Timeline of meteorology

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The timeline of meteorology contains events of scientific and technological advancements in the area of atmospheric sciences. The most notable advancements in observational meteorology, weather forecasting, climatology, atmospheric chemistry, and atmospheric physics are listed chronologically. Some historical weather events are included that mark time periods where advancements were made, or even that sparked policy change.



Although the term meteorology is used today to describe a subdiscipline of the atmospheric sciences, Aristotle's work is more general. Meteorologica is based on intuition and simple observation, but not on what is now considered the scientific method. In his own words:
...all the affections we may call common to air and water, and the kinds and parts of the earth and the affections of its parts. [4]
The magazine De Mundo (attributed to Pseudo-Aristotle) notes: [5]
Cloud is a vaporous mass, concentrated and producing water. Rain is produced from the compression of a closely condensed cloud, varying according to the pressure exerted on the cloud; when the pressure is slight it scatters gentle drops; when it is great it produces a more violent fall, and we call this a shower, being heavier than ordinary rain, and forming continuous masses of water falling over earth. Snow is produced by the breaking up of condensed clouds, the cleavage taking place before the change into water; it is the process of cleavage which causes its resemblance to foam and its intense whiteness, while the cause of its coldness is the congelation of the moisture in it before it is dispersed or rarefied. When snow is violent and falls heavily we call it a blizzard. Hail is produced when snow becomes densified and acquires impetus for a swifter fall from its close mass; the weight becomes greater and the fall more violent in proportion to the size of the broken fragments of cloud. Such then are the phenomena which occur as the result of moist exhalation.
One of the most impressive achievements in Meteorology is his description of what is now known as the hydrologic cycle:
Now the sun, moving as it does, sets up processes of change and becoming and decay, and by its agency the finest and sweetest water is every day carried up and is dissolved into vapour and rises to the upper region, where it is condensed again by the cold and so returns to the earth. [4]
Aristotle Bust of Aristotle.jpg
As to this coming of rain from the mountains, some hold that the clouds carry the rain with them, dispersing as it is precipitated (and they are right). Clouds and rain are really the same thing. Water evaporating upwards becomes clouds, which condense into rain, or still further into dew. [7]

Middle Ages

Anemometers Anemometers.png
– Nicolas Cryfts, (Nicolas of Cusa), described the first hair hygrometer to measure humidity. The design was drawn by Leonardo da Vinci, referencing Cryfts design in da Vinci's Codex Atlanticus . [22]

17th century

Galileo. Galileo Galilei by Ottavio Leoni Marucelliana (cropped).jpg
Sir Francis Bacon Francis Bacon.jpg
Sir Francis Bacon
Blaise Pascal. Blaise pascal.jpg
Blaise Pascal.
– Edmund Halley establishes the relationship between barometric pressure and height above sea level. [35]

18th century

Global circulation as described by Hadley. AtmosphCirc2.png
Global circulation as described by Hadley.
- Royal Society begins twice daily observations compiled by Samuel Horsley testing for the influence of winds and of the moon on the barometer readings. [43]
– First hair hygrometer demonstrated. The inventor was Horace-Bénédict de Saussure.

19th century

Isothermal chart of the world created 1823 by William Channing Woodbridge using the work of Alexander von Humboldt. Woodbridge isothermal chart3.jpg
Isothermal chart of the world created 1823 by William Channing Woodbridge using the work of Alexander von Humboldt.
Classification of major types: 1803StratiformCirriformCumulostratiformCumuliformNimbiform
John Herapath develops some ideas in the kinetic theory of gases but mistakenly associates temperature with molecular momentum rather than kinetic energy; his work receives little attention other than from Joule.
What hath God wrought [55]
– German meteorologist Ludwig Kaemtz adds stratocumulus to Howard's canon as a mostly detached low-étage genus of limited convection. [57] It is defined as having cumuliform and stratiform characteristics integrated into a single layer (in contrast to cumulostratus which is deemed to be composite in nature and can be structured into more than one layer). [51] This eventually leads to the formal recognition of a stratocumuliform [58] physical category that includes rolled and rippled clouds classified separately from the more freely convective heaped cumuliform clouds.
James Prescott Joule experimentally finds the mechanical equivalent of heat.
– The Manchester Examiner newspaper organises the first weather reports collected by electrical means. [62]
William John Macquorn Rankine calculates the correct relationship between saturated vapour pressure and temperature using his hypothesis of molecular vortices.
Rudolf Clausius gives the first clear joint statement of the first and second law of thermodynamics, abandoning the caloric theory, but preserving Carnot's principle.
– Rankine introduces his thermodynamic function, later identified as entropy.
– After establishment in 1849, 500 U.S. telegraph stations are now making weather observations and submitting them back to the Smithsonian Institution. The observations are later interrupted by the American Civil War.
– Manila Observatory founded in the Philippines. [40]
– United States Army Signal Corp, forerunner of the National Weather Service, issues its first hurricane warning. [40]
Synoptic chart from 1874. Synoptic chart 1874.png
Synoptic chart from 1874.
– Otto Jesse reveals the discovery and identification of the first clouds known to form above the troposphere. He proposes the name noctilucent which is Latin for night shining. Because of the extremely high altitudes of these clouds in what is now known to be the mesosphere, they can become illuminated by the sun's rays when the sky is nearly dark after sunset and before sunrise. [65]
– The first mention of the term "El Niño" to refer to climate occurs when Captain Camilo Carrilo told the Geographical society congress in Lima that Peruvian sailors named the warm northerly current "El Niño" because it was most noticeable around Christmas.
Svante Arrhenius proposes carbon dioxide as a key factor to explain the ice ages.
– H.H. Clayton proposes formalizing the division of clouds by their physical structures into cirriform, stratiform, "flocciform" (stratocumuliform) [68] and cumuliform. With the later addition of cumulonimbiform, the idea eventually finds favor as an aid in the analysis of satellite cloud images. [58]

20th century

- The Marconi Company issues the first routine weather forecast by means of radio to ships on sea. Weather reports from ships started 1905. [70]
- Sakuhei Fujiwhara is the first to note that hurricanes move with the larger scale flow, and later publishes a paper on the Fujiwhara effect in 1921. [40]
Erik Palmén publishes his findings that hurricanes require surface water temperatures of at least 26°C (80°F) in order to form.
– Hurricanes begin to be named alphabetically with the radio alphabet.
WMO World Meteorological Organization replaces IMO under the auspice of the United Nations.
– A United States Navy rocket captures a picture of an inland tropical depression near the Texas/Mexico border, which leads to a surprise flood event in New Mexico. This convinces the government to set up a weather satellite program. [40]
NSSP National Severe Storms Project and NHRP National Hurricane Research Projects established. The Miami office of the United States Weather Bureau is designated the main hurricane warning center for the Atlantic Basin. [40]
The first television image of Earth from space from the TIROS-1 weather satellite. TIROS-1-Earth.png
The first television image of Earth from space from the TIROS-1 weather satellite.
Jacob Bjerknes described ENSO by suggesting that an anomalously warm spot in the eastern Pacific can weaken the east-west temperature difference, causing weakening in the Walker circulation and trade wind flows, which push warm water to the west.
– The first use of a General Circulation Model to study the effects of carbon dioxide doubling. Syukuro Manabe and Richard Wetherald at Princeton University.
Major types: currentStratiformCirriformStratocumuliformCumuliformCumulonimbiform
Extreme level PMC: Noctilucent veilsNoctilucent billows or whirlsNoctilucent bands
Very high level Nitric acid & water PSC Cirriform nacreous PSC Lenticular nacreous PSC
High-level Cirrostratus Cirrus Cirrocumulus
Mid-level Altostratus Altocumulus
Low-level Stratus Stratocumulus Cumulus humilis or fractus
Multi-level or moderate vertical Nimbostratus Cumulus mediocris
Towering vertical Cumulus congestus Cumulonimbus

Major types shown here include the ten tropospheric genera that are detectable (but not always identifiable) by satellite, and several additional major types above the troposphere that were not included with the original modification. The cumulus genus includes four species that indicate vertical size and structure.

– CAMEX3, a NASA experiment run in conjunction with NOAA's Hurricane Field Program collects detailed data sets on Hurricanes Bonnie, Danielle, and Georges.

21st century

See also

References and notes

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Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Meteorology</span> Interdisciplinary scientific study of the atmosphere focusing on weather forecasting

Meteorology is a branch of the atmospheric sciences with a major focus on weather forecasting. The study of meteorology dates back millennia, though significant progress in meteorology did not begin until the 18th century. The 19th century saw modest progress in the field after weather observation networks were formed across broad regions. Prior attempts at prediction of weather depended on historical data. It was not until after the elucidation of the laws of physics, and more particularly in the latter half of the 20th century the development of the computer that significant breakthroughs in weather forecasting were achieved. An important branch of weather forecasting is marine weather forecasting as it relates to maritime and coastal safety, in which weather effects also include atmospheric interactions with large bodies of water.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tornado</span> Violently rotating column of air in contact with both the Earths surface and a cumulonimbus cloud

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that is in contact with both the surface of the Earth and a cumulonimbus cloud or, in rare cases, the base of a cumulus cloud. It is often referred to as a twister, whirlwind or cyclone, although the word cyclone is used in meteorology to name a weather system with a low-pressure area in the center around which, from an observer looking down toward the surface of the Earth, winds blow counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern. Tornadoes come in many shapes and sizes, and they are often visible in the form of a condensation funnel originating from the base of a cumulonimbus cloud, with a cloud of rotating debris and dust beneath it. Most tornadoes have wind speeds less than 180 kilometers per hour, are about 80 meters across, and travel several kilometers before dissipating. The most extreme tornadoes can attain wind speeds of more than 480 kilometers per hour (300 mph), are more than 3 kilometers (2 mi) in diameter, and stay on the ground for more than 100 km.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cyclone</span> Large scale air mass that rotates around a strong center of low pressure

In meteorology, a cyclone is a large air mass that rotates around a strong center of low atmospheric pressure, counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere as viewed from above. Cyclones are characterized by inward-spiraling winds that rotate about a zone of low pressure. The largest low-pressure systems are polar vortices and extratropical cyclones of the largest scale. Warm-core cyclones such as tropical cyclones and subtropical cyclones also lie within the synoptic scale. Mesocyclones, tornadoes, and dust devils lie within the smaller mesoscale. Upper level cyclones can exist without the presence of a surface low, and can pinch off from the base of the tropical upper tropospheric trough during the summer months in the Northern Hemisphere. Cyclones have also been seen on extraterrestrial planets, such as Mars, Jupiter, and Neptune. Cyclogenesis is the process of cyclone formation and intensification. Extratropical cyclones begin as waves in large regions of enhanced mid-latitude temperature contrasts called baroclinic zones. These zones contract and form weather fronts as the cyclonic circulation closes and intensifies. Later in their life cycle, extratropical cyclones occlude as cold air masses undercut the warmer air and become cold core systems. A cyclone's track is guided over the course of its 2 to 6 day life cycle by the steering flow of the subtropical jet stream.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cloud</span> Visible mass of liquid droplets or frozen crystals suspended in the atmosphere

In meteorology, a cloud is an aerosol consisting of a visible mass of miniature liquid droplets, frozen crystals, or other particles suspended in the atmosphere of a planetary body or similar space. Water or various other chemicals may compose the droplets and crystals. On Earth, clouds are formed as a result of saturation of the air when it is cooled to its dew point, or when it gains sufficient moisture from an adjacent source to raise the dew point to the ambient temperature.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cumulus cloud</span> Genus of clouds, low-level cloud

Cumulus clouds are clouds that have flat bases and are often described as puffy, cotton-like, or fluffy in appearance. Their name derives from the Latin cumulus, meaning "heap" or "pile". Cumulus clouds are low-level clouds, generally less than 2,000 m (6,600 ft) in altitude unless they are the more vertical cumulus congestus form. Cumulus clouds may appear by themselves, in lines, or in clusters.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nimbostratus cloud</span> Common type of rain cloud

A nimbostratus cloud is a multi-level, amorphous, nearly uniform and often dark grey cloud that usually produces continuous rain, snow or sleet but no lightning or thunder.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stratus cloud</span> Type of cloud

Stratus clouds are low-level clouds characterized by horizontal layering with a uniform base, as opposed to convective or cumuliform clouds that are formed by rising thermals. More specifically, the term stratus is used to describe flat, hazy, featureless clouds at low altitudes varying in color from dark gray to nearly white. The word stratus comes from the Latin prefix strato-, meaning "layer". Stratus clouds may produce a light drizzle or a small amount of snow. These clouds are essentially above-ground fog formed either through the lifting of morning fog or through cold air moving at low altitudes over a region. Some call these clouds "high fog" for their fog-like form. While light rain may fall, this cloud does not indicate much meteorological precipitation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cloud physics</span> Study of the physical processes in atmospheric clouds

Cloud physics is the study of the physical processes that lead to the formation, growth and precipitation of atmospheric clouds. These aerosols are found in the troposphere, stratosphere, and mesosphere, which collectively make up the greatest part of the homosphere. Clouds consist of microscopic droplets of liquid water, tiny crystals of ice, or both. Cloud droplets initially form by the condensation of water vapor onto condensation nuclei when the supersaturation of air exceeds a critical value according to Köhler theory. Cloud condensation nuclei are necessary for cloud droplets formation because of the Kelvin effect, which describes the change in saturation vapor pressure due to a curved surface. At small radii, the amount of supersaturation needed for condensation to occur is so large, that it does not happen naturally. Raoult's law describes how the vapor pressure is dependent on the amount of solute in a solution. At high concentrations, when the cloud droplets are small, the supersaturation required is smaller than without the presence of a nucleus.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Index of meteorology articles</span>

This is a list of meteorology topics. The terms relate to meteorology, the interdisciplinary scientific study of the atmosphere that focuses on weather processes and forecasting.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rainband</span> Cloud and precipitation structure

A rainband is a cloud and precipitation structure associated with an area of rainfall which is significantly elongated. Rainbands can be stratiform or convective, and are generated by differences in temperature. When noted on weather radar imagery, this precipitation elongation is referred to as banded structure. Rainbands within tropical cyclones are curved in orientation. Rainbands of tropical cyclones contain showers and thunderstorms that, together with the eyewall and the eye, constitute a hurricane or tropical storm. The extent of rainbands around a tropical cyclone can help determine the cyclone's intensity.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mesoscale convective system</span> Complex of thunderstorms organized on a larger scale

A mesoscale convective system (MCS) is a complex of thunderstorms that becomes organized on a scale larger than the individual thunderstorms but smaller than extratropical cyclones, and normally persists for several hours or more. A mesoscale convective system's overall cloud and precipitation pattern may be round or linear in shape, and include weather systems such as tropical cyclones, squall lines, lake-effect snow events, polar lows, and mesoscale convective complexes (MCCs), and generally forms near weather fronts. The type that forms during the warm season over land has been noted across North and South America, Europe, and Asia, with a maximum in activity noted during the late afternoon and evening hours.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eye (cyclone)</span> Region of mostly calm weather at the center of strong tropical cyclones

The eye is a region of mostly calm weather at the center of tropical cyclones. The eye of a storm is a roughly circular area, typically 30–65 kilometers in diameter. It is surrounded by the eyewall, a ring of towering thunderstorms where the most severe weather and highest winds occur. The cyclone's lowest barometric pressure occurs in the eye and can be as much as 15 percent lower than the pressure outside the storm.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Precipitation types</span>

In meteorology, the different types of precipitation often include the character, formation, or phase of the precipitation which is falling to ground level. There are three distinct ways that precipitation can occur. Convective precipitation is generally more intense, and of shorter duration, than stratiform precipitation. Orographic precipitation occurs when moist air is forced upwards over rising terrain and condenses on the slope, such as a mountain.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Severe weather</span> Any dangerous meteorological phenomenon

Severe weather is any dangerous meteorological phenomenon with the potential to cause damage, serious social disruption, or loss of human life. Types of severe weather phenomena vary, depending on the latitude, altitude, topography, and atmospheric conditions. High winds, hail, excessive precipitation, and wildfires are forms and effects of severe weather, as are thunderstorms, downbursts, tornadoes, waterspouts, tropical cyclones, and extratropical cyclones. Regional and seasonal severe weather phenomena include blizzards (snowstorms), ice storms, and duststorms. Extreme weather phenomena that cause extreme heat, cold, wetness or drought often will bring severe weather events. One of the principal effects of anthropogenic climate change is changes in severe and extreme weather patterns.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Outflow (meteorology)</span> Air that flows outwards from a storm system

Outflow, in meteorology, is air that flows outwards from a storm system. It is associated with ridging, or anticyclonic flow. In the low levels of the troposphere, outflow radiates from thunderstorms in the form of a wedge of rain-cooled air, which is visible as a thin rope-like cloud on weather satellite imagery or a fine line on weather radar imagery. For observers on the ground, a thunderstorm outflow boundary often approaches in otherwise clear skies as a low, thick cloud that brings with it a gust front.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Atmospheric convection</span> Atmospheric phenomenon

Atmospheric convection is the result of a parcel-environment instability, or temperature difference layer in the atmosphere. Different lapse rates within dry and moist air masses lead to instability. Mixing of air during the day which expands the height of the planetary boundary layer leads to increased winds, cumulus cloud development, and decreased surface dew points. Moist convection leads to thunderstorm development, which is often responsible for severe weather throughout the world. Special threats from thunderstorms include hail, downbursts, and tornadoes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Outline of meteorology</span> Overview of and topical guide to meteorology

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the field of Meteorology.

Tropical convective clouds play an important part in the Earth's climate system. Convection and release of latent heat transports energy from the surface into the upper atmosphere. Clouds have a higher albedo than the underlying ocean, which causes more incoming solar radiation to be reflected back to space. Since the tops of tropical systems are much cooler than the surface of the Earth, the presence of high convective clouds cools the climate system.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Glossary of meteorology</span> List of definitions of terms and concepts commonly used in meteorology

This glossary of meteorology is a list of terms and concepts relevant to meteorology and atmospheric science, their sub-disciplines, and related fields.