Occurring over various time periods and at various geographic scales, atmospheric circulation refers to the mass movement of air and energy through the Earth-atmosphere system. The driving force behind atmospheric circulation is the amount and intensity of solar energy, or insolation, which differs according to latitude, season, and hour of day. Topography, unequal land and water distribution, and land surface type also contribute to atmospheric circulation characteristics. In combination with ocean circulation, the atmosphere is responsible for moving the surplus energy of the low latitudes poleward to counterbalance the energy deficit of higher latitudes.

Atmospheric circulation systems are classified according to their spatial and temporal extent. A direct relationship exists between the size of the atmospheric phenomenon and the timescale involved, with larger (smaller) systems ...

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