Research Paper: Weather

Pages: 9 (2662 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 9  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Weather  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] Publications like the "Farmer's Almanac" attempted to do what Lavoisier predicted but a true scientific approach did not emerge until modern times (Geiger, 1818).

World wide concern for weather forecasting was initiated because of the severe damage that was suffered by the French fleet during the Crimean War (1853-56) (Royle, 2000). The damage caused the French fleet caused concern throughout the western world relative to weather forecasting and immediate attempts were made to increase weather awareness through the exchange of information via the use of a new telecommunication device: the telegraph.

The telegraph proved to be a valuable tool for meteorologists who were suddenly able to communicate with each other all over the world. Now through the old system of observation could be coordinated with the telegraph to relay information between different locations and warnings as to the existence and severity of weather could be exchanged within minutes where once it took days and months. Other technological improvements such as electricity, battery powered radios, and eventually airplanes increased the availability of information leading to a greater degree of accuracy.

Occurring simultaneously with these technological improvements was the development of a field of science known as thermodynamics. Thermodynamics, which involve the study of the energy exchanged between physical systems such as heat or work, had been studied for some time but it was not until the late nineteenth century that the results were applied to meteorology. Scientists involved in the field of thermodynamics such as Vilhelm and Jacob Bjerknes contributed formulas that had applications that could be used to forecast changes in weather conditions and meteorologists quickly grasped the opportunity (Lewis, 2007).

In the mid twentieth century Lavoisier's prediction of daily forecasts came true. The advent of new telecommunication devices and advances in science led to increased interest in weather and the relaying of information related to weather to the general public. Whereas in the early days of meteorology the primary concern was on observing and measuring the weather forecasting has become the main concern today. The media in its various forms has made weather forecasting a 24/7 activity with an entire television network dedicated to that purpose and as Lavoisier predicted it is now possible to predict the weather within one or two days ( and beyond) with reasonable certainty.

Forecasting has become the primary function of meteorology. The function of measuring the weather and examining its effects on our environment has been taken over by the science of climatology. Meteorology has developed to the point where it is responsible for forecasting and advising society has to what to expect as to weather conditions. In the United States this function has developed into a sophisticated industry that is heavily supported by the government.

The United States government established the National Weather Service by an act of Congress in 1870. Lacking the sophisticated equipment available today the agency was limited. Because it was originally placed under the direction of the War Department, the full extent of the Service's activities was to place military personnel at stations throughout the country and reporting back to Washington, D.C. with the results (Bradford, 2001). Full scale forecasting was at a minimum but it was a beginning.

From its humble beginnings the National Weather Service has grown to an organization that now has over 5,000 employees. It is now a civilian organization and has been incorporated into the larger National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. With its new technology and extensive organization the National Weather Service is capable of providing wide scale weather forecasting services that enables society to better prepare for pending weather problems.

The technology available today for meteorologists would be beyond the imagination of early meteorologists. Satellites, weather balloons, radar, and computer software make weather forecasting a much different operation than when rudimentary equipment like hygrometers, barometers and thermometers were all that was available. Still, even with all this technology, absolutely accurate forecasting is still not available.

The present radar system available for meteorologists is known as the Doppler System. The Doppler system utilizes microwave signals that enable forecasters to measure the velocity of storms as they approach and the amount of potential moisture contained therein. By being provided with this information forecasters are able to predict with far more certainty the severity of storms.

Satellite technology has also proven to be a valuable part of the modern meteorologist's forecasting tools (Stanley Q. Kidder, 1995). Used in conjunction with computer software that can use the satellite data to create hypothetical weather conditions forecasters are able to examine potential weather hazards before they occur. Satellites are also capable of providing information regarding infrared measurements of temperature and moisture in selected areas, snow cover, the development and size of ice fields, the movement of icebergs, deforestation, and drought conditions. All of this information can be updated almost instantly allowing meteorologists to remain current.

Despite the tremendous improvements and technological changes that are available to meteorologists today human beings and animals still lose their lives to the effects of adverse weather. Earthquakes, floods, mudslides, floods, tornadoes, and blizzards still occur. Science in general, and meteorologists specifically, may be better able to forecast what is to occur but they are still not able to control the weather so as to avoid them.

Concern over the weather was once a localized problem. Over the years, however, it has developed from being a local concern to being a national concern and now, because of the process of globalization, it has become an international concern. Modern telecommunications, modern technology, and the internet have made the exchange of information instantaneous and now weather alerts, atmospheric conditions, and moment by moment climate changes can be relayed all over the world. Meteorology has become an international process and this can only serve to make the forecasting more expedient and efficient. Whether these developments will ever affect our ability to control the weather remains to be seen but it surely has allowed society to be better prepared for the weather that can be foreseen.

In a field that has been altered substantially by technological advances future changes can be anticipated. What those changes may be or how they will affect our lives remains a mystery.

Bibliography

Bradford, M. (2001). Scanning the Skies: A History of Tornado Forecasting. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.

Doak, R.S. (2005). Galileo: Astronomer and Physicist. Mankanto, MN: Compass Point Books.

Frisinger, H.H. (1973). Aristotle's Legacy in Meteorology. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 198-204.

Geiger, P. (1818). Farmers Almanac. Lewiston, ME: Almanac Publishing Company.

Jacobson, M.Z. (2005). Fundamentals of Atmospheric Modeling 2nd ed. . New York: Cambridge University Press.

Lewis, C.J. (2007). Heat and Thermodynamics: A Historical Perspective. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood.

Poirier, J.P. (1996). Antoine-Laurent de Laviisier. Retrieved February 21, 2011, from History of Science: http://historyofscience.free.fr/Lavoisier-Friends/a_chap1_lavoisier.html

Royle, T. (2000). Crimea: The Great Crimean War, 1854-1856. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Stanley Q. Kidder, T.H. (1995). Satellite Meteorology: An Introduction.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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