General Circulation: Suggestions for Teachers

IntroductionTank – Hadley | Tank – Eddies | Atmosphere – Hadley | Atmosphere – Eddies | Theory | For Teachers | Wiki

An effective way to introduce this project to students is to phrase it in terms of the two main ‘ingredients’ that control the general circulation of the atmosphere:

  1. differential heating (i.e. warming of the equator, cooling of the pole, leading to a pole-equator temperature gradient)
  2. earth’s rotation

Four separate tank experiments can be discussed using the matrix below, each with a different combination of rotation rate (zero and large) and temperature gradient (zero and large). For this purpose you can download a pdf of the matrix here.

Encourage students to make predictions about what they expect to see (get them to discuss their predictions) before the experiments are performed.

The results of the four experiments are shown below:

Note that Experiments 1 and 2 are essentially the same: both correspond to solid body rotation. Experiment 3 is the Hadley regime and Experiment 4 is the eddying regime.