Pressure belts

Mains Marks Booster     5th August 2023        
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Pressure belts

Pressure belts refer to the global patterns of atmospheric pressure that exist on Earth's surface. These belts are formed due to the distribution of solar energy received by different regions and the rotation of the Earth. Understanding pressure belts is crucial in comprehending global weather patterns and the movement of air masses.

Pressure belts

Equatorial Low-Pressure Belt:

  • Also known as the Doldrums, it is located near the equator, between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
  • It is characterized by low atmospheric pressure due to intense solar heating, causing warm air to rise and create a zone of low pressure.
  • Rising air cools, condenses, and produces abundant rainfall, making this region prone to thunderstorms and heavy precipitation.

Subtropical High-Pressure Belts:

  • Found around 30 degrees latitude in both hemispheres, known as the subtropics.
    The descending air from higher altitudes creates high pressure, resulting in stable and dry conditions.
  • These belts are responsible for the formation of arid regions such as the Sahara Desert in Africa and the Mojave Desert in North America.

Subpolar Low-Pressure Belts:

  • Situated around 60 degrees latitude in both hemispheres.
  • These low-pressure areas are a consequence of the convergence of polar air masses with warmer air masses from the mid-latitudes.
  • Characterized by stormy weather, strong winds, and abundant precipitation, especially in coastal areas.
  • Play a vital role in the formation and movement of mid-latitude cyclones.

Polar High-Pressure Belts:

  • Located near the poles, around 90 degrees latitude in both hemispheres.
  • Extremely cold temperatures cause air to descend, resulting in high pressure.
  • These belts are associated with extremely dry and stable atmospheric conditions, with little precipitation.

Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ):

  • Also known as the doldrums, it is a shifting belt near the equator where the northeast and southeast trade winds meet.
  • The convergence of trade winds creates a zone of low pressure and abundant rainfall.
    The ITCZ shifts seasonally, following the migration of the sun.

Polar Front:

  • A dynamic boundary separating cold polar air from warmer mid-latitude air.
  • It is an area of significant temperature contrast, leading to the development of low-pressure systems and stormy weather.
  • The polar front is associated with the formation of extratropical cyclones.

Pressure Gradient:

  • Refers to the rate of change of atmospheric pressure over a given distance.
  • Air moves from regions of higher pressure to lower pressure due to the pressure gradient force.
  • The strength of the pressure gradient affects wind speed, with stronger gradients resulting in faster winds.


Understanding pressure belts helps meteorologists and climatologists predict weather patterns, track storm systems, and analyze global climate phenomena like El Niño and La Niña. These belts, along with other factors such as ocean currents and topography, influence the climate and weather conditions experienced across different regions of the world.

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