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Atmosphere Academy: The atmosphere never takes a break

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It has often been said of southeastern North Carolina: “If you don’t like the weather, just wait 10 minutes- it will change.” That sentiment may have more truth than you think.

If you want a normal 9 to 5 job, don’t go into meteorology! After all, the atmosphere never takes a break! It seems that the weather is constantly changing, but to uncover the reason why you have to first look beyond our planet, to the Sun.

You see, it’s the Sun that provides the necessary energy for weather here on Earth. Our planet’s rotational axis is tilted 23.5 degrees. In addition, our planet rotates about it’s own axis while traveling in a general orbit around the Sun.

The end result of this complicated set-up is that the Earth does not heat evenly. Some parts of our planet are hot while others are cold, and this temperature pattern varies with season, or even with simple transition from day to night.

Temperature variation leads to variation in air pressure; that’s why the planet is full of, relatively speaking, regions of high pressure and low pressure. When high pressure systems and low pressure systems strengthen in close proximity to one another, the pressure gradient is increased. It’s the increase in pressure gradient that squeezes the flow to create a rush of air we call wind. It’s this wind flow that keeps systems on the move, and provides us with a constantly changing pallet of weather.

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videoIt has often been said of southeastern North Carolina: “If you don’t like the weather, just wait 10 minutes- it will change.” That sentiment may have more truth than you think.

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Associated poll

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