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Question

How does Earth's Rotation relate to time taken by aircraft to reach from say India to the United States and back?
Asked by: Sheetal V Shah

Answer

Because Earth's rotation carries the atmosphere along with it, it has no direct impact on air travel in either direction. There is an indirect affect, however, because Earth's rotation creates the Coriolis affect which determines wind patterns as air flows from high to low pressure areas.

With no rotation, wind patterns would generally be in a north-south direction as rising warm air near the equator was replaced by cooler air from the poles. Rotation diverts that flow to create an east-west component. The prevailing west-to-east air flow in the U.S., for example, causes most flights from California to New York to take less time than those from New York to California.
Answered by: Paul Walorski, B.A., Part-time Physics/Astronomy Instructor



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