Low-pressure area

A low-pressure area, low, or depression is a region where the atmospheric pressure is lower than that of surrounding locations. Low-pressure systems form under areas of wind divergence that occur in the upper levels of the troposphere. The formation process of a low-pressure area is known as cyclogenesis. Within the field of meteorology, atmospheric divergence aloft occurs in two areas. The first area is on the east side of upper troughs, which form half of a Rossby wave within the Westerlies (a trough with large wavelength that extends through the troposphere). A second area of wind divergence aloft occurs ahead of embedded shortwave troughs, which are of smaller wavelength. Diverging winds aloft ahead of these troughs cause atmospheric lift within the troposphere below, which lowers surface pressures as upward motion partially counteracts the force of gravity.

Cyclogenesis is the development and strengthening of cyclonic circulations, or low-pressure areas, within the atmosphere. Cyclogenesis is the opposite of cyclolysis, and has an anticyclonic (high-pressure system) equivalent which deals with the formation of high-pressure areas—anticyclogenesis. Cyclogenesis is an umbrella term for several different processes, all of which result in the development of some sort of cyclone. Meteorologists use the term "cyclone" where circular pressure systems flow in the direction of the Earth's rotation, which normally coincides with areas of low pressure. The largest low-pressure systems are cold-core polar cyclones and extratropical cyclones which lie on the synoptic scale. Warm-core cyclones such as tropical cyclones, mesocyclones, and polar lows lie within the smaller mesoscale. Subtropical cyclones are of intermediate size. Cyclogenesis can occur at various scales, from the microscale to the synoptic scale. Larger-scale troughs, also called Rossby waves, are synoptic in scale. Shortwave troughs embedded within the flow around larger scale troughs are smaller in scale, or mesoscale in nature. Both Rossby waves and shortwaves embedded within the flow around Rossby waves migrate equatorward of the polar cyclones located in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. All share one important aspect, that of upward vertical motion within the troposphere. Such upward motions decrease the mass of local atmospheric columns of air, which lowers surface pressure

Large polar cyclones help determine the steering of systems moving through the mid-latitudes, south of the Arctic and north of the Antarctic. An index which is used to gauge the magnitude of this effect in the Northern Hemisphere is the Arctic oscillation. Extratropical cyclones tend to form east of climatological trough positions aloft near the east coast of continents, or west side of oceans. A study of extratropical cyclones in the Southern Hemisphere shows that between the 30th and 70th parallels, there are an average of 37 cyclones in existence during any 6-hour period. A separate study in the Northern Hemisphere suggests that approximately 234 significant extratropical cyclones form each winter. In Europe, particularly the United Kingdom, recurring extratropical low-pressure weather systems are typically known as depressions. These tend to bring wet weather throughout the year. Thermal lows also occur over continental areas across the subtropics during the summer such as the Sonoran Desert, the Mexican plateau, Sahara, South America, and Southeast Asia. The lows are most commonly located over the Tibetan plateau and in the lee of the Rocky mountains

The Coriolis force caused by the Earth's rotation is what gives winds around low-pressure areas (such as in hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons) their counter-clockwise (anticlockwise) circulation in the northern hemisphere (as the wind moves inward and is deflected right from the center of high pressure) and clockwise circulation in the southern hemisphere (as the wind moves inward and is deflected left from the center of high pressure). A cyclone differs from a hurricane or typhoon only on the basis of location. A hurricane is a storm that occurs in the Atlantic Ocean and northeastern Pacific Ocean, a typhoon occurs in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, and a cyclone occurs in the south Pacific or Indian Ocean. Friction with land slows down the wind flowing into low-pressure systems and causes wind to flow more inward, or flowing more ageostrophically, toward their centers. A low-pressure area is commonly associated with inclement weather, while a high-pressure area is associated with light winds and fair skies. Tornados are often too small, and of too short duration, to be influenced by the Coriolis force, but may be so-influenced when arising from a low-pressure system

Tropical waves, easterly waves, or tropical easterly waves, also known as African easterly waves in the Atlantic region, are a type of atmospheric trough, an elongated area of relatively low air pressure, oriented north to south, which moves from east to west across the tropics causing areas of cloudiness and thunderstorms. West-moving waves can also form from the tail end of frontal zones in the subtropics and tropics and may be referred to as easterly waves, but these waves are not properly called tropical waves; they are a form of inverted trough sharing many characteristics with fully tropical waves. All tropical waves form in the easterly flow along the equatorward side of the subtropical ridge or belt of high pressure which lies north and south of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). Tropical waves are generally carried westward by the prevailing easterly winds along the tropics and subtropics near the equator. They can lead to the formation of tropical cyclones in the north Atlantic and eastern north Pacific basins. Tropical wave study is aided by Hovm?ller diagrams, a graph of meteorological data.

Tropical waves in the Atlantic basin develop from disturbances which develop as far east as Sudan in east Africa and drift over the continent into the Atlantic ocean. These are generated or enhanced by the African Easterly Jet. The clockwise circulation of the large transoceanic high-pressure cell or anticyclone centered near the Azores islands (known as the Azores High) impels easterly waves away from the coastal areas of Africa towards North America.

Approximately 60% of Atlantic tropical cyclones originate from tropical waves, while approximately 85% of intense Atlantic hurricanes (Category 3 and greater) develop from tropical waves.

Tropical cyclones can sometimes degenerate back into a tropical wave. This normally occurs if upper-level wind shear is too strong. The storm can redevelop if the upper level shear abates.

If a tropical wave is moving quickly, it can have strong winds of over tropical storm force, but is not considered a tropical storm unless it has a closed circulation. An example of this was Hurricane Claudette in 2003, where the original wave had winds of 45 mph (72 km/h) before developing a circulation.
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