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The trade winds are the prevailing pattern of easterly surface winds found in the tropics , within the lower portion of the Earth's atmosphere , in the lower section of the troposphere near the Earth's equator. The trade winds blow predominantly from the northeast in the Northern Hemisphere and from the southeast in the Southern Hemisphere , strengthening during the winter and when the Arctic oscillation is in its warm phase.
Trade winds have been used by captains of sailing ships to cross the world's oceans for centuries, and enabled colonial expansion into the Americas and trade routes to become established across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. In meteorology , the trade winds act as the steering flow for tropical storms that form over the Atlantic, Pacific, and southern Indian Oceans and make landfall in North America, Southeast Asia, and Madagascar and eastern Africa, respectively.
Trade winds also transport African dust westward across the Atlantic Ocean into the Caribbean Sea , as well as portions of southeastern North America. Shallow cumulus clouds are seen within trade wind regimes, and are capped from becoming taller by a trade wind inversion, which is caused by descending air aloft from within the subtropical ridge. The weaker the trade winds become, the more rainfall can be expected in the neighboring landmasses. The term trade winds originally derives from the early fourteenth century late Middle English word 'trade,' meaning "path" or "track.
They could then turn northeast, to the area around the Azores islands, and finally east to mainland Europe. Following the African coast southbound means upwind in the Southern hemisphere. In the Pacific ocean, the full wind circulation, which included both the trade wind easterlies and higher-latitude Westerlies , was unknown to Europeans until Andres de Urdaneta 's voyage in The captain of a sailing ship seeks a course along which the winds can be expected to blow in the direction of travel.
For example, Manila galleons could not sail into the wind at all. By the 18th century the importance of the trade winds to England's merchant fleet for crossing the Atlantic Ocean had led both the general public and etymologists to identify the name with a later meaning of 'trade', " foreign commerce". As part of the Hadley cell , surface air flows toward the equator while the flow aloft is towards the poles.
A low-pressure area of calm, light variable winds near the equator is known as the doldrums ,  near-equatorial trough,  intertropical front, or the Intertropical Convergence Zone.
The subsident sinking air is relatively dry because as it descends, the temperature increases, but the absolute humidity remains constant, which lowers the relative humidity of the air mass. This warm, dry air is known as a superior air mass and normally resides above a maritime tropical warm and moist air mass. An increase of temperature with height is known as a temperature inversion.
When it occurs within a trade wind regime, it is known as a trade wind inversion. The surface air that flows from these subtropical high-pressure belts toward the Equator is deflected toward the west in both hemispheres by the Coriolis effect.
The trade winds of both hemispheres meet at the doldrums. As they blow across tropical regions, air masses heat up over lower latitudes due to more direct sunlight. Those that develop over land continental are drier and hotter than those that develop over oceans maritime , and travel northward on the western periphery of the subtropical ridge.
The cold phase of the AO leads to weaker trade winds. During mid-summer in the Northern Hemisphere July , the westward-moving trade winds south of the northward-moving subtropical ridge expand northwestward from the Caribbean sea into southeastern North America Florida and Gulf Coast.
When dust from the Sahara moving around the southern periphery of the ridge travels over land, rainfall is suppressed and the sky changes from a blue to a white appearance which leads to an increase in red sunsets. Its presence negatively impacts air quality by adding to the count of airborne particulates. There is a large variability in the dust transport to the Caribbean and Florida from year to year. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
This article is about the weather phenomenon. For other uses, see Tradewind. Age of Discovery , Volta do Mar , and Age of sail. Braham; Enid Pearsons; Deborah M. Random House Webster's College Dictionary second ed. Historical atlas of the North Pacific Ocean: A text-book of commercial geography. Mcgraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. Archived from the original on Encyclopedia of world climatology.