Understanding Weather and Climate 7E
The atmosphere is the most dynamic of all Earth’s spheres. In no other realm do events routinely unfold so quickly, with so great a potential impact on humans. Some of the most striking atmospheric disturbances (such as tornadoes) can take place over time scales on the order of minutes—but nevertheless have permanent consequences. Events such as the California drought, which began in 2011 and showed no signs of abatement by mid-2014, take longer, but can have much more widespread effects. Water levels have dropped precipitously in reservoirs, the state’s huge agricultural industry has been severely impacted, water allocations have been reduced, and many areas have been threatened by unusually dangerous wildfires. While catastrophes such as this are momentous, even the most mundane of atmospheric phenomena influence our lives on a daily basis (for instance, the beauty of blue skies or red sunsets, rain, or the daily cycle of temperature).
Atmospheric processes, despite their immediacy on a personal level and their importance in human affairs on a larger level, are not readily understood by most people. This is probably not surprising, given that the atmosphere consists primarily of invisible gases, along with suspended, frequently microscopic particles, water droplets, and ice crystals.
Understanding Weather and Climate is a college-level text intended for both science majors and nonmajors taking their first course in atmospheric science. We have attempted to write a text that is informative, timely, engaging to students, and easily used by professors. In this book, our overriding goal is to bridge the gap between abstract explanatory processes and the expression of those processes in everyday events. We have written the book so that students with little or no science background will be able to build a nonmathematical understanding of the atmosphere.
That said, we do not propose to abandon the foundations of physical science. We know from our own teaching experience that physical laws and principles can be mastered by students of widely varying backgrounds. In addition, we believe one of meteorology’s great advantages is that reasoning from fundamental principles explains so much of the field. Compared to some other disciplines, this is one in which there is an enormous payoff for mastering a relatively small number of basic ideas.
Finally, our experience is that students are always excited to learn the “why” of things, and to do so gives real meaning to “what” and “where.” For us, therefore, the idea of forsaking explanation in favor of a purely descriptive approach has no appeal whatsoever. Rather, we propose merely to replace mathematical proof (corroboration by formal argument) with qualitative reasoning and appeal to everyday occurrences. As the title implies, the goal remains understanding atmospheric behavior.
PART ONE Energy and Mass 2
1 Composition and Structure of the Atmosphere 4
2 Solar Radiation and the Seasons 32
3 Energy Balance and Temperature 54
4 Atmospheric Pressure and Wind 90
PART TWO Water in the Atmosphere 120
5 Atmospheric Moisture 122
6 Cloud Development and Forms 160
7 Precipitation Processes 190
PART THREE Distribution and Movement of Air 214
8 Atmospheric Circulation and Pressure Distributions 216
9 Air Masses and Fronts 262
PART FOUR Disturbances 286
10 Midlatitude Cyclones 288
11 Lightning, Thunder, and Tornadoes 314
12 Tropical Storms and Hurricanes 354
PART FIVE Weather Forecasting and Human
Impacts on the Atmosphere 390
13 Weather Forecasting and Analysis 392
14 Human Effects on the Atmosphere 422
PART SIX Current, Past, and Future Climates 444
15 Earth’s Climates 446
16 Climate Changes: Past and Future 474
PART seven Atmospheric Optics
and Appendices 514
17 Atmospheric Optics 516
Appendix A Units of Measurement and Conversions 528
Appendix B The Standard Atmosphere 529
Appendix C Simplified Weather Map Symbols 530
Appendix D Weather Extremes 534
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