Meteorology is the scientific study of the physics, chemistry and movements of the atmosphere and its interaction with the surface of the Earth. Most weather phenomena occur in the troposphere, the lowest layer of the earth’s atmosphere, which reaches to a maximum of around 16 km, and the stratosphere, which reaches to about 50 km. These are the regions on which meteorology chiefly focuses and where attention is paid for weather forecasting. The prediction of likely weather conditions over a period involve a combination of computer models, observation and experience of analyzing trends and patterns. Short-term forecasts usually cover a period of 24 hours and medium-range forecasts 3 to 6 days. Long-range forecasts cover periods of 15 to 30 days but are considerably less accurate.
Weather satellites are used primarily to monitor the Earth’s weather and climatic conditions. Polar-orbiting satellites orbit our planet, passing over the poles and circling at an altitude of around 800 km. Geostationary satellites remain on the same spot above the equator by moving at the speed of the Earth’s rotation and orbit at an altitude of around 36,000 km. Images from geostationary satellites are used by the media for presenting weather forecasts. These weather satellites also assist in monitoring fires and smoke, pollution, snow, ice, ocean currents and other environmental information including volcanic ash clouds and activity.
Weather presenters are seen so often on television that it’s hardly surprising that many have fan clubs and receive fan mail. Whatever the weather, their appearance always brightens up someone’s day.
What a lovely day!
The weather is a strange phenomenon, not just for its unpredictability but also for its ability to always offer a subject for conversation and an opening remark to a total stranger. The British are masters of the art – it may be pouring with rain but you’re still likely to hear – “What a lovely day!” said with an ironic smile.