Chapter 1 - Chapter 1 Introduction to the Atmosphere...

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Chapter 1- Introduction to the Atmosphere Meteorology, Weather, and Climate Meteorology is the scientific study of the atmosphere and the phenomena that we usually refer to as weather. Meteorology is considered one of the earth sciences. Acted on by the combined effects of Earth’s motions and energy from the Sun, our planet’s formless and invisible envelope of air reacts by producing an infinite variety of weather, which in turn creates the basic pattern of global climates. Weather is constantly changing. It is a term that refers to the state of the atmosphere at a given time and place. Climate is generalized variations of weather. It is based on observations that have been accumulated over many decades. Climate is often defined simply as “average weather,” but this is an inadequate definition. In order to more accurately portray the character of an area, variation and extremes must also be included, as well as the probabilities that such departures will take place. For example, it is not only necessary for farmers to know the average rainfall during the growing season, but it is also important to know the frequency of extremely wet and extremely dry years. Thus, climate is the sum of all statistical weather information that helps describe a place or region. Climate data cannot predict the weather: “Climate is what you expect, but weather is what you get.” The nature of both weather and climate is expressed in terms of the same basic elements, those quantities or properties that are measured regularly. The most important elements are: o The temperature of the air o The humidity of the air o The type and amount of cloudiness o The type and amount of precipitation o The pressure exerted by the air o The speed and direction of the wind Atmospheric Hazards: Assault by the Elements Natural hazards are a part of living on Earth. A great number of these hazards are related to the atmosphere. o The four hurricanes that struck the US in August and September 2004 collectively caused more than 40 billion in damages and 152 deaths. These figures were surpassed when Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. The final accounting may approach 300 billion, with more than 1300 deaths. Some other atmospheric hazards that aversely affect us are blizzards, hail, and freezing rain. Others are not the direct result of a storm. Heat waves, cold waves, and drought are important examples. The Nature of Scientific Inquiry All science is based on the assumption that the natural world behaves in a consistent and predictable manner that is comprehensible through careful,
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systematic study. The overall goal of science is to discover the underlying patterns in nature and then to use this knowledge to make predictions about what should or should not be expected, given certain facts or circumstances. To determine what is occurring in the natural world, scientists collect scientific
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This note was uploaded on 05/03/2008 for the course AER 118 taught by Professor Schroder during the Spring '08 term at Miami University.

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Chapter 1 - Chapter 1 Introduction to the Atmosphere...

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