Today is 23rd March 2019. It is observed as “World Meteorological Day”. Meteorology in layman’s terms is called “atmospheric science”. It is a rather a interdisciplinary subject involving atmospheric physics, atmospheric chemistry, hydrology and mathematical modeling.
Brief history of Meteorology
In 1851, the Austrian emperor approved the establishment for an institution for the study of atmospheric sciences and earth magnetism “Central institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics. It is located in Vienna and other branches in Salzburg, Innsbruck, Graz and Klagenfuhrt. It is the world’s oldest meteorological centre. It not only monitors the weather but seismic movements. It was mentored by the top scientists from Austrian Academy of sciences. In 1873, it conducted the International Meteorological congress which laid the blueprint for the today’s World Meteorological Organization.
By the year 1877, the ZARN had 60 weather observation centers in Europe and started publishing weather reports in daily newspapers. As time passed, many scientists from various fields got interested in the subject of Meteorology and started doing research and publishing journals and books. Dr. Kriel, Felix Maria Von Exner, Max Margules contributed much into the study of the subject. Many books were written; Dynamic Metrology, Theoretical Meteorology were few of them. These thoughts captured in the books became the foundation for modern day meteorology.
Uses of Meteorology in the modern day
Meteorology is not confined to forecasting weather. It studies climate and climate change, weather patterns in the long term and seismic movements and volcanic eruptions, effect of celestial beings like sun and the moon on earth.
Sun is the closest star to earth and has the greatest influence on the planetary weather patterns. It has a huge mass and hence a huge magnetic field which keeps the earth in its orbit. The solar radiation warms the planet, but not equally. This unequal warming of the earth due to its tilt and uneven geography and due to its elliptical orbit creates changes in weather, changes seasons and set the climatic trends.
The uneven heating of the earth’s surface creates variances in temperatures and helps evaporation from the water bodies to create clouds. It creates convection currents and precipitation. It currents are the source of extreme turbulence in the atmosphere, which are known a storms. Storms are very destruction and disruptive forces.
Storms are needed to be forecasted for the sake of safety for the airlines, shipping, military, public administration, and tourists. Storms are accompanied with thunder and lightning and followed by precipitation, that is rainfall. The forecast has always helped people to avoid certain places, or certain routes or certain schedules.
Agriculture is one activity that is ruled by weather and climatic changes. Extreme heat and extreme cold, extreme dryness could spell disaster on agriculture. Weather patterns if forecasted could be useful to take the required steps to irrigate in time of dryness and heat, make way for drainage if there is extreme precipitation.
Health alerts are based on weather reports. Many people die due to extreme cold in India or extreme heat in Northern India and Western India. Heat alerts come handy when asking people to take steps to prevent sun strokes or cold shocks. In the humidity, many viral diseases break out. The weather office forecasts the stretch of hot and humid spell thereby making the health department prepared with the required anti-virals for any outbreak of any disease.
Climatic Change is the buzz word of every politician and policy maker. Melting ice caps, melting glaciers are due to global warming. The pollution caused by suspended particulate matter helped to trap more sunlight heat and did not allow the heat to escape. The green house is the consequence of rapid industrialization and urbanization. Satellite pictures from the meteorological institute help people to be warned about the climate change and the grave consequences of rising sea level and lack of rainfall.
Moon also plays an important role in influencing the earth’s water bodies. The tides are dependent on the moon’s rotation around the earth. Tides forecasted helps in coastal shipping and plan the movement of barges into the riverine region when the water level rises. The eclipses be it be solar or lunar are also forecasted but only have religious values.
Earthquakes are the greatest killers. Even the best meteorological instruments cannot the exact time for an earthquake or a tidal wave. However, efforts are still on to try to forecast an earthquake.
“ Sun, the earth, the weather” – the theme for 2019.
Rightly chosen two main factors of our survival. The sun is the source of energy , it is source of life on earth and the weather help to allow the earth be warmed and then cooled as per the weather and seasonal cycle. It helps to the moisten, inundate the land and also to dry up the earth. The Sun and the effect on weather and the climate on earth help life on this planet to survive. A better understanding such linkages will go into adopting better survival techniques in the present and in the future.