What Is Moving Air Called?

Moving air is called wind. Winds are caused by differences in air pressure but can be modified by the Coriolis effect and friction. The movement of winds is generally horizontal, but it can take on a vertical component in a thunderstorm.

Winds are caused by a difference in air pressure called the pressure gradient force. The pressure gradient force moves air under high pressure into regions where the air is under low pressure. A large difference in air pressure between two air masses results in fast winds.

The Coriolis force causes air to move because of the Earth's rotation. It causes air to move to the right in the Northern Hemisphere and to the left in the Southern Hemisphere. The Coriolis force is strongest at the poles and weakest near the equator.

Near Earth's surface, friction becomes a factor in air movement. This force changes the direction of the wind and slows its movement.