• Subtropical ridge

    Subtropical ridge

    • The subtropical ridge, also known as the subtropical high or horse latitudes, is a significant belt of atmospheric high pressure situated around the latitudes of 30°N in the Northern Hemisphere and 30°S in the Southern Hemisphere. It is the product of the global air circulation cell known as the Hadley Cell. The subtropical ridge is characterized by mostly calm winds, which act to reduce air quality under its axis by causing fog overnight, and haze during daylight hours as a result of the stable atmosphere found near its location. The air descending from the upper troposphere flows out from its center at surface level toward the upper and lower latitudes of each hemisphere, creating both the trade winds and the westerlies. The subtropical ridge moves poleward during the summer, reaching its most northern latitude in early fall, before moving equatorward during the cold season. The El Niño southern climate oscillation (ENSO) can displace the northern hemisphere subtropical ridge, with La Niñas allowing for a more northerly axis for the ridge, while El Niños show flatter, more southerly ridges. The change of the ridge position during ENSO cycles changes the tracks of tropical cyclones that form around their equatorward and western peripheries. As the subtropical ridge varies in position and strength, it can enhance or depress monsoon regimes around their low-latitude periphery. The term "horse latitudes" refers to and is synonymous with the subtropical ridge or subtropical high.

      Heating of the earth near the equator leads to large amounts of convection along the monsoon trough or Intertropical convergence zone. This air mass rise to the lower stratosphere where it diverges, moving away from the equator in the upper troposphere in both northerly and southerly directions. As it moves towards the mid-latitudes on both sides of the equator, the air cools and sinks. The resulting air mass subsidence creates a subtropical ridge of high pressure near the 30th parallel in both hemispheres. At the surface level, the sinking air diverges again with some returning to the equator, completing the Hadley circulation. This circulation on each side of the equator is known as the Hadley cell and leads to the formation of the subtropical ridge. Many of the world's deserts are caused by these climatological high-pressure areas.

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    • Subtropical ridge