Being able to predict tomorrow’s weather is one of the most challenging and frequently requested bits of information to provide. Do you need a coat tomorrow? Will soccer practice be canceled? Will the crops freeze tonight?
Scientists use different instruments to record the current weather conditions, like temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed, humidity, etc. The real work comes in when they spend time looking over their data over days, months, even years and search for patterns.
But where does the weather station get its weather from?
One of the greatest leaps in meteorology was using numbers to predict the flow of the atmosphere. The math equations needed for these (using fluid dynamics and thermodynamics) are enough to make even a graduate student quiver with fear. Even today’s most powerful computers cannot solve these complex equations! The best they can do is make a guess at the solution and then adjust it until it fits well enough in a given range. How do the computers know what to guess?
Several weather stations around the world work together to report the current weather every hour. These stations can be land-based, mounted on buoys in the ocean, or launched on radiosondes and report back to a home station as they rise through the different layers of the atmosphere. Pilots will also give weather reports en route to their destination, which get recorded and added to the database of weather knowledge.
We’re going to build our own homemade weather station and start keeping track of weather right in your own home town. By keeping a written record (even if it’s just pen marks on the wall), you’ll be able to see how the weather changes and even predict what it will do, once you get the hang of the pattern in your local area. For example, if you live in Florida, what happens to the pressure before the daily afternoon thunderstorm? Or if you live in the deserts of Arizona, what does a sudden increase in humidity tell you?
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