Has Earth’s atmosphere ruffled your hair, blown your homework down the street, or turned your umbrella inside out? The atmosphere, a thin blanket of gases that surrounds Earth, transports heat and water and filters out deadly ultraviolet radiation. Whether it is just a gentle breeze or a hurricane-force gale, Earth’s atmosphere is constantly on the move.
When the atmosphere moves, it evens out differences in temperature between the chilly poles and the warm equator. Warm air from the equator moves toward the poles and cold air from the poles moves toward the equator. This circulation of air is disrupted a bit by the Earth’s rotation. This makes counterclockwise winds around hurricanes, winter storms, tornadoes, and other low-pressure areas north of the equator and clockwise south of the equator.