Ways of the Weather: A Cultural Survey of Meteorology

Ways of the Weather: A Cultural Survey of Meteorology

Ways of the Weather: A Cultural Survey of Meteorology

Ways of the Weather: A Cultural Survey of Meteorology

Excerpt

As explained in the previous chapter, and as we all know without being told, it is our perceptions of the weather that both enable and compel every one to take a personal interest in it. And yet we can not go very far with perceptions alone in comparing the weather of one day with that of another, or the weather of one place with that of any other place. With respect to temperature, for instance, we may use such comparative expressions as cold, cool, comfortable, warm, hot; and that is about all. And even these few gradations are uncertain, for when the air is cool to one person it may be cold another; nor can either say with any assurance when it ceases to be cool and begins to be cold. And the situation is worse for most of the other weather elements. In fact, for some of them, such as atmospheric pressure and electrical state, we have no distinct perceptions at all. However, every weather element affects inanimate objects and in such manner that measurements of almost any desired degree of refinement are easily made and recorded, measurements, or instrumental readings, that are of great and increasing importance in the industries, that are the data from which weather forecasts are deduced, and that at the end of a few years' accumulation give us reliable knowledge of the climate of the place at which they were obtained.

Early beginnings. No measurements of this kind were made in ancient times, except crude estimates here and there of the direction of the wind, and equally crude measurements of the amount of rainfall as indicated by the catch in certain exposed vessels. Both those very obvious and simple measurements have been made from time to time and at one place or another during the last 2000 years, and perhaps much longer. But no other weather element was measured--there . . .

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