation develops.
4. Why does a sea breeze blow from sea to land and a land breeze from land to sea?
6. You are fly fishing in a mountain stream during the early morning. Would you expect the wind to be blowing upstream or downstream? Explain.
7. Which wind will most likely produce clouds: a valley breeze or a mountain breeze? Why?
12. Draw a large circle. Now, place the major surface pressure and wind belts of the world at the appropriate latitudes.
13. According to Fig. 7.14 (p.173), most of the United States is located in what wind belt?