By the end of this chapter, you should be able to:
- identify regions of convergence, divergence, positive vorticity, and negative vorticity on a weather map
- calculate the strength of the different flow types from observations
- relate vertical motion to horizontal convergence and divergence
The study of kinematics provides a physical and quantitative description of our atmospheric motion, while the study of dynamics provides the physical and quantitative cause-and-effect for this motion. This lesson discusses kinematics. When we look at weather in motion from a satellite, we see very complicated swirls and stretching that evolve over time. We can see the same types of motions on a much smaller scale by observing swirling leaves. These complex motions can be ascribed to combinations of just five different types of atmospheric motion. Quantifying these motions with mathematics, without assigning a cause to the motion, is the focus of this lesson on kinematics.
Thumbnail: Water vapor in the atmosphere over North America showing the behavior of different air parcels as they interact. (Public Domain: NOAA)