Trade wind

The trade winds (also called trades) are the prevailing pattern of easterly winds found in the tropics near the Earth's equator [cite web|author= |title= trade winds|work=Glossary of Meteorology |publisher= American Meteorological Society |date= 2000 |accessdate=2008-09-08|url= |quote= ] . The trade winds blow predominantly from the northeast in the Northern Hemisphere and from the southeast in the Southern Hemisphere. The trade winds act as the steering flow for tropical storms that form over the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans that make landfall in North America, Southeast Asia, and India, respectively.

Origin of the name

Their name originally derives from the late Middle English word 'trade' (borrowed from Middle Low German, and cognate with English 'tread'), meaning "path" or "track," and thence the obsolete nautical phrase "the wind blows trade," that is to say, on a consistent track. However, by the 18th century, because of the importance of these winds to England's merchant fleet crossing the Atlantic Ocean, both etymologists and the general public had come to identify them with a later meaning of 'trade', "(foreign) commerce". ["Trade-Wind", "Oxford English Dictionary", Second Edition, p.225.]

Origin of the winds

The surface air flows toward the equator and the flow aloft is poleward. A low-pressure area of calm, light variable winds near the equator is known to mariners as the doldrums. Around 30° N. and S., the poleward flowing air begins to descend toward the surface in subtropical high-pressure belts. The sinking air is relatively dry because its moisture has already been released near the Equator above the tropical rain forests. Near the center of this high-pressure zone of descending air, called the "Horse Latitudes," the winds at the surface are weak and variable. The term Horse Latitudes probably came from the "dead horse" ritual, a practice in which the seamen would parade a straw-stuffed effigy of a horse around the deck before throwing it overboard.

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. Because winds are named for the direction from which the wind is blowing, these winds are called the northeast trade winds in the Northern Hemisphere and the southeast trade winds in the Southern Hemisphere. The trade winds meet at the doldrums. Surface winds known as "westerlies" flow from the Horse Latitudes toward the poles. The "westerlies" meet "easterlies" from the polar highs at about 50-60° N. and S.

Among the most well known trade winds is the alizé (sometimes alize), a steady, mild northeasterly wind which blows across central Africa and the Caribbean. It brings cool temperatures between November and February.

Trade winds are known to blow across Madagascar and other regions in the area.They are usually strongest in April to October but they do blow all year long.


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Trade wind — Trade Trade, n. [Formerly, a path, OE. tred a footmark. See {Tread}, n. & v.] 1. A track; a trail; a way; a path; also, passage; travel; resort. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] A postern with a blind wicket there was, A common trade to pass through Priam s …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • trade wind — /wind/ 1. Also trade winds. Also called trades. any of the nearly constant easterly winds that dominate most of the tropics and subtropics throughout the world, blowing mainly from the northeast in the Northern Hemisphere, and from the southeast… …   Universalium

  • trade wind — ► NOUN ▪ a wind blowing steadily towards the equator from the north east in the northern hemisphere or the south east in the southern hemisphere, especially at sea. ORIGIN from the obsolete phrase blow trade «blow steadily», from a former meaning …   English terms dictionary

  • trade wind — n. [earlier trade, adv., steadily in phr. to blow trade] a wind that blows steadily toward the equator from the northeast in the tropics north of the equator and from the southeast in the tropics south of the equator …   English World dictionary

  • trade wind — n [Date: 1600 1700; Origin: trade course (14 17 centuries); TRADE1] a tropical wind that blows towards the ↑equator from either the northeast or the southeast …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • trade wind — trade′ wind [[t]wɪnd[/t]] n. mer Often, trade winds. any of the nearly constant easterly winds that dominate most of the world s tropics and subtropics, blowing mainly from the northeast in the Northern Hemisphere, and from the southeast in the… …   From formal English to slang

  • trade wind — [ treıd ,wınd ] noun count a wind that blows continuously toward the EQUATOR (=the Earth s central line) …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • trade wind — is written as two words …   Modern English usage

  • trade wind — noun steady winds blowing from east to west above and below the equator they rode the trade winds going west • Syn: ↑trade • Hypernyms: ↑prevailing wind * * * noun Etymology: trade (IV …   Useful english dictionary

  • trade wind — UK [ˈtreɪd ˌwɪnd] / US noun [countable] Word forms trade wind : singular trade wind plural trade winds a wind that blows continuously towards the equator (= the imaginary line around the middle of the Earth) …   English dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.