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The Science of Weather Forecasting

The great Greek scientist, Aristotle was the first person to try and forecast weather without attributing it to the Gods. According to him fire, earth, water and air interacted with each other to cause the weather. He believed that the sun drew a cool, moist substance from water, and a hot dry substance like fire from the earth. Together, they formed the air, and as the temperature of the air changed, snow, rain, frost and dew were formed. Aristotle’s explanation for thunder was that when a cloud cooled, it threw out a powerful wind, and thunder is the sound made by the wind as it hit the other nearby clouds.

The Crimean War was fought between Imperial Russia and an union of British, France, the Kingdom of Sardinia and the Ottoman Empire. After a violent storm which did considerable damage to both the English and French fleets, the commissioner Napoleon III commissioned the astronomer Le Verrier, to organize a system of weather forecasting. About the same time, England and United States became interested in collecting weather reports for the benefit of shipping. Within a few years, meteorological offices were set up in these and other countries.

Modern meteorologists use a large number of instruments to measure the state of the atmosphere, and the most important of these are weather satellites that orbit the earth. The use of radar and weather balloons also play an important part in determining the type of precipitation, snow or hail that an area can expect. Ships at sea, radio signals from weather buoys drifting in the ocean, and observations made at land weather stations all help in giving meteorologists an overall picture of prevailing weather conditions in different parts of the world.

Weather forecasts are of great importance to all of us, but especially to farmers, pilots, and sailors, for their prosperity and even their lives, depend on the weather! If a farmer knows that it is going to rain then he can delay the sprinkling of insecticides on his crops, because otherwise the rain will wash them away and he will lose money, pilots can delay take off if the weather is hostile and ships at sea depend on weather forecasts for their safety too. The earlier we are warned about a change in weather conditions, the better prepared we can be to meet any problems that may arise.

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