Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Roaring 40s

This past weekend I watched a special on the Science Channel about the Roaring 40s (also known as the Furious Forties). A phenomenon I had heard about before but never paid much mind to, the Roaring 40s actually turned on my interest as I discovered more about it.

The Roaring 40s refers to the parallel latitudes between 40° South and 50° South, which happens to only pass through the countries of New Zealand, Chile and Argentina. Because of the very reason that prevailing westerly winds moving through these latitudes are hardly disrupted by land, they, and the choppy seas they churn up, have for years shaped the pelagic coastlines they batter.

Global wind currents like the Roaring 40s are influenced by the Earth's shape and spin, and by basic thermodynamics, such as hot air rising and cold air sinking. The great speed of their winds is produced because of the relative change in rotational speed of the land at the Earth's surface. Because of this, the Roaring 40s vary greatly from day to day, across the seasons, and also from year to year.

Anyway, you are probably wondering why I am so into this phenomenon, but if you saw the special you would know! You’d see jagged mountains, rugged coastlines, lush rainforests, exotic habitats, unusual wildlife, dramatic seas, and a magnificent take on one of the many natural features that shape planet Earth. I guess it's just one of those occurrences that make you feel so small and insignificant to the power of nature!

That is all…