Science Corner: Coriolis force explained with a balloon

Science Corner

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The Coriolis effect is the apparent acceleration of a moving body on or near the Earth as a result of the Earth’s rotation. In short terms, it is the movement of an air mass due to the rotation of Earth!  

For this experiment you will need a balloon and a marker. Now if I rotate the balloon and draw a line southward towards the equator in the Northern Hemisphere the line is deflected to the left. The exact opposite happens in the Southern Hemisphere.

There are two main forces that control the movement of a large air mass above the surface level: Pressure Gradient Force and Coriolis Force. The Earth is always trying to stay in constant balance with itself as an air masses tendency is to always travel from a high to low pressure. It’s motion will never be a direct path because the rotation of the Earth deflects its path.

In the Northern Hemisphere, air moving toward the Equator is deflected to the right of its direction of motion. Conversely, air moving from the Equator toward the North Pole is deflected to the east

It is easy to see the Coriolis force in large scale wind patterns. The trade winds direction is formed due to PFG and Coriolis force and can result into strong winds along the equator.

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