1620s, from Latin convectionem (nominative convectio) "the act of carrying," noun of action from past participle stem of convehere "to carry together," from com- "together" (see com-) + vehere "to carry" (see vehicle). Related: Convective. Convection current recorded from 1868.
Current in a fluid caused by uneven distribution of heat. For example, air on a part of the Earth's surface warmed by strong sunlight will be heated by contact with the ground and will expand and flow upward, creating a region of low pressure below it; cooler surrounding air will then flow in to this low pressure region. The air thus circulates by convection, creating winds. See Note at conduction.
The motion of warm material that rises, cools off, and sinks again, producing a continuous circulation of material and transfer of heat. Some examples of processes involving convection are boiling water, in which heat is transferred from the stove to the air; the circulation of the atmosphere of the Earth, transferring heat from the equator to the North Pole and South Pole; and plate tectonics, in which heat is transferred from the interior of the Earth to its surface.