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What Is Meteorology And Its Uses Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 2779 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Every day, thousands and thousands of people tune into weather forecast on television, radio, even news papers for news about the weather and if any changes are going to take place in the upcoming days, like floods or droughts or temperature change. Meteorology is the study of all the changes in the atmosphere, whether they were changes in temperature, air pressure, moisture, or wind direction in the troposphere. The air around the earth is called the atmosphere, it is divided into layers. Weather happens in the troposphere, the bottom layer, directly above the ground. Mount Everest, the highest point on the Earth, reaches about half way up the troposphere. Meteorology is useful for weather processes and forecasting.

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What is meteorology?

Meteorology is the science of the atmosphere. It comes from the Greek word “meteoron”, which means something that happens high in the sky. Weather was important to the ancient Greeks because it affected the farmers who raised their crops and their seamen who sailed the oceans. The ancient Greeks observed and tried to understand how the clouds, wind, and rain were connected to one another.


Weather is an endless cycle of events. The four things that cause weather are the Sun, the atmosphere, water vapor and the wind. They all work together, spreading the Sun’s heat all over the world and making clouds. And the changes that occur over a longer period of time are known as climate. Weather has always been a significant concern to humans, and our inability to control it has led us to try to measure it, compare it, and predict it for the past hundreds of years. Weather contributes greatly with the study of meteorology, the five major weather elements are:

-Temperature -Wind

-Humidity -Pressure


The Sun

The sun is the main source of energy for the earth. The light and heat given out by the sun make it possible for plants and animals to live on earth. Without the sun, oceans would freeze and life could not be supported on earth. The sun is the key to the earth’s weather. It moves the air all over the world causing winds which carry weather changes. Air temperature is measured by a thermometer. http://images.google.com/url?source=imgres&ct=tbn&q=http://library.thinkquest.org/J0112188/sun_and_earth.gif&usg=AFQjCNH7-leVbgPcZpt29YvgoD3Yoo8NqQ


Air Pressure

Although air is light, there is so much of it that air can exert huge pressure on earth. Air pressure or atmospheric pressure is caused by the weight of all the air pressing down in all directions at the ground. Air pressure changes when the temperature changes, it varies from place to place and from time to time as the Sun’s heat varies. Areas of high pressure are formed where air is sinking down, so it’s pushing harder towards the earth. But when air rises it leaves behind an area of lower pressure, because upward moving air is not pushing down so hard on the surface this creates low pressure. Air pressure is measured in millibars ,mb, on a barometer. Barometers help us forecast weather because changes in air pressure are linked to changes in the weather.

Air Moisture

There are various forms of moisture. Moisture is present in the air either in the form of gas, liquid, or solid. Atmospheric moisture plays a significant role in weather when it changes from one state to the other. Warm air can hold more water than cold air can. A hygrometer can be used to measure humidity, which is the amount of water in the air. A hygrometer consists of a wet bulb and a dry bulb thermometer. One end of the wet bulb thermometer is covered with muslin, which is wet. When the air is dry, more water will evaporate and the wet bulb thermometer will show a low reading.

Air Masses

Air masses are huge masses of air which are warm, cold, moist, or dry depending on the land or sea they pass by. Air masses move all over the Earth’s surface, they help spread the Sun’s heat around the world. Air masses are classified according to the area or the source they came from.

There are two types of air masses. Air masses that form over oceans and seas called maritime. We have Tropical maritime, which develops over warm seas, and Polar maritime, forms over the seas near the poles. Air masses that form overland are called continental; there is Tropical continental, air mass that develops over hot or dry land, and Polar continental, air mass that develops over land near the poles.

Boundaries between air masses are called fronts. The weather can be very unsettled near the fronts; some cold fronts cause lines of violent storms. There are three types of fronts, warm, cold, and occluded.


Wind is moving air. It blows because some air masses become warmer than others, basically wind moves because of the difference in air pressure around the world. In warm air, the tiny particles of air spread out. A mass of warm air is lighter than a mass of cold air, because warm air is so light it rises. As warm air rises, cold air flows in to take place. Climate and weather are determined by the wind. Wind is also affected by the Coriolis Effect. The earth spins on its axis, in the northern hemisphere winds are swung to the right. And in the southern hemisphere winds are swung to the left, this is called the Coriolis Effect. A windsock is used to measure the wind speed and direction. A weather vane can also be used to determine the wind’s direction.

Severe/Extreme weather conditions

Violent storms can be very dangerous, but as we discover more about the weather it becomes easier to forecast violent storms to avoid disasters. Some severe weather conditions are thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and avalanches. Some extreme weather conditions such as floods and droughts may also affect the weather in some areas.

Thunderstorms occasionally happen when the air is humid and warm. Clouds form in the sky and blustery winds start to blow, thunderstorms usually include lightning followed by thunder. Lightning and thunder happen at the same time, but you see thunder first because light travels faster than sound.

Tornadoes are long funnels of violently spiraling winds. They form on land when there is warm, moist air near the ground and cold, dry air above it. The Coriolis Effect helps the tornado spin faster, as well as jet streams when they pass over the top of the storm.

Weather forecast

Weather forecasting is the application of science and technology to predict the state of the atmosphere for a future time and a given location. The most straightforward way to predict the weather is to simply look out the window. However, for a more accurate weather forecast you need observational tools like radars, satellites and specially designed computers that will give you a clearer picture to the weather conditions.

Some weather symbols that are used in television forecast and maps:



Weather gods

Good harvests depends on good weather, early farmers who lived about 7,000 years ago thought gods ruled the weather. People today still pray for fine weather and good harvest.

The Rainbow God, the Kabi people of Australia worship a god called Dhakhan who is half snake and half fish. He appears as a rainbow in the sky when he moves from one hole to the next.

The Dragon Breath, the Chinese believed that dragons formed clouds with their breath and brought rain. The rain fell when the dragons walked over the clouds and storms raged when they fought.

Dancing in the Rain, the Hopi Indians of North America perform special rain dances, and pray to the gods through these dances to send them rain.


The father or founder of meteorology is considered to be Aristotle. His book “Meteorologica” written around 340 B.C was the first study of the atmosphere. Some of Aristotle’s ideas were accurate, like ideas about rain and hailstorms, others were not. Like many thinkers of his time, he believed that reason and logic could lead to the truth and he didn’t think it was necessary to observe the details of the natural world to understand it; that’s why he got some of his ideas proven wrong in later years.

As years went by, many centuries later natural philosophers realized that logic and speculation arguments alone couldn’t produce real understandings of the natural world. For them to understand things in the world around them, it was necessary for them to measure, record, and analyze. But at that time, the only things that could be measured were wind direction and rainfall. And it continued like that for years to come. Later around A.D 1600 the thermometer was invented, following that the barometer, which measures atmospheric pressure, came a few years later. Devices and gadgets for measuring wind speed, humidity, and other important qualities of the atmosphere continued to develop over the next two- hundred years. Scientists used all of these newly-created instruments to record the long term trends of the weather which are known as climate. However, they still didn’t understand the day to day or daily behavior of weather phenomenon like tornadoes, hurricanes, and thunderstorms.

Years continued to pass, by the mid- 1800s, meteorologists began to realize clouds, wind, and rain at a particular place are produced by large weather systems that grow and change as they move. However this information was not very useful as long as weather information couldn’t travel fast enough. The telegraph was later invented, allowing weather reports to be sent out instantly. Then they started to realize some of the weather patterns across the face of the earth. In the early 1900s, a group of Norwegian meteorologists began to study weather systems by applying basic laws of physics to the behavior of the atmosphere. There discovery or approach based on movements of huge warm and cold air masses and where they meet is the foundation of modern weather forecasting. In the 1940s, World War II brought great advances in the study of meteorology. Military land, sea, and air campaigns were highly dependent on weather over vast regions making its way from the North Pole to the South Pacific. Meteorology departments in universities grew rapidly as the military services sent cadets to be trained as weather officers. The military also supported scientific research on the weather and climate. During this period, technological developments such as the radar proved to be useful and valuable meteorological observing systems for both the military and studies dealing with meteorology.

Meteorologists continued to develop many more new tools and techniques, since World War II, for observing and studying the atmosphere. They developed numerical model sets of equations that represent atmospheric processes and run them on supercomputers to analyze and predict the behavior of the atmosphere on every scale from the formation of raindrops to the circulation of the atmosphere over earth. Meteorologists today use satellites to observe hurricanes; they probe the violent cores of thunderstorms with radar and high performance aircrafts and many more…

Instruments and equipment used in meteorology (alphabetically ordered)

-Anemometer, a device used for measuring wind speed

-Barograph, an aneroid barometer that records the barometric pressure over time and produces either a foil or paper chart called a barogram. http://www.weatherinstruments.us/barograph-636.jpghttp://images.google.com/url?source=imgres&ct=tbn&q=http://www.weatherinstruments.us/barograph-636.jpg&usg=AFQjCNG0OGeiHhvp9o1n1AGw0Yh1cSeAvg

-Barometer, an instrument used to measure atmospheric pressure using either water, mercury, or air

-Ceiling balloon, used to measure the height of the base of clouds during daylight.

-Ceiling projector, a device that is used to measure the height of the base of clouds.

-Ceilometer, a device that uses a laser or other light source to measure the height of the base of clouds.

-Dark adaptor goggles, clear red tinted plastic goggles used either for adapting the eyes to dark for night observation or to help identify clouds during bright sunshine or glare from snow.

-Disdrometer, an instrument used to measure the drop size, distribution, and velocity of falling hydrometeors.

-Field mill, an instrument used to measure the strength of electric fields I the atmosphere near thunderstorm clouds.

-Hygrometer, an instrument used to measure humidity.

-Ice Accretion Indicator, an L shaped piece of aluminum used to indicate the formation of ice, frost, or the presence of freezing rain.

-LIDAR, (Light Detection And Ranging) used in atmospheric physics that measures the properties of scattered light to find information about a distant target.

-Lightning detector, a device that detects lightning produced by thunderstorms.

-Nephelometer, an instrument used to measure suspended particulates in a liquid or gas, they are used to provide information on atmospheric visibility.

-Pyranometer, used to measure broadband solar irradiance.

-Radar, is a type of radar used to locate precipitation

-Radiosonde, an instrument used to measure various atmospheric parameters and transmits them into fixed receivers.

-Rain gauge, an instrument that gathers and measures the amount of liquid precipitation over a set period of time.

-Snow gauge, an instrument that gathers and measures the amount of solid precipitation over a set period of time.

-SODAR, (Sonic Detection And Ranging)an instrument that measures the scattering of sound waves by atmospheric turbulence.

-Solarimeter, a pyranometer used to measure combined direct and diffuse solar radiation.

-Sounding rocket, an instrument designed to take measurements and perform scientific experiments

-Stevenson screen, it shields instruments from precipitation and direct heat radiation while still allowing air to circulate freely.

– Sunshine recorders, devices used to indicate the amount of sunshine at a given location.http://images.google.com/url?source=imgres&ct=tbn&q=http://www.dreamstime.com/thermograph-hand-print-thumb7926563.jpg&usg=AFQjCNGEaKUm4OVQx7d9cDtva90zoyGqOw

-Thermograph, measures and records both temperature and humidityhttp://images.google.com/url?source=imgres&ct=tbn&q=http://www.johnsherman.com/rh/thermograph.jpg&usg=AFQjCNFZFUlyus7Uo5HE81MdF53cRidY1g



-Thermometer, a device that measures temperature

-Weather balloon, a high altitude balloon that carries instruments and uses a radiosonde to send back information on atmospheric pressure, temperature, and humidity

– Weather radar, is a type of radar used to locate precipitation, calculate its motion, estimate its type and forecast its future position and intensity.

– Weather vane, a movable device attached to an elevated object that shows the direction of the wind

– Windsock, a textile tube used to determine wind direction and wind speed

-Wind profiler, an equipment that uses SODAR or radar to detect wind direction and speed at different elevations.


More than 2,000 years ago, Greek philosophers looked at the sky and tried to understand what was happening there. Today, the ancient science of meteorology has grown and matured. It is at the cutting edge of research, seeking answers to basic questions about the world around us. Meteorologists today use satellites to observe hurricanes; they probe the violent cores of thunderstorms with radar and high performance aircrafts. They are working to further more develop applications that are crucially important to our lives and the lives of our children and the many more generations of grandchildren yet to come.


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