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Coriolis effect The Coriolis effect, or force, produces a deflection of moving objects and currents to the right in the Northern Hemisphere and to the left in the Southern Hemisphere. The force ranges from zero at the equator to a maximum at the poles and can be understood by considering the rotation of the Earth from a position above the poles. If we look down from above the North Pole, the rotation appears to be counterclockwise, and from above the south Pole it appears to be clockwise. Points on or very near the poles do not have to travel far during one rotation of the Earth about its axis because the circular path traveled has a relatively small diameter, whereas points that lie on the equator must speed through space at 1,000 miles per hour (1,600 km/hr) to complete a rotation, traveling a distance approximately the length of the Earth's diameter within 24 hours.
As air and water move poleward from the equatorial regions, they bring with them the higher velocity they acquired while traveling closer to the equator. The slower speeds of rotation of the Earth under the moving air and water cause these fluids to move a greater distance per unit time than the underlying Earth, and this results in a deflection to the right in the Northern Hemisphere, and to the left in the Southern Hemisphere. Likewise, air and water moving from the poles to the equator will be moving slower than the underlying Earth, this time causing the Earth to move more per unit time than the air or water. This again causes a deflection to the right in the Northern Hemisphere, and to the left in the Southern Hemisphere.
See also atmosphere; Coriolis, Gustave.
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