Weather – the status of the atmosphere

Explanation of weather (WX)

When we think of the weather, we think of the sun, rain, clouds, etc.  While that is correct, the topic goes deeper.  While the subject of WX may intimidate many, it is not as complicated as one might think.

Typical weather descriptions are hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or stormy, and clear or cloudy.

The majority of weather activity occurs in the troposphere, which is the lowest level of the atmosphere.  The highest level of the atmosphere is the stratosphere.

It is understood that “weather” refers to the temperature and precipitation activity, while “climate” refers to the atmospheric conditions over a while.  Typical conversations involving “weather” refer to the weather of the earth.

WX conditions are created by air pressure, temperature, and moisture differences of various locations.  In addition, weather conditions can occur due to the sun’s angle at any particular location.

The largest atmospheric circulations are created by the temperature difference between polar and tropical air: the Hadley Cell, Ferrel Cell, Polar Cell, and the jet stream.  Unstable jet stream flow is the cause of extraordinary cyclones in the mid-latitudes.

Over thousands of years, changes in the earth’s orbit can affect the amount/distribution of solar energy received by the earth, influencing long-term global climate change.

Higher altitudes are cooler than lower altitudes.  This is because the earth’s surface temperature differences cause pressure differences.  Most atmospheric heating is caused by contact with the earth’s surface, while radiative losses to space are typically constant.

Forecasting WX is applying science and technology to predict the atmosphere’s current and upcoming state.  Unfortunately, weather conditions are chaotic as one small change can trigger/cause significant changes to the system as a whole.

Evidence supports that human activities (agriculture, industry) have contributed to the change in WX patterns.

WX includes wind, clouds, rain, snow, fog, and dust storms.  We are familiar with less common weather conditions are tornadoes, hurricanes, typhoons, and ice storms.  WX does occur in the stratosphere, which again is the higher atmospheric level, and that weather can affect the WX in the lower atmospheric level known as the troposphere.

Most weather conditions are caused by air pressure, temperature, and moisture difference from place to place.  These differences usually occur at the sun’s angle at any particular location, which varies by latitude.  The further one lives from the tropics, the lower the sun angle is, causing these locations to be cooler.  The substantial difference between polar and tropical air temperatures increases the large-scale atmospheric circulation cells and the jet stream.

Weather in the mid-latitudes is caused by the jet stream’s instabilities, while different occurrences cause WX systems in the tropics.

Work in progress!

We monitor the national WX forecast provided by the National Weather Service and even aggregate WX.