Weather: How It Works and Why It Matters

Weather: How It Works and Why It Matters

Weather: How It Works and Why It Matters

Weather: How It Works and Why It Matters


Scientists have delved deep into the smallest particles of matter and have extended their view to the far reaches of the universe, but still seem unable to predict the temperature five days hence. In this intriguing book, two scientists examine recent progress in the fields of meteorology and climatology. Amid colorful anecdotes of the Galapagos, Siberia, and places closer to home, they describe the earth's atmosphere, its origin and structure, and the forces that have shaped and continue to affect it. They explore temperature, pressure, and other properties of air and weather, including warm and cold fronts, highs and lows, clouds, trade winds, prevailing westerlies, and sky phenomena such as rainbows, halos, coronae, and sun dogs. The authors end with a discussion of the major threats to earth's atmosphere brought on by human activity, including global warming and ozone depletion, and argue that pure science -- not politics -- should dictate our policy responses.


We have not inherited the World from our ancestors, we have borrowed it from our children.


THE STORM INTENSIFIED THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT; from intermittent wind gusts it heaved itself into a raging turmoil. Off the east coast of the United States, no less than three low-pressure vortices, or lows, converged into a fury. The tide was high and the sea swept landward far beyond its normal range. The waves, whipped by hurricane-level winds, ripped at houses and high-rise buildings near the shore, tearing many of them to pieces in minutes. This storm had no equal.

Outside our suburban Philadelphia flat, the air pressure dropped. As the wind rushed past the outside wall, the consequence of a well-known natural law, the Bernoulli Theorem, set in. (This natural law has the same effect on an airplane wing; the resulting difference in pressure above and below the wing creates lift.) As the rising velocity of the air outside created a lower pressure, the pressure difference between the outside and inside wall surfaces of our building continued to build with the wind's velocity. The wind whined, its varied pitch a descant of parallel voices.

I heard a shattering crash. The bathroom window smashed out of the wall; glass, frame, casement and all went careening into the street. I was now part of the action as I scrambled to grab the papers blowing everywhere; some were even being sucked out through the jagged hole in the bathroom wall. Only much later in the night did this behemoth of a storm move out to sea and leave us in relative peace.

The storm of March 1962 was not a hurricane. Not at all. It did not form in the tropics and the season was wrong. But it behaved like a hurricane: It packed a hurricane's punch and caused extensive damage along the . . .

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