What is the Coriolis Effect?

What is the Coriolis Effect?

The earth rotates around itself at a speed of approximately 1609 km / h. This rotational motion also affects the movements of air and water around the world. This effect is referred to by physicists as the Coriolis Effect. The word “Coriolis” comes from the French scientist Gaspard Coriolis who found this effect in the 19th century.

As can be seen from the animation on the side, a ball trying to move towards the opposite side of a rotating platform does not follow a linear movement and completes its movement by drawing a curve. This happens because of the Coriolis effect. He sees that the ball is being pushed at a right angle to the side it wants to go. Similarly, air moving on the surface of the rotating earth deflects it to the right in the northern hemisphere and to the left in the southern hemisphere.

To give a more realistic example from life, we have observed since our childhood that when water is collected in the sink in our house, this water turns from left to right while it is discharged. It turns from left to right because we are in the northern hemisphere. If we observe the same event in the southern hemisphere, the water will turn from right to left.

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The Coriolis effect is an effect that most of us do not notice and do not need to observe in daily life. However, this effect is so important that it is vital in some industries. In order for a missile or a shuttle launched into space to reach its destination and land in a healthy way, the Coriolis effect should be included in the calculations and its orbits should be determined accordingly. Otherwise, millions of dollars of investments, a lot of effort, and research will be lost in the space before they reach their goals.

Those who will use a sniper weapon professionally also know very well the meaning and importance of Coriolis force in physics and make the necessary adjustments from an adjustment knob on their weapons in order to hit their targets precisely. Because the distance traveled by a cartridge coming out of the barrel of the gun to reach the target can reach enormous values ​​such as 2-3 km in some cases. As such, this cartridge will not reach the target by following a linear movement after it leaves the barrel, it will reach the destination point by making a right / left curved movement under the influence of Coriolis force. If the necessary fine calculations are not made and the laws of physics are not taken into account, the result will fail.


  1. https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/tutorial_currents/04currents1.html

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