Weather Science

Brian Clegg


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Icon Books
18 July 2024
ISBN: 9781837731534
192 pages

From the publisher

Everyone has an interest in the weather, whether it's to check the prospects for a day out or to know when best to harvest a crop. The Earth's weather systems also provide some of the most dramatic forces of nature, from the vast release of energy in a lightning flash to the devastating impact of tornadoes and hurricanes. For centuries, our only real guide to future weather was folklore, but with the introduction of the first weather forecasts and maps in Victorian times, attempts were made to give some warning of the weather to come.

Until relatively recently, these forecasts could be wildly inaccurate - think of Michael Fish's denial that there was a storm on the way the night before the UK's great storm of 1987. This was due to the mathematically chaotic nature of weather systems, first discovered in the 1960s, the understanding of which would transform forecasting from the 1990s and mean that meteorologists became some of the foremost users of supercomputers. From the crystalline perfection of the snowflake to the transfer of energy from the Sun, science lies at the heart of the weather and our understanding of it.

In recent years, weather science has moved to the leading edge with advanced modelling, versatile use of satellite data and a better understanding of mathematical chaos. This is a true example of hot science at work.