LET’S REVIEW: How Does Weather Work?
Andreas Klippe Comments January 27, 2020
Weather is a quintessential conversation topic. Whether you want to start a conversation or break the ice, weather will not let you down.
But what is weather? How does it work? It is so vital to daily life and to every living thing but it seems to be taken for granted. A lot of us only check the weather to see if we need an umbrella or a jacket. So let’s take a step back once again and review. We will check our understanding and rediscover what weather is and the science that goes behind it.
WHAT IS WEATHER?
Weather can be understood using what we already learned in primary school. You would have learned that the Earth tilts on its axis, this causes parts of the planet to receive more sunlight than others. Land and water masses on the other hand heat up in different speeds. These two facts mean that some places tend to become hotter than others.
You will have also learned in the physical sciences is that hot air rises and cold air goes down. So when parts of the planet are hotter than others, air from that hot area moves to the cooler locations. We experience this event as wind. But wind is not all weather is about, other factors like air pressure, humidity, and even the planet’s position relative to the sun cause differences in weather all throughout the world.
The Earth constantly tries to balance itself in this manner, creating the weather events like rain and storms, or dryness and droughts in specific regions. Patterns in weather also appear and is what we refer to as climate.
RAINDROPS KEEP FALLING ON MY HEAD
Of course humans have tried to control the weather, it’s the inspiration for science fiction. At most, we can only try to influence it. Cloud seeding is the primary example of this. Cloud seeding is done to encourage rain by releasing chemicals high up the atmosphere, and even this is not always successful.
As mentioned in our last Let’s Review on Climate Change, water vapor and clouds also have an effect on the global scale. Thick clouds have different effects depending on the time of day. During the day, clouds can reflect sunlight and heat away or out of the atmosphere. Clouds at night meanwhile keep in heat escaping from the ground or ocean. With this much effect on heat, you can see why water vapor is such an effective greenhouse gas.
Weather is so dynamic and it can give us so much clarity and insight. By learning the science behind weather, even in the most basic sense, we hope that we all realize that weather is not something that happens to us, but with us. We are part of the system that aspires for balance.
We’ll review more aspects of weather and climate in the future. To make sure you see them, sign up for the Flood Control Asia newsletter or like our Facebook page.