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Giving Rise to the Jet Stream

WGBH NOVA, Teachers' Domain

This 15-panel interactive from NOVA Online describes some of the factors (e.g., Earth's rotation and the sun's uneven heating of Earth's surface) contributing to the formation of the high-speed eastward flows of the jet streams, found near the top of the troposphere. These jet streams play a major role in guiding weather systems.

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Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

About the Science

  • The visualization first explains the basic wind patterns that occur in a non-rotating Earth heated by the sun and then the change due to Earth's rotation.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The slides describe the basics of atmospheric circulation very well, emphasizing the key point that it is driven by the Sun, Earth's rotation, and the Sun's differential heating of the planet.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • This interactive clearly explains some of the factors underlying the basic characteristics of jet streams.
  • A background essay, discussion questions, and a link to standards provide other good resources on the same website. There are links to definitions of the science terms used in the interactive.
  • There are a couple of discussion questions that support deeper comprehension.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The graphics and animations in this resource are clear and simple but with little visual flourish.
  • The black text on the blue background could be difficult for some people to read.
  • Slides can be enlarged using the browser zoom function.
  • There should be no technical difficulties in using this resource if the browser has the Adobe Flash plugin installed.

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