Daily Bulletin


The Conversation

  • Written by Andrew B. Watkins, Manager of Climate Prediction Services, Australian Bureau of Meteorology

This is an article from Curious Kids, a series for children. The Conversation is asking kids to send in questions they’d like an expert to answer. All questions are welcome – serious, weird or wacky!

What causes windy weather? – Jake, aged 8, Melbourne.

Thank you for your great question, Jake.

Wind is just moving air, and air is a collection of different gases. It’s mostly one type of gas, called nitrogen, but also lots of others, including oxygen – which we need to live.

When air is under pressure, it starts to move – and that causes wind. I’ll explain what I mean by “under pressure”.

Imagine you are blowing up a balloon. As you blow more air into the balloon, the pressure builds inside. If the pressure gets too great, the balloon could pop because the air has nowhere to move.

Just like the balloon, we don’t like to be under pressure, either. Think of when your brother or sister or slightly annoying cousin gives you a great big bear hug. You feel pressure because you’re getting squeezed. Sometimes that can be nice but when the squeezing gets too much, the best way to get comfortable again is to break free and run. It’s the same with air: when it’s under pressure, it tries to escape.

When the air inside a balloon is under pressure and you take your fingers off the neck part of it, the air rushes out – often with a bit of an embarrassing farty noise. Well, that air rushing out is wind. (And, let’s be honest, it’s why another name for a fart is “breaking wind”).

In the atmosphere, the same thing happens. When pressure builds up in one place, the air rushes to another place where there is less pressure.

But what is causing this pressure in the atmosphere?

Well, as the sun heats up the surface of the earth, some areas get warmer and others stay cooler. On the whole globe, for instance, the north and south poles are really cold. This is because sunbeams pass over the top, so not much sunlight actually hits the ground. Compare this to the equator, where temperatures are really warm, because the sunbeams are hitting it from directly above.

Read more: Curious Kids: why does rain only come from grey clouds?

As you may know, warm air rises - just like when you see hot steam coming out the top of your kettle or a cooking pot at home.

Curious Kids: What causes windy weather? When pressure builds up in one place, the air rushes to another place where there is less pressure. Mami Kempe / The Conversation, CC BY-ND

My old teacher used to say: “you don’t get something for nothing, Andrew!” What he meant was that if air goes up in one place, it must come down in another place. That other place will be where the air is not rising, and that’s normally where the cool areas are.

As this happens and the air comes down, it hits the ground and starts to build up. When that air piles up too much, that pile of air will collapse and spread out, just like air rushing out of a balloon.

That air will rush towards the area that doesn’t have a big mound of air built up, and that will usually be a warm place where the air is rising.

You can feel this happening at the beach in summer, where the sun heats up the sand more than the water. As heat builds up the air rises over the land and starts to fall over the ocean. Soon there is more air over the ocean than the land, and a breeze starts as that air pile collapses.

So, put simply: wind is just air moving from one place where there is high pressure to another place where there is low pressure (a smaller pile of air).

Often, that’s from where it is cooler to where it is hotter. And, thankfully, it rarely makes that farty sound.

Hello, curious kids! Have you got a question you’d like an expert to answer? Ask an adult to send your question to us. They can:

* Email your question to curiouskids@theconversation.edu.au * Tell us on Twitter

Curious Kids: What causes windy weather? CC BY-ND Please tell us your name, age, and which city you live in. You can send an audio recording of your question too, if you want. Send as many questions as you like! We won’t be able to answer every question but we will do our best.

Authors: Andrew B. Watkins, Manager of Climate Prediction Services, Australian Bureau of Meteorology

Read more http://theconversation.com/curious-kids-what-causes-windy-weather-92821

Writers Wanted

I studied 5,000 phone images: objects were more popular than people, but women took way more selfies

arrow_forward

Bad reactions to the COVID vaccine will be rare, but Australians deserve a proper compensation scheme

arrow_forward

Pacific tourism is desperate for a vaccine and travel freedoms, but the industry must learn from this crisis

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Prime Minister Interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB

BEN FORDHAM: Scott Morrison, good morning to you.    PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, Ben. How are you?    FORDHAM: Good. How many days have you got to go?   PRIME MINISTER: I've got another we...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Business News

Cybersecurity data means nothing to business leaders without context

Top business leaders are starting to realise the widespread impact a cyberattack can have on a business. Unfortunately, according to a study by Forrester Consulting commissioned by Tenable, some...

Scott McKinnel, ANZ Country Manager, Tenable - avatar Scott McKinnel, ANZ Country Manager, Tenable

InteliCare triple winner at prestigious national technology awards

InteliCare triple winner at prestigious national technology awards Intelicare wins each nominated category and takes out overall category at national technology 2020 iAwards. Company wins overal...

Media Release - avatar Media Release

Arriba Group Founder, Marcella Romero, wins CEO Magazine’s Managing Director of the Year

Founder and Managing Director of the Arriba Group, Marcella Romero, has won Managing Director of the Year at last night’s The CEO Magazine’s Executive of the Year Awards. The CEO Magazine's Ex...

Lanham Media - avatar Lanham Media



News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion