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Coriolis Force

  • By: Bryan G. Mark
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

The rotation of Earth, a spinning spherical planet, has been observed to cause a change in the trajectory of any moving body or mass (e.g., a current of air or water). This change in direction is caused by the Coriolis force, a force that is in turn created by the rotating frame of reference. The Earth's rotating frame is anticlockwise when viewing the Northern Hemisphere from space but the opposite for the Southern Hemisphere; thus, any mass given velocity across the Earth's surface will experience an apparent force that will veer it to the right in the Northern Hemisphere and to the left in the Southern Hemisphere. Understanding the Coriolis force, named after the French engineer Gustave Gaspard de Coriolis, is fundamental to explaining major ...

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