Weather – status of the atmosphere

Explanation of weather

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

Weather - status of the atmosphere - Explanation of weather
Weather – status of the atmosphere – Explanation of weather (Picture property of St. Louis Media, LLC d.b.a. STL.News. Picture taken between St. Charles and Chesterfield during the eclipse of August 21, 2017)

Typical descriptions of weather are, hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or stormy and clear and 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” is referring to the atmospheric conditions over a period of time.  Typical conversations involving “weather” refers to the weather of earth.

Weather conditions are created by air pressure, temperature, and moisture differences of various locations.  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 are the cause of extraordinary cyclones in the mid-latitudes.

Changes in the earth’s orbit over thousands of years can affect the amount/distribution of solar energy received by the earth, which influences the long-term global climate change.

Higher altitudes are cooler than lower altitudes.  The earths 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 weather is the application of science and technology used to predict the current and upcoming state of the atmosphere at various locations.  Weather conditions are chaotic as one small change can trigger/cause major changes to the system as a whole.

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

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

Most weather conditions are caused by air pressure, temperature and the difference in moisture from place to place.  These differences usually occur to the angle of the sun 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 temperatures polar and tropical air increases the large scale atmospheric circulation cells and the jet stream.

Weather in the mid-latitudes are caused by instabilities of the jet stream while weather systems in the tropics are caused by different occurrences.

Work in progress

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