Cyclones and Anticyclones

Cyclones and anticyclones are natural phenomena that influence the weather patterns across the globe. These weather systems are crucial in shaping the weather in different regions and are often characterized by low or high-pressure centers, winds, and temperature changes. In this article, we will explore the basics of cyclones and anticyclones and how they influence the environment.

Cyclones and Anticyclones

What is a Cyclone?

A cyclone is a weather system characterized by low atmospheric pressure in the center and high-pressure systems on the outside. Cyclones are formed as warm air rises and cold air descends, creating a rotating cycle of air. They are also known as a rotating storm, and the direction of their circulation is counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.

Cyclones are named after the Greek word “coils of snake” because the figures formed when a cyclone occurs in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea look like coils of a snake. These weather systems cause significant damage, including strong winds, heavy rains, and floods, leading to property damage and loss of life.

Role of Cyclones

Cyclones play a vital role in shaping the environment. They are responsible for redistributing heat and moisture across the globe, and their winds transport heat from the tropics to the poles. Cyclones also help in regulating the Earth’s temperature, as they act as a heat sink, removing heat from the Earth’s surface and releasing it to the upper atmosphere.

Classification of Cyclones

There are two types of cyclones: tropical cyclones and extra-tropical cyclones.

Tropical Cyclones

Tropical cyclones are violent storms that develop in tropical and subtropical waters. They are characterized by strong winds, heavy rainfall, and severe thunderstorms. These weather systems form over warm ocean waters between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. When the wind speed starts to accelerate outwards at a minimum of 63 km per hour, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) labels it as a tropical cyclone.

Extra-Tropical Cyclones

Extra-tropical cyclones, also known as temperate cyclones, middle-latitude cyclones, frontal cyclones, or wave cyclones, occur in cold places between 60°-90° S/N. They form in high latitudes and are active between 35° and 60°-65° N/s. Unlike tropical cyclones, they are often associated with cold fronts, warm fronts, and occluded fronts.


Anticyclones are the opposite of cyclones, characterized by high atmospheric pressure in the center and low-pressure systems on the outside. The circulation in anticyclones is clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.


The space between cyclones and anticyclones on all sides is called Saddle. It is a crucial area as it often determines the direction of wind and weather patterns.

The Formation of Cyclones and Anticyclones

Cyclones and anticyclones are formed by the movement of air in the atmosphere. Cyclones occur when warm air rises, creating low pressure, while anticyclones form when cool air descends, creating high pressure.

Nomenclature of Cyclones

In 2004, the WMO adopted a naming system for tropical cyclones. The naming system for the Indian Ocean region was started in the same year, and the people of eight countries around the Indian Ocean adopted it. The cyclones are named based on a predetermined list of names, and the list changes every few years.


In conclusion, cyclones and anticyclones are important weather phenomena that occur across the globe. Cyclones are characterized by low pressure in the centre and high pressure towards the outside, while anticyclones have high pressure in the centre and low pressure towards the outside. There are two types of cyclones – tropical and extra-tropical – that develop in different regions of the world and have varying characteristics. Understanding the formation and behaviour of cyclones and anticyclones is crucial for predicting and preparing for natural disasters and extreme weather events. By following the guidelines and conditions for cyclone formation, experts can provide early warnings to people living in vulnerable areas, reducing the potential for loss of life and property damage. Overall, studying and monitoring cyclones and anticyclones is an essential part of modern meteorology and helps us better understand the complex interactions between air masses and the Earth’s atmosphere.

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