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Ferrel Cell

Last updated date: 29th Feb 2024
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Ferrel Cell Definition

Ferrel cell refers to a model that belongs to the mid-latitude region of the Earth’s wind flow. The term was first proposed by William Ferrel in 1856. The air inside the Ferrel cell flows eastward and poleward near the equator and in higher altitude areas westward. It was the first model ever to account for the westerly winds, and the Ferrel cell latitude is between 35o Celsius and 60o Celsius in both the north and south hemispheres. However, the Ferrel cell is not yet considered a perfect representation of reality because it needs the wind to flow westward in the upper level of the mid-latitude. 

Hadley Cell and Ferrel Cell 

Hadley and Ferrel’s cells are characterized by the current atmospheric energies. There are various weather systems that weave around the globe at the same time. However, if an average is calculated, then the global order of air movement can be estimated.

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Differential Heating

The reason behind so many weather patterns, deserts, jet streams as well as prevailing winds is only because of the circulation of the global atmosphere that is caused due to the Earth’s rotation and the heat that the different parts of the globe receive individually. 

Sun is the primary source of heat on the Earth, and as the Earth is in a tilted position, the different regions of the Earth receive heat in different ways. The circulation of wind is caused due to the circulation of Hadley polar and Ferrel cells

A huge difference in the temperature is experienced due to the difference between the equator and the poles. The global circulation helps in providing inherent air conditioning to stop the poles from becoming too cold and the equator from becoming too hot. 

The Global Circulation and its Relation with Polar Cell, Ferrel Cell and Hadley Cell 

Vigorous wind circulation covers a significant part of the Earth’s surface. The global circulation is often regarded as a world-wide system of winds necessary to transport the heat from the tropical latitudes to the polar latitudes. 

There are three cells in each of the hemispheres, which are named Hadley Ferrel polar cells. The air circulates by the depth of the entire troposphere. The vertical extent of the atmosphere that starts from the surface and then goes directly to the top between 10km to 15km high is known as the troposphere. This is the place in the atmosphere where almost all the weather changes take place. 

Hadley cell

Hadley cell refers to the most prominent cell that extends from the equator and goes up to 30 to 40 degrees south and north. It is named after the famous meteorologist named George Hadley. In the Hadley cell, the winds blow towards the equator and then climb near the same place in the form of a broken thunderstorm as a line. This line then forms the Inter-Tropical-Convergence Zone (ITCZ). From the top of the storms, air flows towards the direction of high latitudes. It then sinks into there to produce high-pressure in the Earth’s hottest deserts region and the subtropical oceans, like the Sahara Desert of North Africa. 

Ferrel Cell

The middle cell is known as the Ferrel cell, and the air here converges at very low latitude to ascend through the boundaries between the warm tropical air and the cool polar air that appears between 60 to 70 degrees south and north. The Ferrel cell circulation is a mid-latitude circulation that was named by a famous person named Ferrel in the 19th century. 

It often takes place across the latitude of the UK that gives unsettled weather to the area. There is a connection between the Hadley cell Ferrel cell. Within the circulation process, air from the Ferrel cell flows at a high latitude and joins the Hadley cell through a sinking air.

Did You Know?

  • The weakest and the smallest cells are known as the Polar cells. 

  • These extend from 60 to 70 degrees south and north to the poles. 

  • Air in these particular cells sink through the highest latitudes and then flow out to the lower latitude on the surface. 

  • The polar front is the junction that connects the polar cell and the Ferrel cell. This is a low-pressure zone where the relatively warm moist air runs into a relatively dry and cold air of the Polar cell.

So, this is all about the global circulation of winds and their relationship with the polar cell, Hadley Cell and Ferrel Cell. A minute study of the diagrams along with the theoretical part will further clarify your concept of these topics. Practice the diagrams as you read! 

FAQs on Ferrel Cell

1. Mention a Few Ferrel Cell Characteristics.

  • The Ferrel cell moves in a circular motion and is named after an American meteorologist William Ferrel.

  • The air in the Ferrel cell flows in an eastward and poleward direction near the equator and surface area and a westward direction in the areas of higher latitudes.

  • It exists between 30 degrees North and South to 60 degrees North and South.

  • The westerly winds blow through the subtropical regions in a high pressure towards the subpolar low-pressure belts.

  • The Ferrel cells experience westerly winds on the surface areas.

  • In the southern hemisphere, the westerly winds blow in a northwest direction.

  • In the northern hemisphere, the westerlies blow in a southwest direction. 

2. Discuss the factors that Affect the Direction and Speed of the Wind.

Air is in motion because of the differences caused by atmospheric pressure. This air is called wind, which flows from high-pressure to low-pressure areas. The winds experience friction in the surface area, and the rotation of the earth affects the movement of the wind. The force that is formed due to the rotation of the Earth is called the Coriolis force. So, the horizontal winds that are present near the earth’s surface react to the combination of the following three forces, namely the pressure gradient force, the Coriolis force, and the frictional force.