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Buys Ballot Law

Wind Direction in a Pressure System

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Buys Ballot's Law was introduced by a Dutch professor Christoph Buys Ballot in 1857. Sometimes called the Baric Wind Law, the atmospheric relationship between air pressure and wind direction was established.

The Postulate of Buys Ballot's Law

If you stand with your back to the wind in the Northern Hemisphere, air pressure will be lower to your left. If you stand facing the wind in the Northern Hemisphere, air pressure will be lower to your right.

If you stand with your back to the wind in the Southern Hemisphere, air pressure will be lower to your right. If you stand facing the wind, air pressure will be lower to the left.

The difference between the center of the low pressure zones in the Northern vs. Southern Hemispheres is due to the Coriolis Effect. The direction of rotation for hurricanes can be explained in terms of Buys Ballot's law.

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