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What is the Coriolis parameter?

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Quick Answer

The Coriolis parameter is a postulate that explains the forces acting on objects, such as a fixed volume of air, as it moves through the atmosphere of a spinning Earth. The equation describing it takes into account the rotation of the Earth, latitude of the object and its altitude.

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Full Answer

Accurately calculating the Coriolis parameter is critical to understanding the behavior of large, chaotic systems such as storms. As the mass of air travels away from the equator or rises in latitude, the Coriolis effect works to change the longitude of the weather front by transferring energy from Earth's rotation to the air. The Coriolis parameter describes the angle and force of this energy transfer.

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