Weather For Dummies
eBook - ePub

Weather For Dummies

John D. Cox

Share book
  1. English
  2. ePUB (mobile friendly)
  3. Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

Weather For Dummies

John D. Cox

Book details
Book preview
Table of contents

About This Book

What in the world is going on up there?

Look up! It's a bird; it's a plane; it's a Polar mesosphericcloud!When you look to the sky, do youwonder whythe Sun is so bright or why the clouds are whiteor whythe sky is blue?Then, WeatherForDummies is yourresourcetofuel your curiosity about the weather. Ittakes you on anexciting journey through the Earth's atmosphereand theways it behaves. You'll get an overview ofrain, Sun, clouds, stormsandother phenomena.

With helpfulphotographs and illustrations, you caneasily visualizedifferentweathertypesandrelatethem intothe world around you.The scientific words and phrases are explained in detail(what is barometric pressure?), your curious questions are answered (why do we have seasons?), andthe roots ofweather myths, proverbs, and sayings arerevealed("early thunder, early spring").

  • Discover how weatherforecastsare made, and what constitutes a weather emergency
  • Find out what causes change in weather, such ashow air pressure drives winds
  • Learn how climate changeis affecting today'sweather
  • Discoverhow light plays tricks on our eyes to create effects like rainbows, sun dogs, and halos
  • Have fun with at-home weather experiments, including setting up your own weather station

Perfect for any weather amateur, you can have your head in the cloudswhileyour feetareon the ground.Next time you're outside, take WeatherForDummies along with you, look at the sky, and discover something new about the environment you live in.

Frequently asked questions

How do I cancel my subscription?
Simply head over to the account section in settings and click on “Cancel Subscription” - it’s as simple as that. After you cancel, your membership will stay active for the remainder of the time you’ve paid for. Learn more here.
Can/how do I download books?
At the moment all of our mobile-responsive ePub books are available to download via the app. Most of our PDFs are also available to download and we're working on making the final remaining ones downloadable now. Learn more here.
What is the difference between the pricing plans?
Both plans give you full access to the library and all of Perlego’s features. The only differences are the price and subscription period: With the annual plan you’ll save around 30% compared to 12 months on the monthly plan.
What is Perlego?
We are an online textbook subscription service, where you can get access to an entire online library for less than the price of a single book per month. With over 1 million books across 1000+ topics, we’ve got you covered! Learn more here.
Do you support text-to-speech?
Look out for the read-aloud symbol on your next book to see if you can listen to it. The read-aloud tool reads text aloud for you, highlighting the text as it is being read. You can pause it, speed it up and slow it down. Learn more here.
Is Weather For Dummies an online PDF/ePUB?
Yes, you can access Weather For Dummies by John D. Cox in PDF and/or ePUB format, as well as other popular books in Physical Sciences & Meteorology & Climatology. We have over one million books available in our catalogue for you to explore.


For Dummies
Part 1

What’s Going On Up There?

Discover weather science’s most popular finished product: the daily weather forecast. See what goes into making state-of-the-art accurate forecasts and understanding how to interpret them.
Wrap your mind around weather words — precipitation, temperature, humidity, highs and low, wind chill, among others — and what they mean in your local forecast.
Find out about the things that make the atmosphere and its weather the way it is — so changeable — here today, gone tomorrow, as the saying goes.
Find the answer to the question, “What is fog, exactly?” as well as how the oceans and the land masses affect your weather.
Chapter 1

What in the World Is Weather?

Looking at our imperfect planet
Exploring the weather forecast
Hanging with the weather celebrities
Earth is not a perfect planet. (It may well be that none of them are, but, you know, who are we to say?) It is not perfectly round, for one thing. One half of it has a lot of land with mountains and valleys, the other half, not so much. It circulates (once a year) around the Sun, its energy-supplying star, but the path it takes is not perfectly circular either. It is not perfectly upright, for another thing, the way you might expect a perfect planet to be. In relation to the Sun, it is seriously akilter, spinning (once a day) on a 23-degree tilt, as if it has been knocked over by something. On top of everything is the atmosphere, this brew of nitrogen and oxygen and other gases that make up the air we breathe. This ocean of air swirls along like the planet itself — but not perfectly.
All these imperfections create imbalances of heat and cold, wet and dry that keep the atmosphere in motion, like a soft body squirming in a hard seat. These motions of an uncomfortable atmosphere always looking for balanced perfection — this squirming, that’s what we call weather. It doesn’t just make life interesting, by the way; it supplies our fresh air and our fresh water. It makes life possible.
In this chapter, I give you a quick survey of the subject of meteorology — weather science — and where in Weather For Dummies you can find more information about each topic. Beginning with the product we encounter every day and moving on to explore how the atmosphere’s changing chemical composition is hitting the ground, let’s take a look at what’s in store.

The Daily Forecast: A Scientific Marvel

Weather For Dummies begins with weather science’s most popular finished product: the daily forecast. Without all the numbers and equations, the first part of the book describes what goes into making a forecast and understanding what it means. It lays out the terms that apply and the circumstances that make up weather emergencies.
Before we get into the details of the weather science behind it in Chapter 2, though, take a closer look at the next televised weather forecast you see. You will probably see a sharp, full-color image of half the Earth, captured in real time by a satellite that is constantly hovering 22,300 miles above the planet. You will see great arms and swirls of clouds crawling across the landscape, the signatures of storms. Even without explanation, you can see where the storms have been and surmise where they are going.
This is a uniquely modern experience. Nobody before us has ever witnessed a more helpful or accurate prediction of the future behavior of the atmosphere. This short, precise presentation is an honest-to-goodness scientific marvel, the result of many years of demanding research and incredible expense.
They make it look slick and easy on TV, of course — the smoothly moving images, the colorful animations driven by extremely high-powered computer models — but before that forecast got to the television studio, a lot of hard-knuckle science went into creating it. And hard-knuckle life. In 19th-century England, the first man to issue a weather forecast, Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy, an English officer in the Royal Navy, was pleading the case for so many sailors lost at sea. He didn’t succeed, but he died trying, and he left behind the popular idea that weather services are a government obligation.
The scientific knowledge that made modern forecasting possible did not come easily over the years. Earth does not very willingly give up her big secrets. During World War I, the young Englishman Louis Fry Richardson, a brilliant mathematician, described his impossible dream of a “forecast factory” — a multi-layered, gridded theoretical “atmosphere” tended by hundreds of individuals sharing data with others attending adjacent blocks of air. During World War II, a stable of brilliant scientists built the first electronic computer that was actually capable of such an ingenious, enormously complex undertaking. So, in the 1950s, began the new computer-driven era of “numerical weather prediction” and it changed everything.
The advent of weather satellites in the 1960s made visually obvious to everyone what research meteorologists had been grappling with all along: weather’s natural enormity — the truly planetary scale of the problems they were trying to solve. (Chapter 16 delves into the forecasting work of satellites and other tools in the weather forecaster’s toolbox.)

What Causes Weather?

So why is there weather? What basic forms does it take? Chapter 3 is where you find the answers to these questions. Sometimes it helps to think of the atmosphere as a blanket that has been thrown over the planet. The blanket’s surface is not entirely smooth. There are ridges and folds and bumps and dips here and there. This is where storms are, in these imperfections. Chapter 3 explains why there are storms and Chapter 4 describes precipitation in all its shapes and sizes. Here you get the idea of different air masses meeting along fronts like opposing armies.

The Weather Celebrities

Weather is a very popular subject when there are big storms brewing or when things like summer temperatures are getting to be extreme. These are the weather celebrities that get all the media attention: tornadoes, heatwaves, ice storms. In Part 2, you find a chapter devoted to hurricanes, perhaps the biggest weather celebrity of all.
But behind every storm and every heatwave and every cold snap is a cast of characters that are responsible for the whole production. They make the winds blow. They form the clouds. Chapter 5 answers the question, “why all this wind?” and explains how air pressure is the cause. In Chapter 6, you pick up a little Latin: cirrus, stratus, cumulus, nimbus. Can you tell one type of cloud from another? This chapter also gives you the lowdown on all forms of clouds and how you can tell if there’s rain on the way or something a bit more sinister brewing. And there are two pages of color photographs in this book devoted to the basic cloud types that are spelled out in this part.

It’s Seasonal

If you live in the same part of the world very long, eventually you get fairly set in your ways about what to expect of the different seasons through the year. Winter, spring, summer, and fall have certain personalities, certain kinds of storms, certain ranges of temperature. And fair weather has a different feel to it from one season to the next.
Part 3 is organized around this general idea about different seasons coming in different varieties of weather. It begins with the big storms of winter, focuses on the tornadoes of spring and the thunderstorms and temperature extremes of summer, and it takes a good look at hurricanes that reach their seasonal peak in autumn. It is helpful as far as it goes, this way of organizing our thoughts, but it’s worth remembering that every region of the globe has its own variety of seasons.
The seasons don’t really “arrive” at the same time and in the same place around the world, and they don’t really act quite the same everywhere. Winter in the Northern Hemisphere is summertime in the Southern Hemisphere. The closer you live to the Equator, the less pronounced are the seasonal differences, although still there are wet seasons and dry seasons. Likewise, the polar regions, above 60 degrees north or south latitude, get only cool, glancing visits from the Sun all year long. Only the middle latitudes, north and south, get the full effects of the seasons.
But it’s not just latitude, you know, your distance from the Equator, that shapes the seasons. Early New England settlers learned that the hard way, having left England expecting to land in a climate akin to the south of France. As it happens, Sacramento, California, has the same latitude as Washington, D.C., on the other side of the continent, yet all their seasons are v...

Table of contents