Covering the Earth are seven belts of atmospheric pressure. The lowest can be found at the equator. They increase as they move towards the poles. The major wind systems lie between these zones of low and high pressure and are referred to as; the northeast and southeast trade winds, the westerlies which include the roaring forties and furious fifties, the polar easterlies and finally the monsoons.
As air rises, the pressure lowers and the air around it moves in causing wind. The greater the degree of pressure over a given distance the faster the wind. This action is called pressure gradient force. Most wind moves across the ground. It is unusual for it to move up and down except where there are thunderstorm downdrafts. One other force that must be considered is known in physics as the Coriolis effect. When a mass is moving in a rotating system there is a force acting perpendicular to the direction of motion and to the axis of rotation. On Earth moving objects are subject to deflection to the right if in the northern hemisphere and to the left if in the southern hemisphere. This effect becomes important when discussing the formation of cyclonic weather systems.
Seasonal winds include all movements of air that are repetitive and predictable forming what become known as weather patterns. They are found in various geographic regions around the world. The most common are the monsoon winds. The monsoon is a low latitude wind which changes direction between summer and winter. During winter it blows from the land and is composed of cool dry air and from the water to the land in summer when the air is moist and warm. These conditions cause drastic changes in the amount of precipitation and in the temperature patterns of the area where the monsoon occurs. Southern Asia experiences the most pronounced monsoon system however one can find this system happening in West Africa, Australia and the Pacific Ocean. There is even a small system called the North American monsoon, the Mexican monsoon or Arizona monsoon. The monsoon impacts the agricultural economies of the area. It can cause flooding, severe winds and the loss off many many lives.
Short bursts of wind are called gusts. Stronger winds lasting about a minute are known as squalls. Longer winds of increasing strength are termed breezes, gales, storms and hurricanes.
From times of myth, through times of history the wind has influenced thinkers in the fields of warfare, mechanics, transportation, power generation and recreation. They have shaped landscapes from deserts to fertile soil. They have impacted wildfires, dispersed seeds encouraging the survival of plant species, had negative consequences for farm animals, disturbed hunting grounds, and thwarted defensive strategies.
In conclusion let it be said of the wind:
When you can’t change its direction, adjust your sails.