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How does the atmosphere rotate with the Earth?

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I'm spinning around, move out of my way!

Asked by: Rod Lennox, Colchester


Bound to the Earth by gravity, most of the atmosphere spins along with it as a result of friction with the ground and the viscosity or ‘stickiness’ of the different layers of air above it.

Above 200km, however, the incredibly thin atmosphere actually spins faster than the Earth. The cause of this bizarre ‘super-rotation’ effect remains unclear, but has also been detected on Venus.

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Robert is a science writer and visiting professor of science at Aston University.


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