Coriolis Effect – Definition

Coriolis Effect

A force per unit mass that arises solely from the earth’s rotation, acting as a deflecting force. It is dependent on the latitude and the speed of the moving object. In the Northern Hemisphere, air is deflected to the right of its path, while in the Southern Hemisphere, air is deflected to the left of its path. It is greatest at the poles, North and South, and almost nonexistent at the equator.


The spinning of a body, such as the earth, about its axis.


The location north or south in reference to the equator, which is designated at zero (0) degrees. Parallel lines that circle the globe both north and south of the equator. The poles are at 90° North and South latitude.


This is considered the mixture of gases that make up the earth’s atmosphere. The principal gases that compose dry air are Nitrogen (N2) at 78.09%, Oxygen (O2) at 20.946%, Argon (A) at 0.93%, and Carbon Dioxide (CO2) at 0.033%. One of the most important constituents of air and most important gases in meteorology is water vapor (H2O).

Poles / Polar

The poles are the geographic point at 90 degrees latitude North and South on the earth’s surface. They are equal distance from the equator. The polar region is considered to be that area between 60° and 90° latitude, both North and South.


The geographic circle at 0 degrees latitude on the earth’s surface. It is equal distance from the North and South Poles and divides the Northern Hemisphere from the Southern.