I wish to thank the following people for their assistance in producing this book: Chris Burt for his expertise as a professional meteorologist in reviewing the facts and figures presented in these pages; Larry Baker for his amazing skills as an indexer; Amy Marcaccio Keyser for proofreading the manuscript; Marco Di Vita for typesetting; Mary Claire Krzewinski for her page designs and cover art; and VIP publisher Roger Janecke for giving me the opportunity to write it all down.
TERMS TO KNOW
What is weather?
Weather is defined as the state of the atmosphere at a given location and over a relatively short period of time.
What factors affect the weather?
It has been said that a butterfly flapping its delicate wings in China will set off a series of events that will eventually result in a hurricane in the Gulf Coast. Weather is extremely complex, so much so that weather forecasting is a highly speculative profession. Some people joke that being a weather broadcaster is the only job you can find where you can be wrong half the time and still stay employed. Weather is affected by temperature, atmospheric composition, land formations, radiation, plate tectonics, geothermic energy, solar winds, biological processes from plants and animals, pollution, and more. All of these factors are considered in this book.
What is meteorology?
Meteorology is the scientific study of the weather and, more specifically, how changes in the weather may be forecasted.
What is hydrology?
Hydrology is the scientific study of Earth's water supplies, how they are distributed, and how they move and change. Hydrologists are people concerned with water resources, and their work has applications ranging from civil engineering and city planning to environmentalism and conservation.
What, then, is hydrometeorology?
Hydrometeorology is an eight-syllable word meaning the study of the exchange of water between the lower atmosphere and the land below it.
What is climatology?
Climatology is the study of the world's climates and how they are changing over time.
What is bioclimatology?
Bioclimatology is the study of the effects of the climate on living things. Weather and atmospheric conditions can affect humans in many ways, both positive and negative. Our climate affects our moods, the chemical content of our bodies, the chances of getting a disease, and more. In Europe, awareness of the importance of bioclimatology has resulted in weather forecasts that include warnings of possible health hazards. The United States has not kept up with this pace, but meteorologists in America do often warn of such hazards as air pollution and allergen levels, as well as temperature extremes that might be dangerous because of frostbite or heat stroke.
What is atmospheric chemistry?
As the name implies, this is the discipline dealing with how gases and other chemicals and particulates in the atmosphere interact with each other, such as with the formation and destruction of ozone, both in the upper atmosphere and as a ground-dwelling pollutant. Atmospheric chemistry is a very complex science, as the composition of the atmosphere is in constant flux. Content is constantly being introduced from the ground; winds continually shift and flow; and radiation from space interacts with the atmosphere as well. Meteorologists specializing in this field have to understand geology, biology, and industrial pollutants (literally, millions of different industrial chemicals entering the atmosphere daily), among other chemical processes. There is considerable work to be done in atmospheric chemistry, as much of what happens in the atmosphere at a chemical level is little understood.