Observe atmospheric circulation on Earth with these visualizations from NASA. See global patterns in surface and upper-level winds. Fast-moving belts of upper-level winds, called jet streams, travel around the planet in wavy paths from west to east; in this data visualization, faster winds are colored red while slower winds are colored blue. Surface winds, shown in white, are generally slower and have patterns such as the easterly trade winds near the equator, the westerlies in the middle latitudes, and the polar easterlies.
To view the Background Essay and Teaching Tips for this media gallery, go to Support Materials below. This resource was developed through WGBH’s Bringing the Universe to America’s Classrooms project, in collaboration with NASA. Click here for the full collection of resources.