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Hadley Circulation-Heat Transport in the Atmosphere

Classroom/Laboratory Activity

A classroom/laboratory activity to learn about radiation, heat transport, convection, and energy/mass conservation by interpreting and mapping the Hadley Circulation.

Students will analyse and map real data through the NASA MERRA reanalysis model to understand the actual impact of the Hadley Cell on the Earth’s climate system (e.g., geographical distribution of deserts, global precipitation patterns, trade winds). Students will visualise 30-year-average data on winds and their vertical velocity to understand the Hadley circulation and its influence of regional climates.

Use this tool to help your students find answers to:

  1. How does the Hadley cell transport heat in the atmosphere?
  2. What might be the potential impacts of Hadley Cell expansion on the Earth’s climate, global precipitation patterns, and the geographical distribution of deserts?
About Tool
Tool Name Hadley Circulation using NASA Merra Reanalysis Model 
Discipline Physics, Earth Sciences 
Topic(s) in Discipline Convection, Conservation of Energy, Hadley Circulation, Energy and Mass Conservation; Thermally Direct Cell, Heat Transport
Climate Topic Climate and the Atmosphere
Type of tool Classroom/Laboratory Activity 
Grade Level High School, Undergraduate
Location Global
Language English
Translation      –
Developed by Stephen Po-Chedley and Chris Terai, Atmospheric Sciences (2012) for the UW in the High School Climate Science Course  
Hosted at College of the Environment, University of Washington
Access Online
Computer Skills Basic


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