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Movement of air relative to the surface of the Earth. Wind is an important factor in determining and controlling climate and weather. It is also the generating force of most ocean and freshwater waves. Wind occurs because of horizontal and vertical differences in atmospheric pressure. The general pattern of winds over the Earth is known as the general circulation, and specific winds are named for the direction from which they originate (e.g., a wind blowing from west to east is a westerly). Wind speeds are often classified according to the Beaufort scale.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on wind, visit Britannica.com.